All right, so we're about to sit down with Adam Welsh, who is DJI's head of global policy, to pick his brain about the drone industry, but more importantly, to discuss DJI and where they're headed as a company in the future. Now, I know that a video like this will probably be picked up and circulated to people who don't know who I am.
Just as a brief introduction, my name is Billy Kyle, and I first got into drones back in 2016. About seven years ago. I started where everybody else did in this industry. I bought my first drone, unboxed it, flew it in my neighborhood, took it on vacation, brought it with me on hiking trips. But little did I know that, that drone that I had purchased, which was the DJI Phantom 4, would completely change my life. With my time getting familiar with that drone, my eyes were opened up to an entirely new perspective. As a photographer and videographer, I saw the opportunity to unlock a whole new area of creativity, and to capture images that I otherwise wouldn't be able to without a flying camera.
This has given me the opportunity to travel around the country to different cities and landmarks, and capture them from the air. Sometimes these shots are used in short films. Movies, advertisements, commercials, or I just capture them for fun to share here on my social media. Aside from the photography and videography aspect, drones have such a big impact on law enforcement and other commercial applications, and this is something that as of recent has really piqued my interest.
Like something that really opened my eyes was the use of drones in search and rescue. I recently helped a local police department try and find a missing girl, and with the help of DJI's Matrice30, I was able to provide an aerial view and clear out large sections of woods efficiently with the thermal camera.
Like this clip right here speaks volumes. You can see the three individuals on the ground assisting with the search, and as I fly over them to reveal this peninsula along the water, there are no heat signatures that would indicate the missing girl was amongst these trees, thus saving those on the ground valuable time.
Now, my little example pales in comparison to what my friend Kyle Nordfors is doing with Weber County Search and Rescue. His team uses drones routinely to track down missing individuals, and they've recorded over 30 human lives saved as a result of using the drone, which is evident enough that this technology needs to be available for people like him.
Through the treacherous conditions with feet of snow and steep mountains, the swift deployment of a drone can shave hours off of a boots on the ground search. Now there are a lot of different drones out there that are built to complete different tasks, so depending on your needs, you're going to be looking at different drones that are out there available on the market.
And I think that it's easy, without doing much research, to glance over what makes DJI's drones some of the best offerings available for you, regardless of the scenario. For myself and someone like Kyle, trusting that your gear is going to get the job done is super important. And with DJI's superior camera, transmission, and flight technology, I know that I'm gonna get great photos and videos to share, and Kyle knows that he's got the absolute best chance at finding that missing person.
Recently, DJI as a company has come under some scrutiny and fire because of their country of origin being China. And look, I hate getting political here on my YouTube channel. I don't think I've ever really discussed this topic before in a previous video because it's all about learning and fun here on my YouTube channel.
Like to me, it's all about using your drone regardless of the brand and taking the best photos and videos that you can. But with recent legislation being passed in certain states, the use of DJI's drones is becoming limited. Personally, this worries me because DJI flat-out makes the best tools for the job.
Outside of the internet here, where I live on my YouTube channel, I'm a drone service provider. So I work with construction companies, real estate agents, land developers, property management companies, engineering companies, all of the above to provide aerial photos and videos for the projects that they're working on from a documentation perspective, from a marketing perspective, whatever, it doesn't matter, right? My service is to provide aerial photos and videos, and for that service, I like to use the best tool possible, which in my opinion is the DJi Mavic 3 Pro. So any drone that I use that falls under that in terms of quality is going to mean that I'm delivering an inferior product to my clients.
Now, Let's forget what I'm doing, right? Let's take a step back and look at what Kyle is doing, right? He is saving lives on a weekly, or monthly basis using his drone, and if he had to use an inferior product, he might not save as many lives because he has to use something that just flat out isn't as good.
And trust me, I have tried some other alternatives out there, and they become such a headache to use with inferior remote controllers, difficult to use camera systems, and transmission systems that barely let you fly a few thousand feet away. For this reason, I am really excited to sit down with Adam because he works for DJI.
He understands all the inner workings, right? He is the person who is dealing with this issue each and every single day. And he also understands what the DJI brand values are behind the products that they offer to their customers. And he is the perfect person to talk to when it comes to this situation and scenario that we're finding ourselves in with DJI drone usage becoming somewhat limited here in the United States. Now, before we get into the interview, if you want to have your voice heard, I'm going to leave a link down below to the Drone Advocacy Alliance for anyone to sign up and make sure that our voices are heard so we can continue to have the freedom to fly the drones that we want. Okay, so enough from me.
