China’s DJI, the world’s largest drones maker, is said to have made software updates to prevent terrorist abuse.
According to the Financial Times, DJI modified its mobile app in February to prevent its drones from flying in Iraq and Syria. This was confirmed late in the first press release of The Register.
DJI has set up a geofencing system to prevent users from launching drones in restricted areas, such as airports, prisons, and power stations, in accordance with the civil laws of the world.
Geofencing refers to setting a virtual boundary of a geographical location or a virtual boundary for a specific area. It means to put a kind of lock in software.
The measure is aimed at Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) bombers who fired drones in Iraq and Syria and dropped bombs on government troops.
US military officials have repeatedly expressed concern over ISIS’s use of drones, such as DJI’s Phantom, for terrorist purposes over the past few months.
The ISIS, which had used the drones for reconnaissance, began to drop grenades and improvised explosive device in the northern Iraqi Mosul area.
In January, ISIS formed a self-proclaimed “Mujahideen Unmanned Aerial Squad” and posted a video of the bombing of the drones on a promotional website run by them.
The Phantom, produced by DJI, is available for public photography, priced at hundreds of dollars and can easily be manipulated via a smartphone or remote control.
ISIS is putting low-cost drones produced by some other companies besides DJI into terrorism, and buying kits instead of buying finished goods.
DJI has not clarified why it has set Iraq and Syria as non-flying areas on its website.
The company only said that “we are making products for purely peaceful purposes and lamenting the use of drones to harm anyone.”
The statement added that mobile apps are constantly revising their drones’ flight-restricted areas to reflect changes in transient conditions that may cause special restrictions, such as aviation safety or national security reasons, wildfires, and large public events.
DJI has given a caveat, allowing users to unlock some flight restrictions. But the unlocking feature is also “not available in sensitive national security areas.”