The United States Department of the Interior said yesterday that it will keep its entire fleet grounded composed of entirely DJI drones. Except the department will only operate them for emergency purposes like search and rescue and firefighting. The department raised security concerns about Chinese-made drones and cites it as a threat to national security.
Decision to ground more than 800 drones happened back in October due to concerns that China was spying the United States. Furthermore, the departments were worried that cyberattacks would further exacerbate with assistance of drones made in Chinese, according to news reports by The Wall Street Journal in October.
Which means that despite the in-depth review that department has undergo with DJI drones, they are still worried that these quadcopters are danger to the national security. Department of the Interior stated that drones are important to missions but only can use these technology for emergencies that will not compromise United States’ national security interests.
DJI, one of the world-class consumer drone industry issued a scathing statement direct to the decision made by Department of the Interior:
DJI is extremely disappointed by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) order which inappropriately treats a technology’s country of origin as a litmus test for its performance, security and reliability. This action will ground the entire DOI drone program, which relies on drones made with globally sourced components to create the federal government’s largest and most innovative civilian drone fleet. This decision makes clear that the U.S. government’s concerns about DJI drones, which make up a small portion of the DOI fleet, have little to do with security and are instead part of a politically-motivated agenda to reduce market competition and support domestically produced drone technology, regardless of its merits.
DJI makes some of the industry’s most safe, secure, and trusted drone platforms for commercial operators. The security of our products designed specifically for the DOI and other U.S. government agencies have been independently tested and validated by U.S. cybersecurity consultants, U.S. federal agencies including the Department of Interior and the Department of Homeland Security, which proves today’s decision has nothing to do with security.
We are opposed to the politically-motivated country of origin restrictions masquerading as cybersecurity concerns and call for policymakers and industry stakeholders to create clear standards that will give commercial and government drone operators the assurance they need to confidently evaluate drone technology on the merits of performance, security and reliability, no matter where it is made.
As of current, the DJI drones are still grounded. There is no known information whether the ban will be lifted. According to the order by the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, it is expected that its drone fleet will remain in effect until it is amended, revoked or superseded.
Meanwhile DJI Matrice M300 drone is due for release by end of February 2020 and it comes with a lot of upgrades, including monster-size specifications and built-in dual thermal camera. It is also rumored that the company is working on three new consumer drones this year, potentially Mavic 3 Pro, Mavic 2 Air and an unnamed drone.
If the Department of the Interior decides to impose strict ban on DJI drones, there is an alternative option to the popular DJI drones. Autel Robotics, a US-based drone company recently rolled out Autel EVO 2 which boasts an impressive list of specifications. It comes with built-in 8K camera and includes dual thermal camera just for under $2,000.
Which makes it one of the most affordable option for the consumer. The competition between DJI and Autel Robotics is definitely growing tight as they battle against legals and maintains the ability to fly recreational and commercially.
What do you think about Department of the Interior’s decision to ground an entire DJI drone fleet due to so-called security risk? Are they overreacting or do you think it is the right decision to make? Let us know what you think by commenting below in the comments section.