God, I love to talk. Now let's jump into the interview with Adam Welsh. All right, Adam, thank you so much for jumping on here.
Interview with Adam Welsh from DJI
Billy Kyle: Adam, thank you so much for jumping on here.
Adam Welsh: Thanks Billy. I appreciate the time.
Billy Kyle: Yeah, of course. So where are you based at? I know that we're in different time
Adam Welsh: zones here. Yeah, so very different time zones. So I'm based in Canberra, Australia, which is basically the federal capital of Australia.
Adam Welsh: So I guess like the Washington, DC of the United Sates.
Billy Kyle: Okay. And now, how long have you been working at DJI for, how long have you been at the company?
Adam Welsh: It's been about six years now and it's really, I've seen my job morph a great deal. Like when I first joined, really the debate was about whether drones are safe to use in the national airspace. And what about all these new airspace users that are coming into the market? And now obviously the debate shifted to much more, more intrinsic things around China and U. S., etc.
Billy Kyle: Yeah, so of course everything turns political. What's your history with drones? Like why did you choose to work at DJI? Where did you work before that? What really got you interested in the drone space?
Adam Welsh: So I've worked for technology companies for quite a while. So I've worked for a U.S. startup in software. And I'd seen how people were using drones particularly around the utility space. And it was just exciting to see how this technology was taking off, right? And it was so often, it was people I was talking to were taking something that was really just more of a hobby, and then bring it into the workplace and just finding great new use cases. And so I became more and more intrigued with it, started playing around with the technology myself, and really felt that DJI was somewhere that I wanted to work.
Adam Welsh: Yeah, that's awesome. It's funny. I go to these trade shows and I see new ways that drones are being used and it's like an aha moment because you think that you've reached this plateau like drones delivering kidneys, drones delivering blood, drones delivering pizza, and then you see all these other cool use cases. So it's just really interesting. So now I want to go through a quick-fire, a set of questions here, things to help the audience familiarize yourself and maybe make that connection to you. Working at DJI, what's your favorite drone? What is the, what is like the drone that sticks out in your mind that you guys have released? It doesn't need to be the latest and greatest, but I guess what's one that sticks out to you?
Adam Welsh: So on, on the consumer side, I'm not, I can't pick one, it's like picking like your favorite kid or something, but but in terms of on the consumer side, I think the drone that blew me away the most when I first saw like a mini and got to play with a prototype, got to fly it, see how capable it was. And the reason it intrigued me so much is it's just a great way to get new people into into using this technology, right? Sub 250 grams, it becomes intrinsically so much safer it's so much less inhibiting in terms of noise level and everything else. And so I think for a lot of people it's just a great entry point in terms of getting into flying drones.
Adam Welsh: And it helps us expand to more people. So I was really excited about that, and I was really impressed. Also, from a regulatory perspective. We had always been arguing that 250 grams is far too conservative in terms of a safe category. We'd always said one to two kilos is still safe and we did drop testing and everything else. And so we were arguing against 250 grams as a category, but obviously our technology team saw it as throwing down the gauntlet from the regulator and they just went to town on it. And if you look at how that product category has grown from, like the original Mini to now the ~DJI Mini 4 Pro -(https://dronexl.co/drone-companies/dji/dji-mini-4/)~. We've got people using this actually for commercial applications as well. People have adopted it and used it way beyond what we originally intended.
Billy Kyle: Yeah when the DJI Mavic Mini originally came out… I wrote it off when I saw the leaks. I was like, okay, it's just going to be a fun little toy drone. But when I first flew it, I remember that was my, I did a first flight video and I was actually blown away by what you could do with that little drone.
Adam Welsh: Yeah. And I'm going to go to the other end of the spectrum for products that like I'm in love with. Like I'm going to say the DJI M300, I got to take that out with some police when it was an early prototype phase. And those guys were just blown away by it. Literally, it was still a prototype and they were scratching their heads about how to find budget to buy some because it was so capable. Quieter, being able to be further off the target, all sorts of things that the police need. And then, I think on the really heavy end of the spectrum, I'm a big fan of our Agris products.
Adam Welsh: And what is not currently available in all markets, but will be soon the Flycart, which is an adaptation. Which is going to be basically a heavy-lift drone that you can use in specific use cases. Really quite excited about that as well.
