First U.S. System To Keep Drones Away From Wildfires Kicks Off

Jul 25, 2016

Credit Andrew Xu / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal authorities say they've launched the first national system intended to prevent hobby drones from interfering with planes and helicopters fighting wildfires.

The U.S. Interior Department announced the kickoff of the pilot project Monday. It uses smartphone apps already on the market to quickly alert drone fliers to temporary flight restrictions over wildfires.

Officials say drones colliding with firefighting aircraft could be catastrophic. Planes and helicopters have been grounded numerous times this year because of drones, most recently on Sunday in Southern California where 10,000 homes are threatened by fire.

The Interior Department developed the system with DJI, the world's largest civilian drone-maker, and two other companies that specialize in offering navigational information to drone fliers.

Officials say the system can provide real-time alerts to keep unmanned aircraft out of restricted airspace.