Roundup 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 the seasonal mountains of turkey and lakes of Baileys.
DJI's multiple-guess Knowledge Quiz will be imposed on all UK drone operators. If you don't get all of the eight questions right, fear not: you can "continue answering new questions until [you] successfully pass the DJI Knowledge Quiz", according to a company statement.
The Civil Aviation Authority's Tim Johnson, a policy director, chipped in to say: "We welcome any initiative that reinforces the importance of safe and responsible drone use."
Last year the British government announced that it is Doing Something™ about the perceived threat of drones in the hands of amateurs. This amounts to mandatory registration and safety tests – in effect, licensing. It appears that DJI is hoping its multiple-guess quiz will be incorporated as the testing element of the British licensing scheme, which would put it at even more of a commercial advantage against its rivals.
GPL code, you say?
Meanwhile, security researcher Jon Sawyer has published a root exploit for DJI drones called DUMLRacer. It would appear to allow the technically competent dronie to completely ignore DJI's height and location restrictions, which form a large part of its please-don't-regulate-us-out-of-existence offering to governments around the world.
In his tweet announcing the release, Sawyer said: "Dear DJI, next time I ask for some GPL source code, maybe don't tell me no."
At the heart of DJI's software is GNU General Public Licensed (open source) code. While the firm does publish some of its source code, as previously reported, the company is not exactly clear about what elements of its drones' firmware are based on GPL-licensed code. The GPL contains a provision stating that anyone can modify GPL-licensed code provided that the source of any publicly available modded version is also made public, as the GPL FAQ makes clear. Sawyer suggested on Twitter that DJI had dragged its heels in responding to him:
it runs linux kernel, and uboot, both gpl. I got a solid no, followed by a maybe, then a "Sure if you agree to these terms" then a "soon" then nothing— Jon Sawyer (@jcase) January 1, 2018
We've asked DJI for comment.
Drone-zapping gizmo is safe for humans
Finally, over Christmas and New Year, Aussie drone firm Droneshield told the world that its Dronegun product (no prizes for guessing what that does) has been certified Down Under as being safe for human exposure.
The anti-drone gadget is a rifle-shaped portable jammer. The Mark II Dronegun will possibly disrupt drone operations by jamming command, control and communication frequencies but it certainly won't disrupt humans who get in its way, according to Australian certification house EMC Technologies (no relation to the big tech firm of similar name).
"The certification was obtained in response to the DroneGun product advancing through procurement processes with a number of major defence and other government agencies internationally," said Droneshield in a statement. ®