Most owners of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) 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 such vehicles can and cannot be flown. 3DR is taking that database, and plugging it straight into the Solo app that is used with the machine's remote control. So, when the app is launched, a yellow (warning/restriction) or red alert light appears, 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, for instance, so provided you haven’t messed with a Phantom’s firmware, it shouldn't physically be able to fly it too close to an airport.
3DR’s innovation is with temporary air restrictions, like the ones found 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 UAV'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.