Billy Kyle: Yeah, I remember seeing that release and I didn't expect a drone like that from you guys. I guess it makes sense. You took that platform you already had and just morphed it into something else that it could do. But that's interesting. And I think that's the one thing that people that might not. Now, I don't know if you guys, who might not be in the drone industry, are thinking that drones are going to do is like some sort of delivery. Everybody's mind when they think of drones shifts to delivery. It's nice to see that you guys are thinking about that future as well, amongst all your other products. That's definitely cool to see. Now, how about non-drone products? You guys are in a lot of different spaces with the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 with the DJI Osmo Action 4 with the Ronin 4D. You guys are all over the place and the mics too, right? The DJI mic is something I use every day. So what's like your favorite non-drone product?
Adam Welsh: First I'd like to talk about the DJI Flycart. I'm still, I still think we're a little ways away from seeing delivery drones become ubiquitous, right? I think we all have to recognize the regulatory schema, going take some time to get there. And this drone is really more about heavy lift in certain conditions. So you could imagine using it, one use was was actually to take things up to a high mountaintop resort. Another one was to take small tree saplings up a mountainside. So it becomes almost like a conveyor belt, but drone-based. And it also illustrates how DJI R& D teams work is actually there was a need by firefighters to have something that would bring equipment to the fire front.
Adam Welsh: And so the DJI guys, they just started ripping apart the Agris frame, put a parachute on it, started reworking the whole thing. And came up with a prototype which they've now perfected and are working to make even better. And so it's just how people at DJI think, right? You give them a problem, regulators say that 250 grams is the ultimate safe category. Okay, we're gonna have a 249 gram drone. Firefighters need to get equipment to the front okay, we can figure that one out too. It's really what makes DJI such a great company to work at.
Billy Kyle: That's awesome. Real quick you mentioned parachutes. I've got to give a shout out to my guys at AVSS They are based out of Ottawa. They make these drone parachutes and now they recently have this guided parachute system I'm not sure if you've seen it But from a drone they can drop a payload and then a parachute deploys on that payload and using software they can Autonomously guide it to a specific GPS coordinate. So it's very impressive and on these, on the topic of drone use cases, they're going to be using it to drop, I want to say bombs. I don't know what the technical term is, but they're going to be dropping bombs to detonate or to trigger avalanches. So apparently they used to use like these Howitzers, from the World War II era. So again, like it comes back to these different use cases for drones and it all is just very impressive. And I like how all of your answers have come back to be about regulatory stuff.
Adam Welsh: Yeah, I can't help it, right? Like it it's my job. So I tend to think through that PRISM. But you asked about what other products that we've got coming out that that I'm a big fan of. Actually for this interview…
Billy Kyle: No, I look at the Ronin 4D and I can't help but think about how ahead of its time it is, right? Like the fourth axis of stabilization. I see people sitting in the back of Baja trucks and they're getting thrown around, but then you look at the video and it looks like it's just on a tripod or something.
Adam Welsh: Yeah, I was lucky enough to go to the National Association of Broadcasters big event in Vegas earlier this year, and it was just awesome, they had cinematographers there, people who worked on the new Top Gun movie, all these other things, and they were just telling you about how much they loved one, the new DJI Inspire 3 and the quality of the camera on the Inspire 3, but then the Ronin products and just the stabilization on them, and really the quality of the cameras. It is just phenomenal. If you really think about where DJI has great expertise and how we're parlaying it through different sectors, we've got a great stable flying platform, we've got great camera stabilization capabilities, and we've got great camera capabilities as well. People are comparing the cameras to, high-end cameras that are used in movie making and it was like for right?
Adam Welsh: Really really solid there. And I also, I'm actually a big fan of the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 since I got sent one to do this interview. And so I haven't had a chance to play with it as much as I'd like. But yeah, it's a great little product, right? Like, it really is amazingly capable for the size and for the cost. And, I'm a big fan of the category as a whole just because I remember I was talking to our product team. And one of the product team guys said, Really, we start out with a gimbal to stabilize the camera for drones, right? And so we used to test it by running up and down the corridor, holding the gimbal in our hand, and shaking it, right?
Adam Welsh: Before they would attach it to the drone and do another test. And then they looked at their hand and they're like, Hey, hang on a second here. Here's an obvious product for us, right? And so with working on camera stabilization and that sort of thing has enabled us to really like a leap ahead in various other product categories. So it's, yeah, it's a lot of fun.
