Drones are pretty cool, when you think about it. Despite their current pop status as a hobbyist tool and source of entertainment, the military has already employed drones in mission critical situations and law enforcement agencies are already working with the possibilities for disarming tense scenarios with less risk to human life.
But that doesn’t stop random drone operators from wreaking havoc with their expensive quadcopter toys. The Federal Aviation Administration has had to issue some pretty restrictive regulations regarding these buzzing mini-planes due to some idiotic drone use, such as the drone that dropped drugs inside the fence of a maximum-security penitentiary (causing a violent riot to erupt). A reward is still offered for information on the drone owners who wanted some pretty rad pictures of raging California wildfires and ended up grounding the helicopters that were supposed to be putting out the blaze. There have even been numerous reports of commercial airline flights that were disrupted during takeoff and landing due to the stupid antics of drone users, as well as a current investigation of a teenager who crafted his own homemade drone complete with a real working handgun that fires while flying.
One drone developer, though, has a solution: geofencing software that establishes automatic no-fly zones around key locations. The company, DJI, has enabled software that will disable their product around crucial targets like airports, sports venues, schools, or government facilities. The technology was implemented on a relatively small-scale last spring after a private drone user accidentally crashed his drone on the White House lawn. In the absence of better regulations that identify the operator’s name and location for the authorities following a violation, blocking drone use is the next best thing.
What remains to be seen will be whether private citizens can setup these no-fly zones around their property. In the 2015 case of a Kentucky property owner who shot down a drone that repeatedly flew too close to his house while his daughter was playing outside, the armed citizen claims the drone had already flown beneath the canopy of a neighbor’s house and spied in the windows before coming to his house and flying very low. Witnesses at the shooter’s trial stated that the drone was below the treeline surrounding the property, although the drone’s owner claims it was at least 200 feet in the air. A judge sided with the defendant by dismissing all criminal charges against the man, but a civil case brought by the drone operator is still undecided.