Most UAV owners live happy, litigation-free lives. But others continue to ruin things for us, by flying over wildfires or playing chicken with airliners. A new feature for 3DR’s Solo drone will aim to change all that.
AirMap is an existing service that tells you where you can and can’t fly your pet drone in the US. 3DR is taking that database, and plugging it straight into the Solo app used with the drone’s remote control. So, when the app is opened up, it will display a yellow (warning/restriction) or red alert, which can be tapped on to get more info.
That’s not completely novel technology: DJI’s insanely popular Phantom drones already have the locations of all US airports built in, so provided you haven’t messed with a Phantom’s firmware, you won’t physically be able to fly it too close to an airport.
3DR’s innovation is with temporary air restrictions, like the ones you might find if the Pope is in town, or above a wildfire. Those are much harder to keep track of than the permanent no-fly zone around airports, but just as important.
Adding AirMap directly into a drone’s control system is a far cry from the kind of drone air traffic control some companies are calling for: it’s still putting the onus on manufacturers (and on owners to obey the law). But hey, anything that means safer flying and happier regulators is fine by me.