So, the title of this video, “Florida is Banning DJI Drones,” is partially true. Essentially, they are banning the use of DJI and Autel Robotics drones, along with any Chinese-related drones, for law enforcement and any state agency. Now, why should this matter to you? Well, this is part of the sUAS Blue List that was created last year, and it came into effect technically on January 1st.
Agencies had to do whatever they could to migrate off the use of Chinese-related drones, but as you know, there aren't very many options out there for American-made drones that can even compete with Autel, let alone DJI.
However, Governor DeSantis has recently put his foot down and said that's it; no more. If it's made in China, it can't be used. You can own it if you want to use it privately, but if you're on the job as law enforcement, you can't use DJI or any Chinese-related drone, for that matter.
Banning Chinese-made drones can spread to other states!
The reason why I want to talk about this, and I feel like it's important to discuss, is that this is an epidemic that could spread to other states if we're not careful. It's something that needs attention, awareness, and logical thought.
This is something I should have talked about long ago, but it was something that I didn't want to discuss simply because it revolves around politics, and I had two rules on this channel: no religion and no politics.
But it's inevitable; there's no way to get around this. So that's what we're talking about in this video. Let's get started.
Senate Committee Meeting in Florida
Alright, so to take you back, about a week ago, there was a committee meeting between four senators, two Democratic senators, and two Republican senators. There was also the DMS Secretary, Pedro Allendre, present as well.
The premise of this committee meeting was to give agencies, law enforcement, and first responders around the state the ability to talk about their use and experience using these drones that they've been using for the past four years.
They talked about how they saved lives, how it made their jobs easier. And they also talked about the replacements being inadequate and unsafe, referring to Skydio drones.
Skydio lobby effectively costs people's lives
So, if you're not aware, Skydio has been doing a ton of lobbying here in the State of Florida. Probably more than in any other state because this is the first state that has a clear-cut set of rules to effectively ban the use of Chinese-built drones, and again, that's called the sUAS Blue List.
Skydio saw that there was an open end, an opportunity, and they began pouncing. They started putting their X2s and their Skydio drones in the hands of law enforcement.
But as you know, most law enforcement officers are pretty much the average Joe. They want to be able to use their drone. They want to know that it works. And they want it to do whatever they need it to do in the moment to be able to save a life.
Unfortunately, the Skydio X2 and the Skydio S2 are just not capable of doing so. It's actually less effective than you would think, even though all of Skydio's creative marketing says otherwise.
Real-world use case does not lie, and unfortunately, the X2 falls short of expectations when it comes to First Responders. That's what they were talking about in this meeting.
Florida Senator Pizzo tells it like it is
Secretary DMS Pedro Allende, who is appointed by Governor DeSantis, got a chance to talk and he started touting all these facts. When he was pressured by Senator Pizzo about where he got this information from, he said it came from a vendor.
“President Passidomo's gonna get angry at me. I just want to sort of sift through and bifurcate the political theater versus reality. You're sitting in a committee, and you just held up a piece of paper that the manufacturer just handed you and represented that to this body,” Senator Pizzo said.
“Sure, back and forth. Hmm, Senator, it was simply an example of the vendor community coming to be responsive to the users. This is just one example. Uh, Andoril is another that has offered to buy the inventories to the extent that it makes sense,” said Secretary DMS Pedro Allende.
“That's right. You know, I'm going to take my leave for a couple of minutes because here's what you don't do: you don't come to the Florida State Senate and hand up a piece of paper when the lives of men and women are at risk if we go and use that technology. Do you hear what I'm saying? These are men's and women's lives. I don't want to know there's an old joke from Steve Buscemi in Armageddon. He says, ‘Do you realize, when he's going up in the space shuttle, we're sitting on two million moving parts built by the lowest bidder?' Don't ever do that again. Not while I'm here. When I leave, when I die, when I don't get elected, you can do that all day long. Don't ever do that again. You're pimping for a vendor right now. Shame on you.”
And that vendor was Skydio. This didn't sit well with Senator Pizzo. Now, Senator Pizzo is a Democrat, and I typically don't really agree with most Democratic agendas. I'm a Republican myself, and I'll just throw it out there, and I don't care what flak I get for it.
