from the Sasha-and-Malia-feel-left-out dept.
DJI Innovations, the leading manufacturer of drones, launched a beta version of its new "geofencing" system that should keep its drones from flying into restricted airspace. The new feature is called Geospatial Environment Online (GEO), and it will let users know about areas where drone flight is restricted, either due to regulations or because of safety issues.
GEO will stop DJI drones from taking off in restricted areas like airports, Washington D.C., and temporarily restricted areas such as places near forest fires or big stadium events. Sensitive areas around prisons and power plants will be off limits in the system as well.
DJI owners can temporarily opt out of GEO and unlock some of the flight restrictions, but there's a catch. They must have verified accounts with the company, with a credit card, debit card, or cellphone number on file. Users cannot turn off all the flight restrictions though; places like Washington D.C. will remain completely off limits.
Days ago, South Korean authorities announced that they'd capture any drone that got too close to Olympics event facilities. If you have a DJI-made craft, you won't even be able to get close. The UAV maker is releasing a software patch that creates a no-fly zone around Olympic areas.
For the duration of the games, DJI drones won't be able to fly through areas in the South Korean cities of Pyeongchang, Gangneung, Bongpyeong and Jeongseon.
"Safety is DJI's top priority and we've always taken proactive steps to educate our customers to operate within the law and where appropriate, implement temporary no-fly zones during major events," the company said in a statement, according to TechCrunch. "We believe this feature will reduce the potential for drone operations that could inadvertently create safety or security concerns."
Drone hackers/researchers can modify the firmware for DJI drones, thanks to rogue DJI developers and a fork of a public Github repo:
Github rejected a DMCA takedown request from Chinese drone-maker DJI after someone forked source code left in the open by a naughty DJI developer, The Register can reveal.
This included AES keys permitting decryption of flight control firmware, which could allow drone fliers with technical skills to remove geofencing from the flight control software: this software prevents DJI drones from flying in certain areas such as the approach paths for airports, or near government buildings deemed to be sensitive.
Though the released key is not for the latest firmware version, The Register has seen evidence (detailed below) that drone hackers are already incorporating it in modified firmware available for anyone to download and flash to their drones.
[...] In fact the people who posted the keys to DJI's kingdom, as well as source code for various projects, were DJI devs. The company said in a later statement that they were sacked.
The code was forked by drone researcher Kevin Finisterre, who submitted a successful rebuttal to the takedown request on the grounds that Github's terms and conditions explicitly permit forking of public repos.
[...] Drone hackers have already begun distributing modded firmware for DJI's popular Phantom drones, as we can see on – where else? – Github
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