Working to maintain safe skies for airplanes, helicopters, and even drones, DJI has announced a comprehensive upgrade for all its consumer drones called AirSense, and the idea behind it will be to alert aircraft that there’s a drone operating in the area.
“Studies show that small drones are nearly impossible for our pilots to see, let alone track. An ideal drone system for manned ag pilots is one that has an ADS-B tracking system that can sense and avoid agricultural and other manned aircraft. DJI has taken the first step towards this by now equipping all of their drones with ADS-B tracking so their drone operators will be aware of other aircraft equipped with ADS-B tracking technology. This led us to focus on AirSense as the next opportunity to make drones safer, and to embrace the challenge of adding ADS-B receivers to consumer drone models that are already in development.” – DJI
AirSense is already being used in DJI’s larger commercial drones, including the Matrice, and utilizes an ADS-B transmitter to broadcast the drone’s position for detection and tracking by other aircraft which may be coming into the area. And DJI wants drone operators to enjoy the same amount of situational awareness and to “ensure the world’s skies remain safe in the drone era.” With that goal in mind, DJI will als0 equip all DJI drones with ADS-B receivers as well. Using AirSense, operators will be able to detect aircraft outside of line of sight, alert the drone operator in real time, and give them time to take evasive action.
“DJI was the first company to offer geofencing, automatic altitude limits, return-to-home technology and other safety features to the world’s growing community of personal and professional drone pilots. We believe our efforts have helped drones attain their enviable safety record, and we expect our new agenda will further improve safety even as more drones take to the skies.”
Beginning January 1st, 2020, DJI will be putting ADS-B transmitters in all their consumer drones weighing 250 grams or more. That means nearly all DJI drones, right down to the next generation DJI Spark will receive AirSense as part of their design. The AirSense system is part of a 10 point plan called “Elevating Safety” that DJI is putting in place in partnership with other drone manufacturers and government organizations.
The ten point plan is as follows:
- DJI will install ADS-B receivers in all new drones above 250 grams
- DJI will develop a new automatic warning for drone pilots flying at extended distances
- DJI will establish an internal Safety Standards Group to meet regulatory and customer expectations
- Aviation industry groups must develop standards for reporting drone incidents
- All drone manufacturers should install geofencing and remote identification
- Governments must require remote identification
- Governments must require a user-friendly knowledge test for new drone pilots
- Governments must clearly designate sensitive restriction areas
- Local authorities must be allowed to respond to drone threats that are clear and serious
- Governments must increase enforcement of laws against unsafe drone operation
Also note that DJI will be pushing for all new pilots to take a knowledge test to be clear to fly. You can read the entire white paper outlining the plan here.
If you ask me, it’s about time. I’ve been talking about the need for drones to have transponders in them, so that everyone can see a drone operating in the area. Giving drone operators enough warning time to avoid aircraft that is flying nearby makes AirSense the ideal next step in not only helping drone operators fly safely, but to also keep the skies safe for every aerial operator to enjoy.
Moreover, from a filmmaking perspective, AirSense is really going aid in keeping aerial locations safe for cinematography. When an operator sees aircraft flying near the area, they can just wait until the coast is clear in order to take to the sky and grab a shot. And hopefully, it’ll encourage local communities to loosen tight restrictions around flying in and around population centers. Though I’m not going to hold my breath for that.