The tech company Parrot was founded in 1994 in Paris, France, and started producing drones in 2010, beginning with the Parrot AR drone. After twelve years of manufacturing drones, the company has made its mark in the industry but, as of late, has made the transition from toys to professional and commercial products.
The question is, do the drones have smart capabilities such as geofencing?
What is geofencing?
Geofencing is a system built into certain models of drones that sets parameters of flight. Using technology such as GPS and WiFi, a virtual fence is created to stop the drone from flying into or out of certain predetermined areas.
This fence can be implemented into the drone before hitting the market, or it can be added to certain models by the pilot.
There are two types of geofencing:
- The first is a boundary that applies to where you can and cannot fly
- And the second is a fence to restrict where you can and cannot take off or land
Geofencing is a setting generally used to keep pilots and other people, buildings, planes, etc. safe from crashes or dangerous flight.
When geofencing is implemented by a company without an option to change it, pilots are faced with extra cautious boundaries due to the unknown.
Although airports are one of the primary no-fly zones in the world, there are numerous other places where geofencing is used to keep people or nature safe.
One of the most well-known in the United States are National Parks.
DJI is a company known for drones that have geofencing built into the system, but that does not mean they are the only ones that can perform the action.
This tool often has a negative connotation because when it is pre-set by the manufacturer, it restricts certain areas which are not always no-fly zones.
However, when pilots have access to these settings, the possibilities become much larger.
Do Parrot drones have geofencing?
To put it simply, there are no Parrot drones that have geofencing. In any case, certain models of Parrot drones have a similar setting called geocaging.
This setting is not quite like geofencing.
Parrots’ website describes it as “[enabling] you to lock your flight area to a cylinder around the pilot.” This allows pilots to imitate geofencing with the option to keep the setting on or off.
In essence, the geocaging option is available for safety reasons when a pilot is learning or needs to stay in a specific area.
Initiating the fence puts an imaginary cylinder around the controller at a specific radius and height that the drone cannot pass beyond.
The difference between the two is that geofencing is keeping other things safe while geocaging is developed to keep the drone safe and within a certain place.
Not every Parrot drone can perform this action, but for those that have it, the setting is available in the Freeflight 6 app, which is used to fly newer Parrot models.
Which Parrot models have geocaging?
Parrot has been trying to get into the drone industry for a few years and has hit a few roadblocks along the way, one of the most notable being in 2017 when the company was forced to lay off 35% of its workforce due to extremely low revenue.
Parrot has made leaps and bounds since then, and one of the changes made was the addition of optional geocaging.
The Anafi series was released in July of 2018 and was the first model containing geocaging capabilities.
One thing to recognize about this feature is that it is not unchangeable like its DJI counterparts. You have the freedom to fly with or without it – although distance might be restricted when turned off.
How to unlock (set) geocaging step-by-step
Follow these steps to unlock geocaging on your Parrot drone:
- Open Freeflight 6 app.
- Connect the drone.
- Click the preferences icon in the top right of the screen to access the settings.
- Select safety preferences from the options on the left side of the screen.
- Set max altitude and max distance to the desired value.
- Turn on the Geofencing option directly below altitude and distance settings.
More about Parrot
This drone manufacturer has released impressive products, but why purchase these drones over others?
Parrot models have gone through numerous changes over the years. These changes have been from purely cosmetic to major upgrades.
Lately, the company has transitioned from the consumer market to the enterprise and prosumer markets. This was done because of DJI’s strong influence on the consumer market.
Parrot is now focused on providing drones that can do more and provide technical fields with the flexibility of flight.
The most recent offering was a new model of ANAFI drone called the ANAFI AI, which is connected to 4G and therefore is not restricted by Wi-Fi connections between the controller and the drone.
The other ANAFI model, the ANAFI USA is also a great model. This drone is an enterprise model, which means it is built for the commercial market. It is equipped with 32x zoom and a thermal camera.
These two drones are the only drones currently sold by the company and are equipped with optional geofencing capabilities.
Without geofencing, how do I know where I can’t fly?
Because most drone companies do not mandate geofencing, it may be difficult to determine where you can and cannot fly.
When flying Parrot drones, there is no indication of no-fly zones, which can be difficult when a new pilot does not know the area’s laws or is flying somewhere new.
The major rule of thumb when flying any drone is that you are flying in the same airspace as airplanes, and every pilot needs to be vigilant of other aircraft in the area.
Flying near airports is never a good idea and is illegal in many countries.
Other areas in the United States where drone flight is restricted include near government buildings, national parks, near busy airports, etc.
In some cases, temporary flight restrictions are put into place due to natural disasters, government operations, or other needs.
The best way to know where you can and can’t fly is to download the B4UFLY app, which will tell you of any restrictions in your area.
Keep in mind that the app will not indicate local restrictions on taking off and landing. You will need to be vigilant for signs that indicate such rules in your area.
Advantages of flying without geofencing
Flying without the aid of restrictive boundaries can have its advantages. As Parrot drones do not have geofencing, they can fly more freely.
Geofencing is determined by a company prior to a drone release, which means that the company decides where those lines are.
Although the lines can be changed through software updates to the drone, it will be much slower than not having them in the first place.
The advantage of not having geofencing is that pilots can fly in areas that change their restrictions, or they can decide where it is safe to fly on their own.
Another advantage to this is that the only roadblock to obtaining special access to an area is through government entities.
When a drone is equipped with geofencing, the authorization must also be passed to your account, and the drone must accept what the government already has already given you permission to do.
Disadvantages of flying without geofencing
Without geofencing capabilities, every pilot must take on the extra task of learning where they can and cannot fly.
The UAS will not stop automatically when getting too close to an area where it is illegal to fly.
This can get pilots into trouble when flying because they are more apt to break the law without realizing it.
Taking off in a restricted area and simply flying beyond what is allowed becomes much easier when there is nothing telling you where those boundaries are.
Knowing the restrictions of flight is crucial when using an unmanned aerial vehicle because the airspace is used by planes and other UAVs.
When each pilot understands the rules of flight, it creates a safer environment for everyone.
Whether you are flying drones with geofencing or not, there are laws applicable to you, and everyone should know what they can and can’t do in order to help keep themselves and others safe.