from the and-you-thought-you-owned-it dept.
DJI Spark drones will not fly after September 1 until users have applied a mandatory software update:
DJI Spark drones will not fly after 1 September unless owners apply a mandatory software update, the device's maker has warned. DJI said the update to the small drone's core software fixes some flight control issues suffered by the gadget.
The drone maker said it had warned owners about the deadline so they could avoid having their craft grounded. But the mandatory update has caused some owners to question the control DJI retains over their devices.
In a statement, DJI said the update would improve how the Spark manages power. It also helps it work with smart spectacles that give owners an immersive view of what the drone films. It added: "If the firmware of either the aircraft or the battery is not updated by September 1, Spark will not be able to take off."
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
Related: DJI introduced new software to stop its drones from flying in restricted airspace.
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DJI Will Ground Drones If They Don't Apply a Software Update