But I typically don't agree with what most Democratic senators say. However, everything he said, I was pumping my fists in the air, saying, “This guy absolutely gets it!”
When lives are on the line, having the best possible tool to do a job is more important than anything else. He absolutely put everything aside—country of origin, where this product was placed—and he just looked at it for what it actually was.
He called the secretary out on this for basically pimping for a vendor, and that's 100 percent what this guy was doing. He might as well have just walked into this meeting and said, “Hey, Skydio bought me a Ferrari.”
I mean, because that's literally what he was doing in this meeting, and this is something that keeps happening statewide. I've heard it from law enforcement agencies that I've been dealing with, and it's got to stop.
Governor DeSantis drone ban, prohibits use of DJI and Autel drones
It has to stop, but unfortunately, it's a little bit too late because Governor DeSantis announced yesterday that the ban is effective immediately. He wants these agencies to transition off of DJI and Autel drones and migrate over to whatever the Blue UAS-compliant list consists of.
But unfortunately, this is a very short list because, as you know and as well as I know, there aren't very many options out there. There are not very many options out there that can even compete with Autel, better yet, they couldn't even compete with DJI. They just can't.
Blue sUAS don't offer the robust platforms for different use case scenarios that DJI and Autel currently have. For sake of comparison, Parrot drones offer better platforms than Skydio, and that is honestly saying something.
Now, this was obviously the front runner for a solution for these departments to migrate off of, but something that nobody's talking about is the cost to do this. Remember that most state agencies are paid and funded by taxpayers.
They have budgets and quotas, and thresholds that they have to monitor each year. Now, most DJI drones for the enterprise world are anywhere from $6,000 to, we'll say, $10,000 for, like, let's say, a DJI M30, maybe a little bit higher, $14,000. You buy it once, and you're done, and these departments can buy multiple drones to fill a department. You can get six or seven drones for under your budget cap.
With Skydio, specifically the Skydio X2, you never actually own the hardware. It is a lease-only hardware, meaning that you're paying per year for the software and the lease.
Now, this gets very complicated. Not only does it get very complicated, it gets very expensive, and it effectively limits how much a department can purchase each year because they never can actually exceed the number of drones they have because then the cost goes up.
So let's say for the first year, you buy five drones, and then the next year, you want to add in five more drones. Now, you have to multiply that by the payments you're already making. You can see how that can get expensive very quickly.
Most of the departments that I deal with, they buy maybe two to three drones a year. These are smaller counties that don't have a high enough income ratio to support owning multiple UASs.
And then there are some counties that have a Dragonfish, let's say, and they're able to support that because they absolutely need that. But now, they're not going to be able to use these tools that they've relied on for the past two to three years because of politics.
So, this is where I'm going to get a little bit political. What I've seen over the past couple of months, and it's rhetoric that's just increasingly growing, is this hatred towards Chinese products.
We live in America, the freest, best country on planet Earth, right? I firmly believe that, and you firmly believe that if you're watching this video. But something that we do as Americans is to project our beliefs, our wants, and our wishes on other Countries, and it's stupid.
Part of the reasoning behind the hatred towards China is because of how they treat their people, and I get that; I understand that it's terrible. But the way a country operates shouldn't be a reflection on a particular company. A country operating in a certain fashion should not be a reflection of a company.
That's like me saying I don't like Nike because Nike pays kids in the Philippines 25 cents to stitch a shoe on your Jays. I mean, come on, you're all still going to go out there; you're still going to buy Nikes even though some kid in a sweatshop made them, you know what I mean?
Or Amazon treats their employees poorly, but you're still going to order something with two-day Prime. There are too many double standards when it comes to products, and we need to start looking past that and look at what's the best tool for the job.
Now, the claim is that these Chinese drones are unsafe because they are spying on the American people. There is literally no founded evidence from any independent study, even the military studies, that would suggest that is the case.
Do you honestly think a company that puts geofencing on critical infrastructures, airports, or even around Washington DC would do that if they needed that data?
