The range and functionality of drones continues to improve, but the responsible and safe use of drones clearly isn't. Just last month, drone maker DJI offered a $145,000 reward for helping to identify individuals flying drones near airports in China. Now DJI is taking more drastic action and will restrict the functionality of each new drone until the owner activates it and registers their details with the company.
According to The Register, without activation each DJI drone will be limited to flying at a maximum height of 98 feet (30 meters) and a range of 164 feet (50 meters) from where the operator is located. Live video streaming from the drone while in flight will also be disabled. When you consider the maximum remote control range of the DJI Phantom 4 is 16,400 feet (5,000 meters), you can see how limited these pre-activation restrictions are.
The DJI website explains that the new activation process will take effect at the end of this week. It will require owners to set up an account and log in to get the latest version of the DJI GO or Go 4 App. Each account will be verified, the software and firmware updated, and the full functionality of the linked drone unlocked.
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DJI reminds all drone owners to " always follow applicable laws and regulations in the countries where they operate." If you don't, then you could face prosecution. And that's now going to be more likely because your details will be linked to the drone.
On the one hand, this can be viewed as an invasion of privacy and a form of tracking. On the other, by doing this DJI is giving drone owners a big incentive to not fly their drones within restricted areas such as around airports where serious harm could be caused.
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