Last updated: 01:30 PM ET, Mon September 14 2015

Schumer: Drones Need 'Geo-Fencing'

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | September 14, 2015

Schumer: Drones Need 'Geo-Fencing'

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) on Sunday said he will propose an amendment requiring drone manufacturers to implement geo-fencing technology or other similar solutions on all drones in order to prevent them from flying into “No Fly Drone Zones,” such as near airports, the Pentagon, major parades and sporting events.

His announcement comes less than a week after a drone crashed into the main stadium at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York. No one was hurt.

Schumer has long advocated for limits where unauthorized drones can fly, through the installation of built-in software, firmware and GPS tracking in the device. The technology helps take human error out of the equation. Manufacturers are already experimenting with placing this type of technology in their drones; however, Schumer said that all manufacturers should be required to take all reasonable steps to implement the software right away and that’s why he will be proposing this amendment in the upcoming FAA Reauthorization bill.

“There needs to be a clear strategy to address the public safety dilemma of reckless drone use because a future drone crash could spell real trouble. That’s why I am unveiling brand new federal language in Congress that would virtually eliminate any chance of drones crashing into planes and causing serious danger,” he said. “My amendment, which I am attaching to the FAA Reauthorization bill, would require geo-fencing or other similar technology software on every drone that would prohibit flying near airports and other sensitive areas. All we need to do is pass this legislation and we can allow drones but in a safer, more effective way.”

According to the FAA, pilots reported spotting 16 drones in June of 2014 and 36 drones in July 2014. So far this year, 138 pilots reported seeing drones in June and 137 pilots reported seeing drones in July.

“Requiring geo-fencing technology will effectively fence off drones from sensitive areas like airports, the Pentagon and major sporting events like the US Open and more,” Schumer said. “If geo-fencing technology were mandated in every drone sold in America, it would go a long way toward preventing the kinds of near-misses that have occurred over the past few months, and still allow hobbyists to fly drones in safe places.”

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