This has been a saga thats been developing for a number of weeks now, starting with accusations from Ukraine (through Blynk co-founder Bolodymyr Shymanskyy) that Russia is exploiting DJIs AeroScope system in order to track drones within Ukraine in order to recognize possible targets while blocking Ukraine from doing the same (and even tracking drones within their own airspace).
It was a way to for law enforcement around the world to get some control over the drones being flown unlawfully in methods or locations they shouldnt. It looks like AeroScope may be DJIs failure if there isnt more transparency over its implementation.
For those not familiar, AeroScope is DJIs drone tracking system that enables authorities all over the world to identify errant drones flying in places where they should not. Its created for usage around federal government buildings, airports, special occasions, etc where the airspace is restricted and highly controlled. Weve covered it here on DIYP when it was released in 2017, in addition to a presentation of how it works.
Precisely whats been going on is part rumour, part rumor and part main declarations that might or may not be real, but heres a rough timeline of what appears to have occurred over the last couple of weeks. It ought to be made clear at this moment that absolutely nothing has actually yet been proven in any case.
DJIs US representative, Adam Lisberg denied the claims and DJI Support responded via Twitter, specifying that there are “breakdowns” with the AeroScope system within Ukraine. Quick forward to today day and Germanys largest electronics merchant, MediaMarkt, has actually now pulled all DJI drones from its website and racks in Germany and the Netherlands as a result of what Pandaily calls “Security Concerns”.
10 March 2022
Blynk co-founder Bolodymyr Shymanskyy posts a 7 part tweet stating that DJI has limited the abilities of its AeroScope tech for the Ukrainian army, providing the Russian army with a “substantial air reconnaissance edge to Russian intruders”. He does keep in mind that it may be a technical issue however feels that it is unlikely.
DJI US Spokesperson, Adam Lisberg reacts to the claims, stating that the reports are incorrect which DJI knows “issues with some AeroScopr systems in Ukraine”.
According to recent reports from Ukraine, the Chinese drone manufacturer @DJIGlobal have limited the abilities of its “Aeroscope” technology for Ukrainian army, providing a substantial air reconnaissance edge to Russian invaders.Read more: What is AEROSCOPE? (1/N).
— vsh (@vshymanskyy) March 10, 2022.
Im the head United States spokesman for DJI, and let me state very clearly– these reports are FALSE. We understand problems with some AeroScope units in Ukraine; they might be linked to prolonged loss of power/internet. There is NO intentional action to downgrade AeroScope there.
— Adam Lisberg (@adamlisberg) March 10, 2022.
13 March 2022.
The DJI Support Twitter account likewise reacts to the claims mentioning that there are “AeroScope breakdowns” in Ukraine and that theyre dealing with fixing them.
DJI continues to offer full international technical assistance and services, including our AeroScope Remote ID service. We are working with consumers to fix some AeroScope breakdowns in Ukraine that we believe relate to interim loss of power and/or internet services.
— DJI Support (@DJISupport) March 13, 2022.
16 March 2022.
Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov sends a letter to DJI founder and CEO Frank Wang over his issues about the usage of DJI products in Ukraine by the Russian army and asking DJI to cease doing any organization in Russia.
In 21 days of the war, russian troops has currently killed 100 Ukrainian kids. they are utilizing DJI products in order to navigate their missile. @DJIGlobal are you sure you desire to be a partner in these murders? Block your products that are assisting russia to kill the Ukrainians! pic.twitter.com/4HJcTXFxoY.
— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) March 16, 2022.
DJI reacts to the Ukrainian VPM, mentioning that “all DJI products are designed for civilian usage and can not fulfill military specs” and when again disputes the accusations made versus it.
— DJI (@DJIGlobal) March 16, 2022.
25 March 2022.
German electronic devices merchant MediaMarkt reacts to a tweet inquiring to stop selling DJI items. Their action is in three parts (1, 2, 3), specifying that theyve gotten info from a variety of sources that the Russian army is “using products and information from the Chinese drone supplier DJI for military activities in Ukraine”.
Hey there Dang, in the last few days, we have gotten increasingly more info from numerous sources that the Russian army is utilizing products and information from the Chinese drone provider DJI for military activities in Ukraine.
