Although DJI has made no official announcement, according to information on DJI’s website, the production of their proprietary DJI drone-detection product, the Aeroscope, has been discontinued.
The product page for the DJI Aeroscope displays a pop-up that reads: “The Aeroscope is no longer in production. For the latest in DJI technology, please view our product recommendations below.”
According to UAV Hive, rumors are emerging that DJI is working on a second version of the Aeroscope.
What is the Aeroscope?
The Aeroscope is advertised with a 50 km range (antenna dependent) and can be integrated with users’ existing security systems to provide an integrated monitoring system. The system supports public cloud, private cloud, and local (internal network) deployment options capable of meeting specific needs such as off-site monitoring and data segregation.
The system can provide real-time telemetry information on most DJI drone models, including flight status, paths, and other information.
The original intent for this product was for use by law enforcement, public safety, or other similar agencies to monitor drones flying in restricted airspace and provide a method to locate the pilots.
In the last year, the company has been criticized for its use in the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov blamed DJI for “helping Russia to kill the Ukrainians.” Russian soldiers utilized the Aeroscope to locate and attack Ukrainian drone operators with aerial strikes. Adding to the issues, signals broadcasted by DJI drones are not encrypted, even though DJI had said that they were.
For additional information on DJI security vulnerabilities, please read- Drone Security and the Mysterious Case of DJI’s DroneID
Brendan Schulman, former VP of Policy at DJI, provides his opinion via Twitter on the two reasons behind DJI discontinuing the Aeroscope. “It doesn’t make sense to continue supporting a feature that was created to assist US security interests when being constantly attacked by US security agencies,” he says. He also cited the Federal Aviation Administration’s implementation of Remote ID.
A Quick Review of Remote ID
Remote ID will be implemented in the United States in September 2023. The FAA has provided drone operators with three methods to comply with the Remote ID rule:
- Remote ID is built into the drone
- Remote ID capability is achieved through a module attached to the drone
- Drones without Remote ID broadcasting can fly in an FAA-recognized Identification Area (FRIA) within visual line of sight
Contrary to popular belief, it should be noted that not all drones are required to broadcast information via Remote ID. According to the FAA website, “All drone pilots required to register their UAS must operate their aircraft in accordance with the final rule on remote ID beginning September 16, 2023, which gives drone owners sufficient time to upgrade their aircraft.” The rule interpretation implies that drones that weigh 249 grams or less and are not being used for commercial activity would not be required to comply with the Remote ID rules.
Remote ID will broadcast must transmit the following elements:
- A unique identifier for the drone;
- The drone’s latitude, longitude, geometric altitude, and velocity;
- An indication of the latitude, longitude, and geometric altitude of control station (standard) or take-off location (broadcast module);
- A time mark; and
- Emergency status (Standard Remote ID Drone only)
There are many unknowns related to Remote ID. One unknown is the compliance rate for drones not manufactured with the Remote ID module built into the drone. The other often-asked question is the Remote ID modules’ broadcast range and the receiver density needed to achieve a reasonable awareness of compliant or cooperative drones flying in the airspace.
Although there are many unknowns, the controversy regarding DJI drones, using the Aeroscope as an airspace awareness tool, privacy, and security concerns will be around for the foreseeable future.
For further industry insights, please read Counter-UAS Storylines To Keep An Eye On In 2023