If they needed to collect that information, they would want to make those drones as accessible and easy to get into critical areas as they possibly can. I want you to take your tinfoil hat off for just a second and think logically.
If these companies had so much to gain by spying on us, they wouldn't make it so difficult to put these drones into areas that they shouldn't be. But that's not the case; they've done everything they could to safeguard it, so they aren't put into these areas. DJI has even gone on to make sure that their drones aren't used or weaponized for war.
Now, the Ukraine situation aside, you can't help the Chinese government buying these drones, whether it be Autel or DJI, and sending them to Ukraine. I'm going to tell you right now, at Droneworks, we've had Ukrainians purchase large sums of drones for the war.
So we're just as guilty of supplying drones for them to be weaponized or used in war. We're just as guilty on both sides of the country. What makes it okay for Skydio to advertise that they are making military-safe drones, but it's not okay for Autel or DJI to do the same?
It doesn't make any sense; there are too many double standards in this world when it comes to products and the phobias surrounding them because we have two opposing countries that just can't seem to collectively come together and agree to disagree.
But you, as an American person, are so willing to give your information over to YouTube, Facebook, Google, Instagram; you're so willing to give your data over to these American companies that essentially consumer-weaponize that information against you.
Isn't it ironic how you can go from one website to another and start seeing ads pop up on these websites? That's because they are collecting your data; they are harvesting the data; they are harvesting your interests.
Our own country is more guilty of spying on us than a drone if we're just being completely honest. It is such a political stunt; it absolutely heats me up, and it's shameful that more people who care about the sUAS industry aren't talking about that.
The reason they won't talk about it is that it's a sensitive subject. I'm going to offend one side or the other with the things that I'm saying, but I don't give a damn about my career, the followers; I don't care. I care about the truth, and I care about the right information.
I'm not trying to white-knight for any one company because I know people at Autel, I know people at DJI, I've seen the people, whether it be in America or China, working, and they've always put innovation first.
What Skydio has done to the market is preached and produced legislation versus innovation. I'll just go ahead and throw up a couple of tweets here from the CEO of Skydio, Adam Bry, and I want to say it's Government Affairs or whatever his name is, John. I'll throw some tweets up here.
This rhetoric of creating consumer racism, essentially against certain brands because of spying, which is absolutely unfounded and no data has been provided, is absurd.
We've even just recently seen this with TikTok as well. The people, the lawmakers that you've elected, don't even know what they're creating laws for or what they're talking about.
But I have to say, I will give Senator Pizzo credit because the dude gets it. He understands his stuff, and he just called it out for what it is.
But this is something you have to think about: if you're not in Florida and you start hearing murmurs of your local government starting to create a list like this, you need to push back on it because you're going to lose tools that are valuable to save lives.
At the end of the day, the best tool is the one you already have. The best tool is the one that can do the job as effectively and safely as possible, and unfortunately, here in America, we just don't have anything right now.
Now, if Skydio had something that could do those things and do those things well, this would be a totally different conversation. I wouldn't be up here on my soapbox complaining about this, but this is a huge problem, and it's honestly a massive blow to the law enforcement officers of this state, no matter which side of the aisle you sit on, Democrat or Republican. You have to agree that this is absolutely asinine.
I want you to think about this logically. I know this is hard because this is politics; nobody can see across the aisle, and nobody can agree on things.
But think about it: if a company was out to get us, if they were truly out to get us, they would make it so that these products could be everywhere and do anything, but they can't. They've put safeguards in place because they respect our airspace, they respect our laws, and other countries are using them without incident.
So, what does that tell you? And I'm talking about both Autel and DJI. It's just not their MO. A country doesn't represent a company; that's all I'm saying.
Alright, that's it. I've been on the soapbox; it's hot. This is probably going to be a show in the comments, but hopefully, you can understand my furiosity with this.
I'm upset about this because I have friends who work here in the State of Florida, good people in law enforcement across the state, who just got dealt a heavy blow to what they do every day to save lives, and that's just not cool.
Author: Ken Dono, aka OriginalDobo
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