No more drone strikes on White House as DJI changes rules

29 Jan 2015

A new software update for DJI-made drones will see all flights disabled around not just the White House in Washington, DC, but also the thousands of airports in the US.

Following recent drone crashes in starkly contrasting environments such as the home of the US president and down south along the country’s border with Mexico, a rushed through change in flight rules will no doubt appease Barack Obama and co.

The update is mandatory, but not quite. Owners of most DJI drones won’t be forced into downloading the update, but those who decide against taking it will mss out on future upgrades, according to Time.

“We are pushing this out a bit earlier to lead in encouraging responsible flight,” said DJI spokesperson Michael Perry. “With the unmanned aerial systems community growing on a daily basis, we feel it is important to provide pilots additional tools to help them fly safely and responsibly.”

The push for stronger regulations comes on the back of two rather weird drone-related stories in recent weeks.

First a drug mule drone crash-landed in Tijuana after struggling to carry 3kg of cocaine and crystal meth. The drone’s operator had attempted to bypass the strict border control between the two countries by flying the small six-bladed device over the expansive border wall, but failed to grasp the capabilities of the drone’s max payload.

Then last week a secret service member in the White House complex “heard and observed” a drone flying around before crashing into the ground. The pilot had allegedly been drinking.

These incidents, along with Obama and indeed the US Congress pressing for harsher controls over drone use, clearly sped up DJI’s presumably long-planned out evolution of flight rules.

No drones image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic