back to article Multiple-guess quiz will make Brit fliers safer, hopes drone-maker DJI

British drone users will have to take a multiple-guess quiz before using their Christmas toys this year, while drone users appear to have, once again, got around pre-eminent drone maker DJI's software-based flight restrictions. These developments and others occurred over the busy Christmas and New Year period, being lost in …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which of the following statements is correct?

    A. I can fly my drone near aeroplanes without any problems.

    B. It's safe to fly my drone out of line of sight.

    C. Using drones to perv on neighbours is socially acceptable.

    D. Multiple choice quizzes where you get to answer multiple times are a load of rubbish.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But we are doing something TM and is your pay not also based on filling out those quizzes every year and that safety refresher?

      At this rate, I'd expect this is how they train surgeons soon?

    2. kotaKat

      The worst part is the American version of the quiz so far. It includes the stupidest question regarding "where can you not fly" where the correct answer is some random airport within the Washington DC Special Flight Rules Area.

      Like I'm expected to know that?

    3. Haku

      I fly my micro quads out of line of sight almost every flight - FPV goggles make this hobby a lot more fun :)

      1. MyffyW Silver badge
        Coat

        I used to bulls-eys micro quads in my T-16 .... oh wait ... wrong film.

  2. blcollier

    "Dear DJI, next time I ask for some GPL source code, maybe don't tell me no."

    Well done that man. However I fear the message will fall on completely deaf ears: rather than comply with their legal obligations, I suspect DJIs reaction will be to tighten their restrictions/lockouts even further.

  3. Crisp

    Drone-zapping gizmo

    What else will it work on?

    I can totally see it being used to mess with people playing on wireless xbox controllers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hmmm

      At least the Xbox controller will only have a few feet to fall and probably to a soft ish carpet, disrupting a drone in flight where they may be more than just a few feet in the air means Gravity may not be your friend.

      I know DJI products *should* either do a controller landing, or return home and land on loss of command signal, but that assume that it really is a DJI device, not a look alike, and the devices firmware being what is expected, not a hooky look a like copy where they only implemented half the features in the rush to get them on sale.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        It depends on what the "signal loss" behaviour actually is.

        Most will cut motors and plummet.

        Many others will "freeze" and continue whatever they were doing - be that hover, accelerate to the left while rolling and thus smash downwards as hard as possible, or accelerate straight up...

        Maybe one in a thousand will attempt a safe powered landing.

        And maybe one in ten of those will succeed.

        1. Haku

          Re: Hmmm

          GPS receiver equipped multirotors will more than likely RTL (Return To Launch point) when the receiver stops getting a signal from your transmitter if it's not following a pre-determined flight plan, if the jammer also disrupts the GPS frequency then it's unpredictable what the multirotor will do - my guess is it may hover on the spot but drift & eventually crash as it can't determine X/Y position, just height from the barometer.

          If the jammer is simply flooding the 2.4ghz frequency used by most radio control systems then it's got to be pretty powerful and directional to do any disrupting as most hobby grade transmitters use frequency hopping to avoid signal problems.

          However, if you've anticipated such an attack on the 2.4ghz frequency then you might have decided to use a completely different method of control, such as the mobile phone network which will allow you to fly your craft a ridiculous distance...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK I can hear the downvotes piling in as I post this but nevertheless…

    Drones seem to be the latest “must have” toy and a lot of people are genuinely worried about the possible damage one can do if in the wrong place at the wrong time. For all their sins, and desire to protect their market, DJL are trying to respond before an outright ban gets put in place. OK some smart arse has found a way to override the source code but as someone who has lived in the flightpath of Heathrow where airliners are in the landing configuration at less than 1000ft (Bath Road Hounslow if anyone wants to check) the thought that some IT literate but otherwise incompetent drone pilot can override the geofencing built in gives me no pleasure whatsoever that someone has overridden some built in code.

