Geofencing is a concept that has divided the Drone community into two groups. Those who support geofencing and those who are against it. Both sides have some solid arguments to support their stance. And we will be looking at them later. But for now, what exactly is geofencing?
Geofencing is the enforcement of virtual restrictions on drones using a combination of Global Positioning Satellites, WiFi, Radio Frequency Identification, and your drones’ internal software.
Geofencing is a safety measure that restricts access to restricted areas. These areas are visible on your drone app, and it alerts you when you get close to them.
You can think of geofencing as a virtual wall. Trying to move into a prohibited area will cause your drone to hover in place, unable to move forward. The FAA and other regulatory authorities support the move.
But drone flyers view this as an unnecessary intervention into their harmless hobby.
So, is it a practice designed to promote safe drone use and accountability or just another attempt at governmental oversight?
The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Although you could have mixed feelings about geofencing laws, there is no denying that geofencing has its benefits.
These benefits are why manufacturers opt to comply with governmental suggestions and incorporate Geofencing into most models.
The foremost benefit that comes with geofencing is pilot accountability. Responsible authorities can monitor each drone to ensure that pilots comply with geofencing restrictions.
In case of accidents or attempts to infiltrate geofenced areas, there's an immediate response where authorities can track the drone and its pilot.
It's prevalent for people to fly their drones to restricted areas such as airports or military bases.
For a pilot to have geofencing restrictions lifted, they must provide details and conform to the limits set. These measures help promote a culture of accountability.
From a consumer's perspective, geofencing is a great way to ensure that your drone and the operator remain safe.
You can lower the chances of accidents and ensure safe flying by using geofencing.
You could limit your drones' operable region to an open area by creating personal geo-fenced sites. Then, even if controls are given to a novice, the drone would be inoperable beyond the limits set by the user.
These limitations would make a great teaching aid for children and students, helping them learn the basics in a secure environment.
Airspace safety is an essential and significant benefit of geofencing. For example, people have often infiltrated potentially sensitive areas such as military installations, airports, and hospitals through drones.
People could use drones to observe and photograph these restricted places. Geofencing these locations can reduce such incidents significantly.
Not only does geofencing avoid such situations, but it can save you and your drone from some trouble.
Many regions have the order to shoot down a drone that enters the restricted zone.
The use of this technology makes the enforcement of no-fly zones easier.
Aside from the benefits, there are downsides to geofencing as well. And the critics of the move have been quite vocal in their opposition to geofencing.
Many of the objections raised have severe merit, and here's what's on the other side of the picture.
Critics argue that geofencing all drones limits their response time for action. For example, when using drones in rescue and search operations, the added time of getting the approval for access to the area is a serious concern.
This approval time could potentially hamper performance and cause search and rescue operations to fail to people in the business. While proponents of the measure argue that all authorities will have prior approval for search and rescue operations, this is still a very valid concern.
Another issue plaguing consumers is the arbitrary nature of geofenced areas. For example, there could be random regions that won't allow your drone even to lift off.
Now, if you live near a geofenced area, such as military bases, you might have trouble enjoying your hobby.
This virtual boundary feels like an outrageous violation of rights for consumers. And why not? If a drone is flying at a ceiling of 10 feet, it is unlikely to harm anything. But in some cases, people can't even get their drones to hover even a foot in their backyards.
One of the absolute joys of piloting drones will always be the freedom that comes with it. The possibilities are endless when it comes to exploring. But with geofencing restrictions built into the new models, this is highly unlikely to continue.
The chances of your drone falling into a geofenced region will get higher as the most sensitive locations will eventually become geofenced as well. This proximity could negatively affect user experience leading to pushback.
Most major drone manufacturers now do have geofencing built into their models. For example, DJI has thrown its full support behind the geofencing initiative, and all their drones have the technology installed. However, some drones exist without geofencing, and you can also create drones without these mechanics.
Drones are gaining popularity, and there'll only be more of them in the future. To ensure pilot accountability and airspace safety, relevant authorities incorporate geofencing in every drone.
However, there's a backlash to the stance, and it's simple and easy to make your drone that won't have to be restricted by geofencing.
If Geofencing is not a concern, then nothing holds a candle to what DJI has to offer. As the industry leader, DJI has been at the forefront of pioneering drone technology. With the best stability and framerate that we have seen, DJI deserves this spot.
Whether it is the compact DJI Mavic 2 or the beast that is DJI Phantom 4 Pro, you cannot go wrong with a DJI drone. The company offers unparalleled software support alongside unbeatable hardware and design.
DJI was one of the first- and the most vocal- supporter of the Geofencing initiative. All DJI drones come with built-in geofencing features. To operate your drone in certain areas, you must request access using your unique ID. In certain sensitive areas, your drone would be unable to take off.
DJI offers the best drones in the industry, but if geofencing is a problem for you, there’s not much that you can do. Moreover, DJI drones will warn you when you come close to a geofenced area and restrict you from entering the zone.
All DJI drones, even the Mavic Air 2, come with built-in geofencing features. These features ensure safety and follow the laws.
DJI does not compromise on airspace safety and ensures that each drone they manufacture comes with the geofencing features and works smoothly.
While authorities highly recommend not buying drones without geofencing, entire brands exist that are marketing that geofencing restrictions do not limit their drones.
Drone manufacturers such as Autel purposely make drones without geofencing features. Apart from Autel, GDU 02 and Yuneec Typhoon Q500 also promise drones without geofencing restrictions.
Some controversies lie in the transport control and monitoring of activities. People who consider drone flying a harmless hobby can be irritated by such regulations.
However, drones can be used for multiple purposes, and we can't point out who will use them negatively.
You’ll find plenty of high-quality drones if you’re interested in getting one without geofencing. Autel could be considered the industry leader for drones without geofencing.
However, Autel has also complied with some geofencing regulations in the US, but they aren’t enforcing it yet. The drones are entirely operable even in sensitive areas, with the only update being a user notification regarding drone position.
Here are a few drones that you can get if you prefer not to restrict your drones.
Autel has upgraded its firmware to include geofencing features in its drones.
The Autel Evo 2 drones have geofencing features that are valid in some countries. However, these restrictions aren’t enforced and are only used to warn users that they’re entering a sensitive area.
Drone laws are different in every region and you might not have to worry about geofencing in certain areas. For a detailed drone law map, you can visit here.
There’s no doubt that geofencing is a necessary feature, and it’s going to be more prevalent in the future.
However, geofencing is only helpful by educating users on what makes it necessary in the first place. There will always be workarounds and hacks for people to disable the check.
Fostering safety and responsible flying culture within the community will make geofencing further effective.
Until then, good luck and safe flying!