Billy Kyle: You take the technology that you already have and try to find other use cases for it. And, whenever I look at a lot of the products you guys have come out with, you're like the first to market. And then you almost make things, I would say mainstream, right? Like the Osmo pocket, who thought of making a tiny little stabilized camera like that? Like the pocket was the first one. And then you see a lot of these, knockoffs come out and different. Different companies trying to make their own version of it obviously there was not a huge reinvention of the wheel with the Action Series camera, it's just another action camera, but the DJI Action 2 being modular was awesome so you have these great ideas, and it's cool to see a company like thinking outside the box like that but yeah, it's, it is tough to figure out what your favorite drone is, because I use like four of them on the daily, it's between the Avada, the Inspire, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, and the DJI Air 3, and even the Mini 4 Pro gets tossed in the mix there, and it's you can use any of these drones and get great results Moving on from there, you live in Australia. Australia is a place that I've never visited, but I see so many drone photos and drone videos from Australia that makes me just want to visit so badly. So do you get a chance to get out and fly often? Do you fly around your home? Do you fly any areas in Australia? Cause that's like a bucket list spot for me.
Adam Welsh: So you're right. For one thing, like the adoption of drone technology in Australia is above the population weight, right? Awesome. Australians just tend to get into gadgets. We're a high-wage country. And so anytime you can use gadgets to bring down to increase productivity and get efficiency gains people jump on it. But also you got a lot of wide open areas. You point out that there's some great footage from the red center deserts of Australia through to the coastlines and everything else. For me, I'm really lucky. I literally have mountain bike trails that are like two minutes from my house.
Adam Welsh: If I didn't have a bedroom wall right here, I could turn the camera and you would see the trails. It's like that close. And it's like densely wooded. It's got a quarry, which for some reason I'm fascinated by. It's like just a rock quarry, but it's great to see excavation taking place and stuff like that. Little goat farm off on the side. Wombats, kangaroos, all this wildlife, it's just a very cool kind of place to take out a drone and, use obstacle avoidance, do all the other stuff, give things a real test in like a pretty, pretty tough environment and get some interesting footage.
Adam Welsh: I also have three small kids and so like they love to go out. I also have bad navigation skills. One of the great ways to use a drone is to pop it up and see where the hell I am, vis a vis houses nearby, and so I can find my way out of the reserve because it's quite big. But yeah, that's one of my favorites, but New South Wales coastline is also awesome and just like very easily accessible from here, and yeah, we're spoiled, I think. Australia has a lot of good stuff.
Billy Kyle: Yeah look, I would be lying if I've said I've been stuck in traffic a couple of times and I've put my drone up to fly down to see what the hell's wrong. I'll be in the passenger seat with someone driving and I'll be like, I'm going to see what's going on myself.
00:16:35 – Billy Kyle: So I discussed a little bit about these third party drone applications, right? Like I mentioned ABSS and their parachutes. People build off of your platforms a lot, like DJI drones are used in a lot of different scenarios. When I go to these trade shows you see a lot of software being built for DJI drones, different hardware applications. What is maybe your favorite or maybe one of the quirkiest hardware or third party solutions that you've seen made for DJI drones?
Adam Welsh: Obviously this has been overused, but the one that really sticks in everybody's mind is the SnotBot, right? Where they took a DJI drone, and they used it to capture snot from a whale to test for health markers, right? SnotBot was a great one that's been out there for quite a while. But, I also, I was looking, this isn't a DJI solution, but I was actually watching a video recently of a drone that's basically built to open and close valves in areas where it might be too dangerous to send somebody in. It literally latches onto the valve and then spins, right? And that's a cool, very niche, but very cool when you watch it happen. And then being in Australia people have used drones a lot for spotting dangerous wildlife. We obsess about our abundance of crocodiles, sharks, and other dangerous aquatic life.
Adam Welsh: And University of Technology Sydney and NSW Surf Life Saving and among others have worked on technology to use DJI drones plus object recognition. For shark spotting, and for crocodile spotting up in the North end the the top end of the country with Northern territory really it's very quintessentially Australian. Like I said, we obsess about dangerous animals, but it's a lot of fun and it's useful.
