From the Floor at Airworks: DJI is Fighting Back, and Gathering the Drone Industry Around Them

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DJI is fighting back against accusations of data security issues by building a community of support in the industry to demand clear standards.

At the Airworks keynote address this morning, representatives from DJI, Booz Allen, the Brookings Institute, and the Oil and Gas industry took the stage to make a critical point: the drone industry needs clear standards for data security and other requirements.

This year a series of leaked draft memos and rumors have led to government proposals that would limit the use of government funds to purchase drones manufactured in China, based solely upon “country of origin.” While the company is not named specifically, the proposals would have a direct impact on DJI as the largest manufacturer and drone industry leader. With estimates of their market share ranging between 65 -85%, these proposals would have a major impact on government and public sector users who rely upon DJI products as a mature and cost effective solution.

It’s clear, however, that DJI is fighting back against these proposals and accusations of data security breaches, which they state unequivocably are entirely false.  Throughout the conference, DJI VP and U.S. Country Manager Mario Rebello has made the point that government and enterprise users must define clear standards for data security and require vendors to meet them, rather than creating regulations based only upon “country of origin.”

While DJI is the largest manufacturer in the industry, they’re working to gather the industry beside them to work with regulators on creating these standards.  “Our partnerships remain critical and core,” says Rebello.  “We are committed to maintaining that ecosystem and strengthening the drone economy.”

As representatives from DJI took the stage, DJI’s strategy for building their ecosystem became crystal clear.  DJI is developing to anticipated safety standards by including features like ADS-B receivers on drones over 250 grams manufactured next year, the Aeroscope solution for remote ID, and other safety features: which VP of Policy and Legal Affairs Brendan Schulman says represent over 30,000 development hours.  The company is also making massive investments in how they support their partners: scaling out their SDK programs to allow more development on the platform, improving channel management programs, and building out enterprise support.

DJI is also forming partnerships with powerful technology partners like Microsoft, developing sophisticated integrated systems that will allow enterprise to combine 3rd party and drone data, and enable a broad set of data visualization tools.   They’re working with large and influential customers in the Oil and Gas industry.  And they continue to contribute on government industry collaborations like the Drone Advisory Committee.

Despite the fact that accusations of data security issues remain vague, the risk of regulation is clear: and DJI is fighting back.  While efforts to explain and document where the data goes and new features that allow the user to choose security features have not been sufficient to stem the rumors, the strategy of gathering powerful support from partners in and around the drone industry may yet prove ultimately effective.




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