Chinese drone manufacturer DJI, the world’s largest maker of commercial drones, has issued a software update designed to prevent its products from functioning at all in large portions of Iraq and Syria, with an eye toward preventing ISIS from using them to drop bombs with modified off-the-shelf drones.
Software “geofencing” is common, mostly aiming to prevent drones from flying in very specific areas, like airports, though this is by far the largest effort, and the first directly intended to prevent the drones being used for makeshift military purposes.
The US has made much of its concern about needing to invest in anti-drone weapons specifically because ISIS has shown such an interest in using the drones to drop bombs or suicide attack forces in both Iraq and Syria, sometimes causing casualties.
While this software update gives the drone operator deniability on the use of commercial drones in combat, it’s not at all clear that the software will effectively preclude such operation, or simply require ISIS, or whomever, to jump through some hoops to jailbreak the device.
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