Billy Kyle: Yeah. I've actually seen when they're trying to track whales from drones, they'll drop trackers on the whales as they come up and then it'll stick into their back so that they can track these whales, which again, it's like all of these different things I find fascinating. And there's a popular TikTok that I see. It's honestly, it's just been circulated all over Instagram and people. Replicate and whatnot where they put a light bulb on top of a mini and they fly it up to the socket and they spin it around really fast so they can spin the light bulb band. It's just like a joke, which I thought was funny. So when I look at your guys' drones like from the Mini to, the Mavic to the Inspire, it always seems like you're pushing the boundaries in a lot of areas. And I look at the pillars of a drone in terms of the transmission system.
Billy Kyle: In terms of the camera, in terms of the flight characteristics, specs, right? These are things that I try to hit on in my review, and when I'm comparing these different drones the one thing that always blows my mind is your transmission system. I don't understand how you guys can make it better every single time. From LightBridge to when OcuSync first came out to now we're on like OcuSync O4, right? So it just keeps getting better and better to the point now where you can actually fly. The total distance of your battery and still have connection. So now, like the transmission system has outran the battery. So to me, like that's my favorite innovation in your drones. But I guess from your standpoint, and you seeing maybe some more things behind the scenes, what do you think is like the standout innovation in your drones that, separate them from the competition?
Adam Welsh: So I think you all, you have to start out with just how DJI has been like a company of firsts all around, if you think back to its foundations at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology out of Frank's dorm room, like literally they were doing flight controllers for hobbyist drones, right? And that's what the industry was about, like it was about people kit-building drones and then we would do the flight controller systems for that.
Adam Welsh: But we were the first to put out like a complete drone, right? With the DJI Phantom. And then we were the first to create a foldable drone. We were the first to put object recognition on a drone. We were the first to do a drone under 250 grams, right? Like a lot of firsts. And so in terms of what's, what is the magic sauce?
Adam Welsh: I think a couple of things, right? So first off… Like the ethos at DJI is all about innovation, like research and development. They are the heart and soul of the entire company. I can't emphasize that enough. 25 percent of our workforce are R&D focused. So if you think about the fact that we own our own factories, that really is a significant part of our non-factory workforce.
Adam Welsh: Our focus is belting out brand new product. And they compete with each other and they compete with themselves, right? They're constantly seeing how they can. Push the technology forward, build a better product that's going to basically get you to trade to the next model. And I think from that foundation of like flight controller system, all our products, if you can fly one, you can fly them all.
Adam Welsh: You know what I mean? There's a familiarity to how all of them operate. If you think about like flight stability. And the flight frame itself. I think we perfected that. Then there's image stabilization and quality of camera. I think we've really pushed the ball forward on that one.
Adam Welsh: And if you think about those three key categories, that's what you want from a drone. You want it to be easy to fly. You want to be able to pick up the controls on a new one, and fly it just like you did the old one, right? You don't want a tight learning curve. You want it to be reliable. You want it to be stable, and you want to capture crisp, sharp images, even under really tricky light conditions, right?
Adam Welsh: If you think about just, not just a videographer, but somebody trying to save lives, they want great image quality. They want to be able to pick things out with crystal clarity. And that's really what we work towards.
Billy Kyle: I agree, I will go and I'll fly the Inspire 3, and then I'll fly the Mini 4 Pro, and I feel like if you if you handed me a blank controller and you said which drone is which, I mean there would be some telltale signs between those two drones, right? But if you gave me a DJI Air 3 or a DJI Mavic 3 Pro, which are very different drones at very different price points, it's almost hard to tell which one flies better.
Billy Kyle: Like sometimes when I'm flying the Mavic 3, I wish I was flying my Air 3 because it's just so powerful. So it is really interesting to see that competition between the different drones that are available out there. I think it makes it fun, but what do you think about there being, a lack of competition outside of DJI, right?
Billy Kyle: You go to the consumer electronics show, and there's nothing. You go to these drone trade shows and there's nothing. It seems like all of these manufacturers have turned their back on the consumer to the point now where it's like. It's DJI vs DJI, and it's funny, I wanted to make a video called DJI vs DJI, but I figured we'll just lump it here into this interview, and maybe you can make the video for me.
Billy Kyle: What do you I guess the question I'm trying to hit on here is what do you think about there being, like, a lack of competition and, I hope, do you guys still want to be in the consumer space? Do you guys still… Want to compete with yourself like that?
