Future DJI consumer drones will have built-in tech to avoid airplanes

Select future DJI drones will feature built-in technology that helps them avoid potential collisions with airplanes and helicopters. The company announced its intention to offer this technology on Wednesday, stating that it will be available on all drones that weigh more than 250 grams released after January 1, 2020. Key to the new feature will be AirSense, a technology that picks up on the ADS-B signals from planes and helicopters in the nearby vicinity.

The FAA and other regulatory bodies have scrambled to establish rules on consumer and commercial drones. These rules, in part, are designed to protect individuals from potentially catastrophic collisions between drones and helicopters. Drone operators are not allowed to operate UAVs within a certain range of airports as a result, for example.

Future DJI drones will utilize AirSense technology to detect nearby airplanes and helicopters via Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), which the FAA details in all of its technical glory here. As of January 1, 2020, the date after which DJI will deploy its new aircraft detection ability, ADS-B Out will be required to fly in the majority of controlled airspace.

By using this technology, DJI drones with AirSense will alert drone operators if it has detected a signal from an aircraft located potentially up to miles away. The company claims its support will represent the largest single ADS-B deployment to date. Drone pilots will get an aircraft warning before they would be able to physically see or hear the airplane or helicopter.

The ADS-B detection feature was already offered on some DJI drones, but thus far has been limited to professional models. The expansion to other consumer-tier drones helps ensure these aerial vehicles avoid existing aircraft, expanding the overall safety profile.