Current news is saturated with stories about Russia due to FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation. While the following story isn’t related to that investigation, it is related to Russia and the subject matter is legally questionable at best.
For around $350, a Russian software company, named Coptersafe, will “jailbreak” your DJI drone.
Once jailbroken, your DJI drone will ignore no-fly zones, ignore restricted areas, ignore the 500-meter height limit, add support for aftermarket FLIR and fly faster (climb at 22 mph vs. stock at 6-7 mph). Not only does this sound very illegal, it also sounds very unsafe. For example, just consider how faster flight speeds will impact battery consumption, which in turn will confuse the auto landing and auto return home functions.
A Russian software company, ironically named Coptersafe, is selling modifications to help consumers get past government- and military-enforced no-fly zones.
In recent years, the US government has cracked down on unauthorized drone flights. As a response to the warnings and fines imposed by the law, drone maker DJI has put a number of safety measures in place, including geofencing and setting limits on speed. A statement on the Federal Aviation Administration website encourages people to report drone sightings around planes and other aircraft.
Coptersafe’s mods are made specifically for DJI drones, according to a report by Motherboard. Coptersafe offers modifications to those limits. You can confuse your drone’s GPS into thinking it’s okay to fly in no-fly zones and in absolutely restricted areas, and you can remove the 500-meter height limit, among other customizations. Each mod goes for an average price of $350, and the company offers both physical modification circuits and software mods that can be downloaded.
While Coptersafe may sound like “vapor-ware,” I assure you it’s real. Coptersafe and it’s DJI mods have been covered by a variety of news outlets including the Verge and Vice; it’s also been covered at length on social sites such as Reddit.
If you’d like to see Coptersafe’s mods in action, then checkout their YouTube channel. As of the last time I checked, there were eight videos available.
(For the techs in our audience, Coptersafe also maintains a publicly available GitHub repo.)