Adam Welsh: Oh, of course. Like there's no way we're walking away from the consumer space. That's our foundation, right? We built our company around the consumer space. And then we were, then we just moved upwards into the enterprise space using the same things of easy fly-ability and great image quality, right? That the consumer wanted. We actually found, guess what, the business user wants exactly the same things.
Adam Welsh: And no way are we walking away from the consumer side of the business. I, like you, as an enthusiast, I feel sad there's not more variety and competition in the marketplace. Having said that, you made the point, DJI really likes to cannibalize itself, right? We are not, like no product is sacrosanct with us.
Adam Welsh: We're not going to sit there and say, hey, we can just idle it with the Mavic 3 Pro and just milk money. That's, we're not that way inclined. We're, we've built better products at lower cost throughout our life cycle, right? Look at what we did with the Mini. I, there's no, not going to be any change there.
Adam Welsh: We're going to continue to do that. And our product teams are going to continue to, move forward and cannibalize our older products as they try to get things better and better. And I think that's part of the winning recipe inside DJI is how competitive we are with ourselves. But to your point, like competition's good and like we, we actually like competition.
Adam Welsh: We like it when we have other manufacturers out there that we can benchmark ourselves against.
Billy Kyle: That's awesome. I think that there's no doubt that the commercial space is where the biggest Innovation needs to happen because this is where drones are being used for good to save lives and things like that And that technology eventually trickles down to us and the consumers in a way that we'd like to use it And yeah, I don't I almost don't want to tell you this But I feel like I could use the Mavic 3 Pro for the next 10 years and be totally fine and never want anything better but I know that like a Mavic 4 will come out and there will Some sort of feature in there that I never even thought of.
Billy Kyle: So it is good to hear that you guys want to stay in the consumer space because there's so many of us. I think there's so many more that just want to join. Anytime that I'm out flying my drone, everybody's damn. I want one of those, so it's nice to hear that you guys are continuing to compete with yourself because if there's no other competition out there at least you've got, your own crazy engineers that want to compete against each other, which is awesome.
Billy Kyle: This is maybe spinning into the regulation space here, which will be right up your alley. The DJI Dock 2 was just released at the time of sitting down and recording this. I personally haven't done a ton of reading on it. I know that I think right now it's only exclusively available in the Asia market, and it's not available over here in the the United States or the America market.
Billy Kyle: But what do you think of the dock in general, right? Not only from like a hardware standpoint and like what it looks like and how it functions, but what do you think about it from a regulation standpoint?
Adam Welsh: From where the technology needs to get to this is exactly what needs to be done, right? There's so much more that can be done with drones if you think about beyond visual line of sight operations. And moving to, one operator, maybe supervising a number of different docks, and then going just to full autonomy eventually. This is where the industry needs to go to, to enable drones to really add amazing benefits.
Adam Welsh: Think about any site where you could control ground risk by having a fenced off location, right? Think about a solar farm, right? You don't need to send somebody out in a pickup truck with a drone to fly over that zone. You could have a, a couple of DJI Docks just on site, fly very low over all those solar panels on a regular basis and pick out which ones are not operating properly or what, where there's breakage or anything else.
Adam Welsh: So you can then send out crews to fix them when then, when necessary. Similarly on mine sites, you get people that do these amazing tasks of volumetric scans. But they're flying the same mission over and over again, right? To compare the volumetric scan of previous ones to see how much volume has been taken out of the mine.
Adam Welsh: Pre-position some drones. Have it done automatically. That's 100 percent where it needs to be. Now, your question hits the nail on the head, which is the regulations just don't allow that under standard rules, currently. You do have to go through a process, whether it's in some markets, you're going to go through a SORA process, or, a risk assessment process.
Adam Welsh: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has something very similar, where you have to go through and work with the FAA on putting your case forward for how you mitigate air and ground risk. And that doesn't really allow wide scale adoption, right? And I think FAA is definitely going to move forward with this, and I know other aviation authorities are working hard on it, but it's going to take some hard grind from the regulators.
Adam Welsh: Obviously, safety is paramount, right? And the drone industry has a great safety record. And we do not want to see that ever get besmirched in any way, shape or form. But if you look at the use of drones, this is a safe technology. And it's being used safe. Yeah. And so we want to keep that, but we also want to enable broader use cases like this.
Adam Welsh: And so like the Dock and the Dock 2, these really fit within that bracket. We've got a lot of very enterprising customers who want to take this out and are willing to do the work with the FAA to get the approvals they need. And so we've, we're seeing stuff that's, it's really impressive from a lot of different customers.
