Drones Need Geo-Fencing, Says Sen. Schumer - InformationWeek

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Drones Need Geo-Fencing, Says Sen. Schumer

Senator Charles Schumer is proposing a new FAA amendment as government officials seek more ways to keep drones under control.

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Free-roaming drones may soon face fences. Amid a growing number of drone sightings by airplane pilots, U.S. government officials want to limit where drones can fly.

On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) proposed amending the upcoming FAA Reauthorization Bill to include a requirement that drone makers implement geo-fencing support to prevent drones from entering restricted areas.

The Federal Aviation Administration in February introduced draft rules for commercial drones that included line-of-sight requirements for pilots. The rules, however, do not include a geo-fencing requirement. The agency is expected to finalize its rules by next summer.

Some drone makers, like DJI, have already updated firmware for their drones to obey FAA flight restrictions in the U.S. But Schumer wants to make geo-fencing support a requirement for all drone companies.

"Near-misses between drones and passenger airliners are spiking and we must act now, before a real tragedy occurs," said Schumer in a statement. "That's why I will be proposing an amendment to the expected FAA bill that will move through congress this year to require manufacturers to implement geo-fencing or other similar 'no fly zone' technology on all drones."

(Image: Stocksnap via Pixabay)

(Image: Stocksnap via Pixabay)

Last week, the FAA said that pilot reports of unmanned aircraft sightings have risen significantly since last year, from 238 sightings in 2014 to more than 650 from January through August 9, 2015.

Schumer said that there have been reports of at least seven drone sightings around JFK and Newark airports in about a week. He warned that a drone colliding with a commercial airliner could bring it down, like a bird strike.

Absent a specific proposal, it remains unclear whether future rules might limit drone software modification.

On Thursday, Reuters reported that several U.S. government agencies are working with state and local law enforcement agencies to develop a system to defend against rogue drones. The group, which includes the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the FAA, is said to have already conducted tests for tracking and disabling unwelcome drones.

As commercial interest in drones has surged, so too has interest in containing them. UC Berkeley researchers are working on a project called LightCense that aims to make it possible for people on the ground to identify drone pilots using a smartphone app to read light patterns. They describe the project as a visual license plate.

DroneShield, a company based in Washington, D.C., sells drone sensor equipment and a net gun for capturing low-flying drones. And Blighter Surveillance Systems, a British company, is among several defense-oriented firms in Europe offering a defense against drones.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
8/27/2015 | 11:32:23 AM
Re: Lets use some common sense
I'd want it near me even less than a RC airplane. A drone can have a camera on it which brings up all sorts of privacy issues. unfortunately the people flying those planes are'nt kids tht are still gaining their common sense, but adults seeing how much they can get away with before the drones are regulated. 

I really like the lightCense idea, at least that way we can know who is responsible for buzzing our heads at dinner.

User Rank: Ninja
8/24/2015 | 11:01:33 AM
Lets use some common sense
Those owning drones need to use some common sense by treating the drone much the same as operators of radio controlled planes.  You don't go flying RCPs up and down the neighborhood streets, same should be for drones.  But because common sense is not always apparent to many, time to write the laws to exclude drones from most public areas.  I wouldn't want a drone doing a fly by while I eat at an outdoor restaurant any more than I'd want a radio controlled airplane.
User Rank: Ninja
8/21/2015 | 9:49:55 PM
Re: It's About Time
I agree with Schumer. I think there needs to be parameters and rules regarding drones.
User Rank: Ninja
8/21/2015 | 8:15:40 PM
Re: It's About Time
Aviation firms should also partner with companies that are creating and deploying anti-drone technology. Bird strikes were responsible for 219 deaths since 1988, according to the Bird Strike Committee USA. If a drone can do similar damage then, it would be best to get the right anti-drone technology in the air. 

A few facts to consider would be that global bird population has been estimated at 200 to 400 billion. Birds prefer the wild and while drones do not number in equally large numbers, they do prefer urban areas!
User Rank: Ninja
8/21/2015 | 5:16:44 PM
It's About Time
It's about time someone in government is finally acknowledging this danger. Let's hope geofencing happens before a tragedy does.
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