Russian Company Is Selling Mods to Bypass DJI Drone Safety Features

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DJI started in 2006 as a scrappy little Chinese company selling drone aircraft to a tiny niche market. However, interest in drones has exploded in recent years, and DJI has become a name known all over the world with around 70 percent of the consumer drone market. With that kind of recognition comes additional responsibilities. After a series of stern warnings from government regulators, DJI was forced to put safety measures in place on its drone aircraft. Specifically, the devices are limited in speed and where they can fly based on geolocation. Now, a Russian company, ironically called CopterSafe, is allowing drone owners to bypass these restrictions.

DJI’s No Fly Zone (NFZ) is billed as a feature that can keep the owner of a drone out of trouble. In most places, it’s illegal to fly a drone in restricted airspace. Violating these rules can result in hefty fines. If you’re already in a restricted area, DJI’s drones will refuse to lift off. If you attempt to fly into a restricted area, the drone will pause and refuse to go any further. DJI has a handy website that shows you all the places its drones will refuse to fly, and it is admittedly a lot of places. Virtually every airport around the world is a no-fly zone, along with large stadiums, military bases, and national parks. There are also limitations on how high a drone can fly (usually 500 meters, depending on model).

CopterSafe offers various mods for DJI drones, most of which are software-based. They are advertised with features like disabling NFZ restrictions and increasing the performance of drones beyond the limits imposed by DJI. For example, the “Super Sport” mod for the Phantom 4 turns the vehicle into a “mad racing drone” with a top speed of 20 meters per second (44 mph).

Mavic-1700

A drone modded to break the 500 meter altitude limit.

These mods are priced from $200 to as much as $500, and most of them require no hardware manufacturing. That’s probably a nice business for CopterSafe. However, users are cautioned against updating drone firmware after installing the mods. It’s possible DJI will block CopterSafe, or there will simply be an incompatibility with the updated firmware. Either way, things can break. These mods are screwing with the software that keeps your expensive drone in the air, so you’re already taking a risk.

It almost goes without saying, but we don’t recommend you start installing drone mods that help you break the law. It’s unlikely the Russian firm will stop selling the software, so it’s probably up to DJI to plug the holes CopterSafe is using to disable safety features.

Now read: Best drone picks for every budget

source : https://www.extremetech.com/electronics/251369-russian-company-selling-mods-bypass-safety-features-dji-drones

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