    I suspect that the majority of drones will be bought because they are a high profile toy. After they’ve done a few laps of the garden and maybe a beach or mountain in the UK the owners will get bored of them and consign them to a box in the attic or put them on ebay. Anything that deters posers getting them out in the first place is fine with me. I’m sure that those who want to use them for a more productive purpose won’t object to relatively straightforward geographic constraints from the drone manufacturers before government get in on the act with some heavy handed rules and penalties.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      It's like most attempts to make it 'impossible' to use a device dangerously or illegally. By selling it as such, you convince politicians and other people of limited understanding that such a thing is possible. The result is legislation that demands it, adding cost, complexity and failure modes to every device whether its wanted or not.

      I have no problem with an optional device that warns you that you're in a restricted area and shouldn't fly the drone. It's a aid to memory and doesn't pretend to cover all the dangers.

      I do have a problem if it restricts the device from flying near an airport but doesn't restrict it from flying over a crowd, too close to people, near an unexpectedly busy road, where it might scare animals or a thousand other situations that are dangerous.

      The answer to this problem is education and law, not auto-policing.

      FWIW, I don't own a drone and have never flown one. My objection is entirely a point of principle, not merely to someone spoiling my fun.

  5. YARR
    Stop

    How is this lawful?

    The Mark II Dronegun will possibly disrupt drone operations by jamming command, control and communication frequencies

    This must violate legislation in most juristictions. What about laws restricting radio frequency interference? Is the owner of the drone still responsible if someone else is interfering with the control signal? What if the battery expires while they don't have control, or they violate minimum separation rules because they can't take avoiding action? If the drone is damaged or causes damage to other property, is the operator of the Dronegun liable?

    If a Dronegun is lawful, why not an anti-Dronegun device? If it's permissible for anyone to hack the operation of someone's private property, what else is permitted? Can I shoot your pet dog / carrier pigeon with tranquiliser darts? What if it's carrying a camera?

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: How is this lawful?

      According to TFA, Dronegun has been tested in order to sell it to defence and other government agencies. These sort of people tend not to have great difficulty in using devices the general public would get in trouble over. It's likely that a decently useful version of the device won't be for general sale.

      1. handleoclast

        Re: How is this lawful?

        If I were the general public (oh, I am, at least by some definitions) and inclined to jam drones (I probably would be so inclined if the drone annoyed me) then I'd be less worried about the civil penalties for jamming as the possible outcome of pointing a device that looks like a rifle. In some places that can get you shot. Especially if you're black. Or appear to be Muslim (or have a long beard). Or, if on the London Underground, you're Brazilian.

        A great design for appealing to the mass (stupid) market. Evolution in action, perhaps?

        Oh, and if you want all (well, some of) the thrills of a drone without the hassle of remote control, I suggest the random trajectory flying disco eyeball chopper (Big Clive demo & teardown). Mine is on its way from China as I type, at a cost of £3.12.

  6. Haku

    Perceived threats.

    I wish the government would do something more to kerb actual real threats to people's lives rather than waste time/money/resources on the perceived threats of drone incedents derived from statisticians and, more likely, people with agendas simply pulling numbers out of their arses.

    What actual real threats? I don't know specifics, but I think a good start would be to increase police budgets instead of cutting them like that repulsive May thing has been doing.

  7. Jove Bronze badge

    That is DJI off of the shopping list.

    Since the quiz is not backed by legislation is it an offence - e.g. preventing fair use to the purchaser of the product?

  8. Mystic Megabyte
    FAIL

    Bye!

    A neighbour launched his brand-new drone without RTFM. It took off, vanished into the fog and is presumed lost at sea :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bye!

      Hope it wasn't like another recent "presumed lost at sea" incident, also involving DJI

      https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/12/drone-collides-with-us-army-helicopter-puts-1-5-dent-in-rotor/

  9. antonyoier

    Drones need to be regulated

    It has to be said that the drone gun is a good invention. At least we don't need to continue to see drones and quads flying overhead. Maybe drones are fun for users, but for others, oh, at least for me, it's annoying. I had to buy a drone gun to fight the drone that passed through my yard every day.

    The effect was remarkable, at least since I used it, no drone ever flew from my yard, even if it was perfect for flying. From now on I can enjoy a quiet afternoon tea time in my yard.

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