Well, they are trying to ban your DJI drones again, and this time it's a little more concerning. They claim it's in the name of National Security, but I think I have actually figured out why they are pushing even harder this time.
Hi everyone, thank you for stopping by today, and if this is your first time visiting the channel, my name is Russ. It's nice to have you here.
So, we have seen this story many, many times over the past few years, and it's always the same. The words DJI and ban in the same sentence bring a genuine sense of anxiety in the drone world, and for good reason, especially for those of us whose livelihoods depend on their products. Now, much of that in the past has been clickbait, and rightfully so, because it always ends up leading to nothing.
So, why are things different this time? Why does it seem a little more concerning, and why are so many people talking about this latest bill to add DJI to the FCC's covered list? Well, being on this list would effectively prohibit DJI products from using the communications infrastructure that exists in the United States, and if you can't use the network, you can't fly the drones.
Now, on the surface, the reason for this proposed legislation claims that it would prevent the government of China and other nefarious countries from being able to gather sensitive data through the people that are using their products. Now, although this has never been proven or, at least if it has been proven, the facts have never been shared with the public, more and more lawmakers are starting to introduce bills that would effectively prevent the use of DJI drones in America.
Now, I have to say, whenever legislation is introduced in our federal government in the United States, I find it best practice not to just assume that the purpose of that legislation is to actually make our country better or safer. I find it more prudent to ask the question, who benefits financially from this proposed legislation? The changes in this country are not really determined by what's best for us, they're determined by who has the most influence and financial resources. Corporations basically determine the direction of our lives, and it's really sad to say that, but it's pretty true.
Stop Illicit Drones Act
Now, I have to tell you that I think this latest legislation in Congress, as well as the most recent bill proposed in the Senate by Senator Warren and Senator Blackburn called the Stop Illicit Drones Act, have some legs to them. Senator Warner, if you haven't heard of him, he's the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He is one of the most powerful people in Washington, and he's a pretty aggressive supporter of domestic unmanned systems of all kinds, not just drones, but other things like cars, boats, and all sorts of other technology like that. He introduced a bill earlier this year, I think it's called the Increasing Competitiveness of American Drones Act, which would clear the way for basically what we know as drone deliveries.
You know, they're still discussing the idea of drone deliveries. We've been hearing about it for a long time, but Senator Warner, among others, is eager to make it a reality. He's also been very active in improving cybersecurity against hostile foreign governments through unmanned aircraft systems – and he's not just focusing on China; there are a couple of other countries on the list as well.
So, who do you think would be a significant supporter of Senator Warner and those like him? What organizations would benefit from laws preventing the addition of more pesky consumer drones into our airspace? I'm going to throw some names at you: Margaret Nagle, Okeoma Moronu, Ken Stewart, Nita Glicksman, James Grimsley, and Brendan Groves. You might recognize that last one. Brendan is the Vice President of Regulatory and Policy Affairs at Skydio Incorporated, and he has a long history of senior-level positions within our federal government, including at the National Security Agency.
These individuals are the current six officers of the Commercial Drone Alliance. This alliance is a group of companies aiming to integrate drones into our national airspace system for commercial and industrial purposes. These people have significant experience and direct influence in our federal government. These six are the ones who will decide the fate of UAV regulation in this country.
Now, they are ‘America First' people, which is great. I love it. Looking at their resumes, it's clear that these folks want the United States to lead the way in every area, especially when it comes to unmanned aviation. They all understand the impact that the commercial Drone Industry will have on improving our society. UAV integration is key to the progress of many industries; it's going to change our world drastically.
However, there's a problem. How are they going to integrate with all those pesky 1.1 million consumer drones flying around, likely even double that number because not everyone registers their drones? My guess is that maybe half of drone owners actually register them, so let's say there are probably 2 million drones out there.
Network Remote ID
The first step to get rid of these pesky drones was, of course, remote ID, and that's coming soon. All they have to do is ensure that anyone flying a drone is held accountable. Register your drones, and we'll know where you are all the time. They wanted ultimate transparency across the board for all UAV flights. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2023 continues this, and it's basically the Reauthorization Act of 2018, but with even stricter language when it comes to UAVs.
