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Drone maker DJI is helping to stop rogue drones from spoiling the Olympics

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Marek Uliasz/123rf
The Rio Olympics is about to kick off, and the last thing Usain Bolt wants as he tears down the track in pursuit of yet another gold medal is a quadcopter landing on his head. You may scoff, but it almost happened to this competitor at a skiing event in Italy last year, though admittedly that particular machine did have permission to be in the sky.

Aiming to limit the chances of a rogue drone causing havoc at this month’s sporting extravaganza in Brazil, whether by accident or as part of a deliberate act, DJI has modified its software to create no-fly zones in and around stadiums in six cities hosting events.

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The restrictions, which were put in place at the request of the Brazilian authorities, are aimed at drone-owning regular Joes who might deem it a really great idea to test out their toy above large crowds or close to athletes. The no-fly zones should also help to maintain security in the various locations, limiting the chances of a drone being used in any kind of attack or as part of a political protest.

It’s not the first time for the Chinese drone company to implement temporary flight restrictions at high-profile events – it did the same at the recent Euro soccer championships in France as well as the G7 Summit in Japan in May.

The drone-based flight restrictions won’t, however, be affecting broadcasters’ plans to use the technology for dramatic aerial shots during their coverage of the Games. The BBC, for example, is working with Olympic Broadcasting Services for a number of contests, including the rowing event at Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Business Insider reported recently.

Mindful of safety issues, the BBC’s Ron Chakraborty said, “We’re having to be very careful with these things to make sure they don’t fly over the public, and they have to have a 30-meter-wide space when they land. Trying to find that space is quite tricky.”

With drone technology at the last Olympics nowhere near today’s standards, we’re certainly looking forward to seeing how broadcasters use their advanced camera-equipped copters to grab dramatic live footage at this year’s event.

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