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posted by martyb on Friday May 26 2017, @10:03AM   Printer-friendly
from the does-that-make-this-a-palm-pilot? dept.

What's the non-soyvertisement angle for this drone? Uh... you can spy on people with it!

The drone starts at a surprisingly accessible $499. That was really going to be the big sticking point here — with most pundits considering anything under $1,000 a good play for the company's generally high-quality but high-priced products. It's still not cheap, exactly, giving the number of budget drones that have flooded the market in recent years, but with all of the functionality the company has jammed into the thing, the Spark could well be DJI's first truly mainstream drone.

[...] [Aside] from size (which let's be honest, is the most important thing here), the Spark's got some pretty impressive tricks up its sleeves. It can take off from the palm of your hands and land back in it with little hassle. The demo of the functionality went exactly as planned, which isn't always the case at these sorts of events, especially given the swamp of cell phone signals that is Grand Central Station.

Even more impressive is a gesture-based control, about which the assembled press made audibly excited mumbled comparisons to Star Wars. And yeah, there's a selfie function, too. Smiling with you arms folded will trigger the picture taking functionality.

It's only capable of recording 1080p! No 4K = useless!

In related news, DJI users will apparently need to login and register their drones to activate certain features.

[Ed note: From what I've read, it is generally suggested to keep all active drones away from any persons — including yourself. What makes this drone so different? --martyb]

Also at VentureBeat, USA Today, The Verge, and YouTube.

Original Submission

Related Stories

GitHub Rejects Drone-Maker DJI's DMCA Takedown After Encryption Keys Get Forked 19 comments

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

Previously: Man Gets Threats-Not Bug Bounty-After Finding DJI Customer Data in Public View

Related: DJI introduced new software to stop its drones from flying in restricted airspace.
Skip the Complex Tracking Software, DJI Says, and Give Drones an "Invisible" License Plate
$500 DJI Spark Drone can Take Off and Land from Your Palm
DJI Will Ground Drones If They Don't Apply a Software Update

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday May 26 2017, @12:09PM (2 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday May 26 2017, @12:09PM (#515926)

    One thing that makes a "drone like this" safer is that it is so very small and light. Less mass to lift means smaller props that have much lower potential for injury.

    I purchased a cheap little indigogo drone (specific name withheld to avoid rewarding the maker with any form of advertising), besides being delivered almost a year late, it was (is, I suppose) a horrid little thing - too heavy for its lift capability, barely able to hold position in the slightest breeze. But, as compared to a DJI phantom or similar "real quad" - the microdrone is really much less hazardous. You wouldn't want to take a prop-strike on your cornea, but it did lurch after launch into me more than once and prop-hits on bare skin didn't even leave a mark. The "professional" drone pilot I worked with managed to hit himself in the upper arm, through a shirt, once, that left several marks.

    Also, when the little angry bee hits a tree or something else and falls from the sky, it barely weighs enough to dent a car. Again, you wouldn't want it to smack you in the face after a 200' free-fall, but they are light enough to be mostly less than lethal on impact.

    • (Score: 2) by nishi.b on Saturday May 27 2017, @12:56PM (1 child)

      by nishi.b (4243) on Saturday May 27 2017, @12:56PM (#516391)

      Exactly. I bought a cheap drone from a chinese website to play with. It is smaller than my hand, very light, and I got my fingers in the props a number of times with a small stinging sensation and no marks.

      I then built a larger (250 mm diagonal), heavier drone (about 0.8kg with the battery) with help from a drone racing group, and once during the building process I forgot that the safety was off and that the props were attached to the motors, and as I was leaning on the RC transmitter, I just brushed the controls with my shirt. The props turned for about half a second, and I got 7 deep cuts in my index finger about 1mm from one another, fortunately not damaging a nerve or tendon. Since then I have been much more careful and I tried to fly it only in large open fields or on a beach when no one was nearer than about 300m. I voluntarily crashed it twice because it was getting too close to me, and even though I control it much better now, I still consider it like a flying mixer with unguarded blades.
      These were not extreme motors, but they still put 85W each at maximum speed...

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Saturday May 27 2017, @01:30PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday May 27 2017, @01:30PM (#516397)

        Any motor that will get 1/4th of a 0.8kg drone airborne and hovering is extreme. Maybe not extreme by today's drone standards, but extreme like a high performance RC aircraft from 10 years ago.

        Open props have always been extremely dangerous: []

  • (Score: 2) by art guerrilla on Friday May 26 2017, @01:17PM

    by art guerrilla (3082) on Friday May 26 2017, @01:17PM (#515944)

    i am telling you, once the nano-botz are loose, it is game over...
    they can go anywhere, do anything, and you won't have a fucking clue...
    he who controls the nano-botz, controls the universe...