In a surprise move last week, the Pentagon has banned all personnel from using DJI drones because of a perceived risk of cyber vulerabilities.
The memo goes to far as to intruct personnel to remove all batteries and delete all Apps on Army devices.
DJI’s drones are accessed by the operator through a smart phone or tablet app that collects all flight data, as well as audio picked up by the smart phone or tablet if enabled.
The Pentagon’s primary concern appears to be the sharing of what could be sensitive operations, locations and communications with the Chinese government.
DJI Global is the largest manufacturer of commercial and recreational drones, used in everything from Hollywood productions to vacation films. It is estimated that DJI enjoys roughly 70% share in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle(UAV) market. The company has been under considerable public scrutiny this year as their drones have allegedly been used by customers near airports and other no fly zones that have disrupted air travel and caused serious safety issues for travelers.
UAVs are an increasingly important tool for police and military in training, and active campaigns, and in the short term this will impair the Pentagon’s activities until a suitable substitute for DJI products is found.
This news will no doubt breathe additional life into US drone companies who are struggling to compete or carve out a niche in DJI’s long shadow of dominance.