At an event in Washington, DC that focuses on improving the safety in the skies, DJI unveiled their plans to help avoid potentially life-threatening drone disasters.
The Chinese tech company announced that all DJI drones weighing more than 250 grams will use “AirSense” tech to help operators see and avoid airplanes and helicopters. Some of the DJI’s industry-focused drones, already have the feature built in.
The AirSense system picks up location signals broadcast by other aircraft. The drone pilot will then be warned that a plane or helicopter is nearby so they can take any necessary action.
The AirSense uses an existing technology called automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), which is already used in many aircraft and air traffic control (ATC) towers. Aircraft transmitting ADS-B signals send out their satellite location data, altitude, and other positioning information. These signals are then captured by the ADS-B receivers, helping them to track an aircraft without radar or a visual sighting of the plane.
The technology is able to detect the airplanes and helicopters from miles away, farther than a drone pilot can hear or see them. It then displays their locations on the screen of the pilot’s remote controller. It will not force a drone to land if a plane is detected. Instead, the operator will be alerted on their remote control handset.
DJI’s latest drones already have safety features such as geo-fencing, which stops the drone flying into restricted airspace such as an airport, informs DJI.
DJI’s ambitious schedule aligns with the FAA’s upcoming requirement for essentially all airplanes and helicopters to be equipped with ADS-B transmitters in controlled airspace, starting January 1, 2020.
“Expanding the availability of AirSense to DJI pilots is a meaningful step forward in safely integrating UAS and reducing conflicts with manned aircraft,” said Rune Duke, Senior Director of Airspace and Air Traffic at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
“ADS-B In is used daily by thousands of pilots to increase their situational awareness and ensure safe operations. As the general aviation fleet further equips with ADS-B Out and other NextGen technology, enhancements like AirSense will allow all pilots to maximize their investment. All of the aviation will benefit from the incorporation of this technology into DJI’s large fleet.”
ADS-B will be required on all aircraft in the US and Canada, but not drones. However, Schulman said that DJI wanted to be a good partner in the use of airspace. And therefore, it decided to equip the tech into nearly all its products.