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DJI: Register your drones or no more cool flying vids for you

Firm will kill live in-flight streaming unless you hand over your details

By Gareth Corfield, 23 May 2017

Chinese drone maker DJI is forcing all new users of its drones to register their devices through its app - and is throttling flight performance if they don't comply.

The new application activation process will restrict DJI drones to a maximum height of 98 feet (30 metres) and a lateral sphere of 164 feet (50m) around the operator - and live streaming via the onboard camera will be completely disabled.

A statement on the company's website says: "This new step, to take effect at the end of next week, ensures you will use the correct set of geospatial information and flight functions for your aircraft, as determined by your geographical location and user profile. All existing flight safety limitations, such as geofencing boundaries and altitude limits, remain the same."

This move seems to mirror the sort of compulsory registration measures that regulators in the EU and the UK are currently mulling over. The basic idea is that people are less likely to use their drones for naughtiness if the authorities are looking over their shoulders and able to track them down instantly.

In the UK, non-commercial drone operators can only fly within line of sight at heights of up to 400 feet. Various other restrictions exist, in particular on keeping clear of buildings or people. With the appropriate permissions, commercial operators can increase those minima.

"The feature applies to all aircraft (except standalone A3 and N3) that have been upgraded to the latest firmware or when using future versions of the DJI GO and GO 4 apps," DJI added.

In the UK, airprox reports mentioning drones are relatively common, though some question whether all such reports actually involve drones or whether hyper-safety-aware airline pilots are leaping to conclusions and misreporting plastic bags caught by the wind.

Last month DJI quietly geofenced off large chunks of Iraq and Syria in conjunction with a US-led military offensive against local extremist groups, as exclusively revealed on The Register. ®

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