Drone maker plans software to block Washington flights

BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese maker of a drone that a hobbyist crashed at the White House says it is taking steps to ensure that cannot happen again.

DJI Technology Co. said Wednesday it will send a software update this week for its drones' navigation system that will block them from flying over Washington.

The crash of the 50-centimeter-long (two-foot-long) Phantom quad-copter prompted questions about whether the White House and President Barack Obama were adequately protected against a potential threat.

A DJI spokesman, Michael Perry, said the software update was planned for coming weeks but its release was moved up after the White House incident.

DJI drones use a GPS-linked onboard navigation system that already is programmed to block them from "no fly" zones around some 700 airports worldwide, according to Perry.

A U.S. government intelligence agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, said the man who flew the drone into the White House was one of its employees but the flight was not work-related. His name was not released.

DJI, based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, is privately owned and does not release sales details but industry analysts say it is the biggest maker of drones for civilian use. Perry said the Phantom is the most widely used civilian drone in the United States.

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DJI Technology Co.: www.dji.com

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