DJI's Geofencing system has been in the works for a good while now, but it is finally being rolled out in much improved form in the new update to the DJI GO App.
DJI GO is the official app for both iOS and Android, used to control DJI aircraft such as the Phantom and Inspire. The new update will mean that DJI aircraft, while using GO, will not allow flight in restricted airspace close to airports or military bases.
Some of these restrictions are hard-locked and some of them, such as what DJI term 'Warning Zones', simply flag-up a message alerting you that you are flying in an area that may require caution. There are also 'Authorisation Zones', which includes areas such as football stadiums and other landmarks. Operators with verified DJI accounts can temporarily unlock Authorisation Zones, for instance if flying for a commercial job is required.
The GEO system is controversial, with some commercial pilots becoming frustrated with the extra hoops that they may have to jump through. Especially when they class aircraft, such as the Inspire, as professional tools while systems, like the A3 used on self-build aircraft and the new Matrice 600, do not contain such limitations.
DJI was in an awkward position with this one, because while the Inspire and Phantom are being used extensively by professional operators worldwide, they are also used as hobbyist aircraft. With Geo, the company has trodden a fine line between making flight in restricted areas off-limits to hobbyists, while requiring a bit of extra effort from the professionals, should they need to fly in restricted airspace.
Yes, there is an extra hoop, but if it stops the average hobbyist with no safety training from endangering others or causing more sensational tabloid headlines, then personally I welcome it.
The new GEO system requires that pilots update to the latest aircraft firmware, found on DJI's support pages. One hopes that the anomalies being seen by some with the latest firmware (1.9) can be resolved quickly, and that mandatory updating will not be required until such issues have been resolved.
In addition, it is not clear whether the new GEO system affects other alternative control apps, such as the excellent Autopilot software.
Full press release on the following page.