With more and more events related to drone debacles hitting the news, the FAA is gathering more and more ammunition against the consumer drone market. There has been a longstanding debate now with the FAA and AMA concerning FPV and other issues surrounding RC flight. As more mistakes are made by hobbyists such as flying over football games and other areas drawing more attention to the matter of flying drones in public places and potentially creating public safety hazards, this debate is continuing to escalate.
The most recent high profile event to hit the media was the recent crash landing of a DJI Phantom drone in the lawn of the white house. DJI CEO Frank Wang recently was quoted as saying “We have to make something that cannot go wrong in any scenario.” DJI has stated they are planning on releasing firmware updates that will be required by owners of their DJI Phantoms which will enforce no fly zones on the drones making them stay away from sensitive buildings, airports, and other areas.
This brings up the question concerning a DJI product you may own. If the FAA wins out in some of the legal regulations it is wanting to push down to RC pilots, are personal rights being infringed upon if mandatory firmware updates could even potentially disable your drone for a period of time or indefinitely? It makes you stop and think about the potential power that manufacturers such as DJI have over the products running their firmware.
This was one of the negative things that Flitetest brought up in their recent review of the DJI Inspire One drone. Josh Scott mentioned that the drone forced them after a few minutes of flying to install the latest software on the drone before they could continue to fly it. As Josh mentioned, it is a little bit concerning that the manufacturer has this amount of power over your property that you have bought from them.
It is certainly interesting territory as the world of drones has exploded in the past couple of years with many hobbyists getting into the hobby of RC flight and particularly FPV and drones. As more and more take to the air with drones, the friction between the FAA and other governmental authorities is sure to escalate.
One thing for all hobbyists out there to consider, is that doing things that aren’t smart such as flying in public sporting events, crashing into the Whitehouse lawn and flying in any other reckless fashion is going to make things harder for everyone and provide ammunition for agencies out there to shut down harmless RC flying for everyone.