• Leo Kelion - bbc.co.uk

DJI drones gain geo-fencing safety feature opt-out


The bestselling drone-maker has updated its app to let owners bypass a feature that stops its aircraft flying into or taking off in sensitive locations.

DJI introduced geo-fencing in 2013 - a technology that uses GPS location signals to stop its machines flying close to airports, professional sports events and other restricted zones.

The opt-out allows operators to disable the ban in many, but not all, cases.

The Chinese firm says it will keep a record of those who use the feature.

It suggests the move will make it easier for authorised personnel to carry out inspections and other sanctioned activities in controlled areas.

But one expert questioned the wisdom of the move.

Accountable owners

DJI's Geo app is used to control its Phantom and Inspire drones.

If the pilot sends one of the aircraft into a flagged zone, a prompt appears asking them to verify their account and acknowledge what they are doing.

In the past, the only way to achieve this was to request an override from the company or hack the drones' firmware.

"We don't have the ability to verify if someone has authorisation," Brendan Schulman, DJI's legal affairs chief told the BBC.

"Essentially, the principle here is operator responsibility and accountability.

"Just like driving a car, it is up to the operator to be licensed, to have the car registered and insured - the manufacturer of an automobile doesn't decide who gets to drive or not.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-36717538

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