Chinese company DJI made a pretty significant change to the process of buying and activating its drones over the weekend. Going forward, DJI drones will be severely limited in functionality until buyers register them with the company.
Failure to register with DJI means the drone will have a height limit of 98 feet (30 meters), a radius of 164 feet (50 meters), and the live video feed will be disabled. “This new step, to take effect at the end of next week, ensures you will use the correct set of geospatial information and flight functions for your aircraft, as determined by your geographical location and user profile,” the company writes. The change applies internationally.
The decision comes days after a US Appeals Court decided that the Federal Aviation Administration no longer has the authority to make people register their consumer drones with the agency. Announced in 2015 and rolled out in 2016, that FAA rule was put in place to author some sort of control over the boom in consumer drones. (Nearly 1 million people have registered for non-commercial flying since then. Pilots flying for commercial purposes still need to obtain a remote pilot certificate from the FAA.)
The Appeals Court decision found the rule to be in violation of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which explicitly states that the agency “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.” The FAA is reportedly considering appealing the decision.
Correction, 10:30PM ET: This article has been updated to correctly identify the FAA as the body that issues remote pilot certificates.