Chinese consumer drone maker DJI has announced a mandatory firmware update for its Spark drone.
According to the company, if the update is not done by September 1, the drones will be deactivated and users will not be able to fly them. The announcement comes after an unspecified number of DJI drones reportedly "fell out of the sky" due to battery management issues and software glitches, according to the Verge.
While the company did not specify how they plan on deactivating the drones, they only mentioned that "Spark will not be able to take off" after September 1 if users fail to update the firmware.
The update will be rolled out in the coming weeks. In a post released by the drone maker, the aim of the update is to "further enhance flight safety and performance of the DJI Spark". "The new firmware update enhances Spark's battery management system to optimize power supply during flight", the company said.
Users will apparently get a notification on the DJI GO 4 app after which they can download the software patch and update their drones. The company has also given users the option of making updates through their proprietary DJI Assistant 2 software for desktop.
Before DJI came up with this fix, they acknowledged the flaw in a blog post. The company said they received reports of drones losing power mid-flight. Having apparently spotted the issue, they are reportedly going with a firmware update and not a fully fledged hardware recall.
Apart from battery and power management issues, the update will bring a few other enhancements to the drone. DJI has also claimed to have packaged in support to integrate DJI Goggles- a VR styled headset for the drone, added the palm launch function which they say will help maintain flight stability, and have enhanced remote controller compatibility.
Over the last few months, DJI has been in the news for security-related concerns. The US army banned their drone's use because of cyber security reasons. In a statement, the Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson said that DJI branded unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are the most widely used off-the-shelf drones and that an increased state of cyber vulnerabilities caused the halt of its usage with the army. It is, however, not clear if this mandatory update from the company has anything to do with the security concerns.
A case involving a DJI Mavic Pro flying close to the Tel Aviv airport was reported where the drone claimed in a statement that flying so close to airports is not possible unless users hack into the software that geofences its drones.
IBT UK has reached out to DJI for comments and is awaiting a response.