As an accountable business, we have taken instant action and removed the manufacturer from our item range groupwide until more notice. We will carefully analyze more signs and advancements.
With this step, we as a business send a clear signal for the worths that have the greatest concern for us and which we see being attacked in an inappropriate method by Russias aggressive war versus Ukraine.
Your MediaMarkt social media team.
— MediaMarkt on Twitter (1, 2, 3).
28 March 2022.
Over the last few years, DJI has dealt with a variety of obstacles and security concerns with the United States Army banning DJI drone use over what it called “cyber vulnerabilities”– although the timing around the preliminary release of AeroScope is hassle-free– and not too long after, DJI was accused of spying on the USA for the Chinese government. In December of 2020, DJI was contributed to the United States financial blacklist.
Now, it merely appears to be a method of control, if the accusations end up being real. Even if they dont end up being real, the capacity is definitely there for it to be used for dubious purposes even if, as DJI claims, they “can not meet” the requirements.
AeroScope isnt working properly in Ukraine and obviously hasnt been for a minimum of a number of weeks now. There dont appear to have actually been any reports of malfunctions for Russian AeroScope gadgets. DJIs accusers state that DJI has the capability to turn off the AeroScope tracking for drones within Ukraine and DJI says they do not– which appears patently untrue, as DJI might push a firmware update whenever they liked to disable that feature, which Ukrainians would then be complimentary to install at their benefit making their drones untrackable– to anybody.
Im not stating DJI is necessarily doing anything other than safeguarding their own company interests– after all, they have bills and lots of incomes to pay– however things dont seem to be looking great for the business right now. AeroScope was seen as a supposedly positive force full of hope when it was first launched.
They have consistently stated that their drones “can not fulfill military requirements” but Im type of curious what those “specs” are, exactly. I indicate, if theyre saying that their drones dont adhere to the technical “mil-spec” requirements for electronic devices manufacturers, then thats maybe true, although that does not stop their items from being used and abused in a military capability.
For those not familiar, AeroScope is DJIs drone tracking system that enables authorities around the world to recognize errant drones flying in places where they shouldnt. DJIs accusers state that DJI has the capability to turn off the AeroScope tracking for drones within Ukraine and DJI states they dont– which seems patently false, as DJI could press a firmware update any time they liked to disable that function, which Ukrainians would then be free to install at their convenience making their drones untrackable– to anyone.
In a nutshell …
DJI stating that their drones “can not fulfill military requirements” is a bit like Wilson Sporting Goods stating that a Louisville Slugger “can not fulfill assault and battery specifications”. It implied that United States business couldnt offer to DJI, however DJI items might still be sold in the USA. As of March 2021, DJI held 76% of the worldwide drone market share based on sales volume, followed by Intel.
DJI responds when again challenging the allegations made against it and repeating the previous declaration from 16 March. They also contest MediaMarkts own claim over why MediaMarkt got rid of DJIs items from its online shop and retail outlets.
DJI likewise states that they can not obtain user details from the flight data which no recognizable data about the drone or its users is sent out to DJI, yet multiple reports over the last numerous years highlight information leaks from DJI drones and the DJI app that supposedly have been kept track of sending large quantities of information back to Chinese services.
As of March 2021, DJI held 76% of the international drone market share based on sales volume, followed by Intel. Well, I say “followed”, DJIs well ahead. Ive seen a number of individuals on my social media feed over the last couple of weeks attempting to unload their DJI drones in favour of changing to another brand name.
It meant that United States business couldnt offer to DJI, however DJI items could still be sold in the USA. In October of last year, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr recommended prohibiting DJI products in the USA completely over “National Security” dangers.
A number of DJI drones (along with other brand names), for instance, have actually been shown in photos retrofitted with grenades and other dynamites for terrorist uses for many years. DJI stating that their drones “can not fulfill military specifications” is a bit like Wilson Sporting Goods stating that a Louisville Slugger “can not satisfy assault and battery requirements”. Sure, a baseball bat isnt made to beat the crap out of individuals, but theyre absolutely capable of it depending on whos holding it and what their intent is.