Schumer moves to require geo-fencing on drones

Getty Images

Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles SchumerReid: 'I have set the Senate' for nuclear option Immigration was barely covered in the debates GOP leaders advise members to proceed with caution on Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) is moving to require drone manufacturers to include geo-fencing technology that would prohibit devices from flying over restricted areas in newly-built devices. 

Schumer is planning to introduce an amendment to a must-pass spending bill for the Federal Aviation Administration to mandate technology that would shut off drones if they fly near commercial airports and other restricted airspaces. 

Schumer said Monday that the technology "takes human error out of the equation" for drone flights, which the FAA is in the process of developing regulations for. 

“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," Schumer said in a statement about his amendment. 

“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," he continued. "All we need to do is pass this legislation and we can allow drones but in a safer, more effective way.”

The FAA's funding is scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, making its reauthorization a must-pass piece of legislation for Congress to tackle this month. 

The agency has been working for years on a new set of regulations for allowing drones to fly in airspace that is currently reserved for commercial and private flights. 

The FAA said recently that the number of drone sightings that have been reported by airline pilots have sharply risen in the first half of this year, going from 238 in 2014 to 650 in the first half of this year. Drone users have bristled at the FAA's definition of a "close call" between the devices and planes, however. 

Schumer said Monday that "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. 

"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,” he said.