Chinese company limits US drone use after White House crash

A photograph made available by the US Secret Service shows a recreational quadcopter that reportedly crashed into a tree in the grounds of the White House in Washington, DC on Jan 26 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
A photograph made available by the US Secret Service shows a recreational quadcopter that reportedly crashed into a tree in the grounds of the White House in Washington, DC on Jan 26 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A Chinese drone maker which created the small quadcopter that recently crashed on White House grounds said on Wednesday it is updating its drones to prohibit flight over the US capital.

The Shenzhen-based company DJI announced a software update for its "Phantom" series drone that will stop flight over all of the Washington area, spokesman Michael Perry said in an e-mail.

The update will prohibit the drones from flying within 25km of the capital.

GPS signals will determine the location of the drone and stop it from flying in the restricted areas.

The restricted use is based off of the Federal Aviation Administration's unmanned-flight guidelines for the area, the company said.

A government employee crashed one of the Phantom drones onto the White House lawn early in the morning Monday, causing a security scare for the President's protection service.

Civilian drone use has recently surged in popularity, presenting new regulatory headaches for states and the federal government.

"With the unmanned aerial systems community growing on a daily basis, we feel it is important to provide pilots additional tools to help them fly safely and responsibly," Mr Perry said.