Geo-fencing technology can update drones with live information on temporary flight restrictions

'Virtual walls' to stop drones entering restricted UK sites

The UK government is considering implementing mandatory geo-fencing technology for drones that act as virtual walls preventing the devices from entering restricted areas.

The technology is already fitted in some devices, but there have been calls for it to be made mandatory in all drones flown for leisure purposes.

The government is also considering the introduction of a drone registration scheme in the UK, echoing similar moves made in the US last December.

DJI, which specialises in drone photography, unveiled a geo-fencing system last year that continually updates airspace information in order to prevent drones from entering certain areas.

The system even updates drones with live information to cover temporary flight restrictions which can be caused by forest fires, major stadium events, VIP travel or other changing circumstances.

Devices with the system installed will not be able to fly in to or take off in certain locations.

Shadow transport minister Richard Burden asked in a written parliamentary question if ministers will consider imposing a mandatory geo-fencing requirement on the industry.

Transport Minister Robert Goodwill responded: "The UK government and the Civil Aviation Authority are talking to manufacturers about implementing geo-fencing technology on their drone systems.

"There are a number of drones already sold in the UK with this technology installed.

"My department is talking to a range of stakeholders, including airports, about potential solutions for restricting drone operations around airports and other key infrastructure.

"We expect to have some results from this work by the end of the summer."

Burden raised the issue after noting that 23 near-misses between aircraft and drones were recorded in a six month period last year, with 12 deemed to have involved a serious risk of collision.

He said there have long been calls for tests to be done to see what would happen in such a collision and that a government working group looking at the drone safety issue has been in operation since 2013.

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