Now, I haven't read the entire document as it's 800 pages long, but I skimmed over some sections related to UAVs. Essentially, it stipulates that no drones from outside of the U.S. can be used for anything government-related. This act now enforces that.
So, we have remote ID, but that doesn't eliminate the nuisance or mitigate the risks associated with consumer drone traffic. Even with all these commercial drones flying around, it doesn't stop you and me from doing the same. So, what's the Commercial Drone Alliance's next move? Well, they could strongly urge our lawmakers to incorporate network-based remote ID. Yes, you might have thought we were going to get away with this broadcast ID, but guess again. Network remote ID is coming – I guarantee it. I'm 100% positive that it's coming; it's just a matter of time.
However, even with that in place, how can we possibly manage all these drones? Even if we reach the point of having Network Remote ID, one way to phase out consumer drones would be to simply ban the two brands that collectively hold 92% of the market in the United States. With a single stroke of the pen, our government could effectively phase out about 1.6 million drones and completely clear the airspace for the commercial drone industry. Granted, it will take a few years for all of the DJI and Autel Robotics drones to reach their end of life, but with the speed at which the FAA has been executing the directives put to them by our lawmakers, the timing seems about right. I'd estimate that we have maybe five years left of being able to fly our DJI or Autel drones if nothing changes.
What could DJI do?
So, what could change? What could happen that would alter this course? I think there are two things DJI could do. First, they could quadruple their lobbying efforts and invest a significant amount of money into influencing the decisions of our lawmakers. As I mentioned, that's how the world works, at least here in America. The issue with that is the immense risk.
DJI is a substantial company, valued at around four billion dollars, but that pales in comparison to the collective power of the Commercial Drone Alliance, which includes companies like Amazon, Zipline, Wing, Honeywell, and many more. Amazon alone is a 520 billion dollar titan. So, lobbying might not be the answer.
What else could DJI do? Well, perhaps, and I might be totally ignorant on this, they could start manufacturing their products in the United States. They could hire American workers, use American materials, and be regulated by American oversight. They could establish a new division, an American division, where everything is done here in the United States. Like I said, I'm not going to pretend that I fully understand this issue, and I don't even know if that could happen, but if it could, that would be fantastic.
However, whatever DJI can do, I hope they do it, because if they lose the American consumer, they will, in my opinion, cease to exist. That would be incredibly sad as they produce the finest products in the world. The technology is unparalleled, and it will be a long time before an American drone company can match what DJI has been doing for years. Whether our politicians believe it or not, our country is better off using DJI drones. The lives they have saved, the money saved, the processes that have advanced because of DJI Drone Technology is undeniable.
Now, are they collecting and sharing data with the Chinese government? It's entirely possible. If it's true, then something should be done to stop it. However, it still has never been proven or published. We, as the American public, have never seen a shred of proof of what is being claimed by our lawmakers. So, we just have to TRUST our government, right? Make people fear something, and you can get them to agree to anything.
No, I honestly don't know what's going to happen with these most recent proposals to ban DJI drones. My overall feeling is that the ones that are currently introduced won't even make it to the floor for a vote. The fear I have is that with more and more of these bills being introduced, it would only take a single catastrophic event or a single security breach to shift the Overton window and cause the American people to instantly support the clearing of the skies of drones.
However, the Commercial Drone Alliance needs to be very careful, as they wouldn't want people to fear the progress of commercial drones. It's quite a conundrum, but for now, I'm going to continue to fly as I always have, and you should as well. Get yourself educated on what's going on, but don't let it stop you from enjoying your hobby.
We can't live in fear, but we can be prepared. If I was able to educate you in any way today, please share this video on all of your social media so we can educate more people and get the word out there. I want to put a link down in the video description for some other videos that kind of talk about this.
Watch this video next because you love to support the channel and help your cause. Have a great day everyone, and as always, fly safe and fly smart.
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