Geofencing

What is Geofencing?

Geofencing technology is a location-based utility that tracks the location of a specific device and then triggers a predefined action when that device enters or exits a defined perimeter — a geofence. This utility has found widespread usage, from marketing to security, and allows for precise control or awareness of activity within the fenced area.

 

When it comes to drones, geofencing technology creates a virtual geographic boundary, which software triggers with a specific response when the drone enters or leaves the boundary. 

 

Autonomous drone inspections make this technology highly valuable. Since no human pilot controls the drone’s location, geofencing can act as a failsafe to control the location and altitude of the drone to stay within the correct region.

Types of Geofencing 

We can break geofencing tech down into two general categories based on how the boundaries are defined and managed, which are:

 

  1. Static geofencing: A static geofence is a fixed boundary that does not change. The location, size, and altitude (for drones) are set in stone. Any external data or changing conditions are ignored. This type of geofencing is ideal for enforcing safety zones, such as airports and government buildings, or for marketing a local business. Drone inspections for telecommunications towers can use this utility to comply with any restrictions on altitude and when operating near no-fly zones.
  2. Dynamic geofencing: Conversely, dynamic geofencing allows the boundary to change based on predetermined criteria. These criteria and resulting changes are configured by specific use cases, giving operators a high degree of flexibility. Dynamic geofencing for drone inspections can adjust boundaries based on weather conditions, flight restrictions, or emergencies. 

 

Depending on the software, you may be able to combine both types to create a solution that respects static restrictions, such as flight altitude, while also responding to weather conditions or emergencies.

Core Components of Geofencing for Drones

Drone geofencing requires several different components working together, including:

 

  • Zone radius: This geofenced area is defined by a radius around a central point. This radius sets the boundary that drones can operate within and is typically measured in meters or kilometers. The radius is user-defined as needed for the given inspection.
  • GPS coordinates: Drones with GPS capabilities are able to provide precise coordinates about their location, which enables drones to understand where they are in relation to the geofence boundary. 
  • Virtual perimeter: This invisible boundary encompasses the geofenced area and is created by using the zone radius and GPS coordinates to define a specific shape and size. Predefined actions are triggered when drones pass or approach this perimeter, such as turning around or sending an alert.
  • Real-time data syncing: For dynamic geofencing, external data must be synchronized with the drone so it’s able to react to any changing conditions, like incoming weather. Any drone inspections that have an element of dynamic geofencing will need this component, whereas entirely static geofences will not.

 

Static and dynamic geofencing have different requirements or use components in varying ways. If you’re looking for a new geofencing solution, make sure it offers the capabilities you’ll need.

Top Benefits of Digital Geofencing

Geofencing offers significant benefits for any use case, and many of them are magnified for autonomous drone inspections. Having failsafes and controls is vital as drones are operating entirely independently. Let’s explore a few of these benefits that enhance the entire inspection process.

Drone Fleet Management

Geofencing technology makes the complex responsibility of fleet management much simpler. Technicians may have several active drones conducting inspections and geofencing allows drones to manage themselves when it comes to altitude and overall area of operations.

Real-time Monitoring

Drones can be monitored in real-time with precise location data using geofencing technology. If a drone deviates from its expected location, technicians can act immediately to prevent possible issues. 

 

Additionally, real-time monitoring helps with mission planning and execution by allowing for on-the-fly changes, either automatically enforced by geofence policies or manual intervention.

Enhanced Safety and Compliance

Many locations with telecom towers are subject to regulations regarding drone flights. Static geofencing allows drones to abide by these regulations and avoid potential non-compliance penalties.

 

Telcos must also often inspect towers within populated areas. Assuming autonomous drones are allowed for inspections in these areas, geofences protect the safety of those in the area by restricting drones to a tightly confined area. Otherwise, a drone may create hazardous conditions, such as flying into a power line.

Scalable and Customizable

Geofencing for drone use cases is highly adaptable to the specific tower and its area that needs to be inspected. This flexibility also supports scalability, enabling drone inspection processes to grow and evolve without an extensive overhaul at a certain volume.

 

Drone inspections can also be adapted to inspection-specific requirements that vary dramatically from the norm without much effort. Some towers might have varying environmental conditions, strict flight regulations, or be within a populated area — geofencing configurations can be easily changed to accommodate these requirements.