Billy Kyle: Yeah, that's awesome. I'm a drone service provider. I work with construction companies and real estate agents around the area, providing my services from aerial photography to just regular photography, right? I do a lot of other video work and I see a little bit of a fear among some drone pilots worrying that their job is going to be taken by autonomy, right?
Billy Kyle: We're in such a new field that it's so funny that Drone Service Providers are already worried about autonomy taking their jobs, whereas truck drivers have been around for decades and now they're looking at their jobs potentially on the chopping block with, autonomous driving and autonomous trucks and things of that nature.
Billy Kyle: But personally, I can say from my standpoint as a drone service provider, I'm not worried about it. I just think that this type of autonomy will take away the jobs that are boring anyway. I don't want to have to go and watch my drone fly an automated mission over a mine. Do you know what I mean?
Billy Kyle: I work with some land development companies and they have stockpiles of material that I'll go and measure on, say, a weekly basis. And I just want to be able to push a button and let the drone do its thing and not have to drive there and let the drone fly. I see a lot of really great opportunity with the DJI Dock 2. And my whole thing to the drone service providers out there is don't worry. I don't think it's going to be a job taking technology, but I think it's actually just going to accelerate the use of drones.
Adam Welsh: I agree with your point, but I also understand the stress that some people might feel, right? What we've witnessed is just about any company that has started to use drones and they start to get the data sets, the company wants more data and more data, right? So I suspect what's going to happen is not that that you'll be doing people out of a job, but just they'll be, they'll come up with new jobs. They want you to fly and there'll be more intricate ones that just cannot be automated for various reasons. Cause you got to think this really is going to be like a crawl, walk, run type situation where. The first permissions are going to be very basic, you're going to have no people around, very locked in kind of safety parameters to get permissions.
Adam Welsh: And it's going to take a while before you're able to use this anywhere. And, I think really it's going to create a lot of additional demand for data. We've seen mining companies that do volumetric scans and all of a sudden the safety team want to see the footage. Because they want to see where there might be a safety issue. Everybody wants to see this data and they come up with new data they want. They want, okay, don't just do a volumetric scan. Fly all the roads around the mine site so we can see what's crumbling or what else is happening along the mine site. People are hungry for data. And so I believe there will still be plenty of work to go around if not more.
Billy Kyle: I agree. And I envision a future where these construction sites have a drone in the air 24 seven, cause there's just something else that the drone has to do. Like they can't get enough drones to try to complete different tasks. So it's going to be interesting. But you bring up data and that'll shift our conversation here into something really the real reason I wanted to have you on here. DJI and their data policies and the way that you guys operate. This is a topic that has been very prevalent in the News. It's been prevalent amongst the drone community. It's something that I personally haven't discussed because I'm really just not educated on it. Educated on it, like My whole thing is I love to fly drones, I love to take awesome pictures, I love to take awesome videos, and I stay in my lane, right?
Billy Kyle: I don't want to go and start talking about stuff that I don't know anything about. It's great that I have you on here to discuss this because you're the person to talk to, right? You're the person that's going to be able to give us all the information that we need. When we're talking about data, right? Just to make it as blunt as possible. People in the United States are worried that data is being sent through DJI drones back to China and is being used in some way, right? That's the big fear that's going on. But let's be real, like how much data is there potentially to collect from a DJI drone? I know that when I sign up for a DJI account, all my friends also mock me because I say DGI instead of DJI, but that's when I talk really fast. I sign up for an account, I give my email, I give my first and last name, my gender, right? These are all things that I would give to any account that I sign up for whether it be Facebook, whether it be Google, whether it be Instagram, it doesn't matter, right? How much data is there actually to collect from a drone that could even potentially be malicious?
Adam Welsh: It's a great question. And by the way my job has changed from being like 95 percent dealing with like aviation safety. To being like 95 percent about cyber security, data security and… I much preferred the rational discussions which are around like, data, numbers, like safety because… Yeah. You can have a real conversation. Where it's really unfortunately the conversation around DJI has become really muddied by false accusations.
Adam Welsh: So let's talk to your point about what data we would have. You activate a drone. We don't actually verify your email address. You can put in blah blah blah at gmail. com, and we're not gonna, we're not gonna verify it. Really you can put that information in, but that's one thing. That's your activation piece. On setup, you're asked, do you want to share, if it's a consumer product, you're given the option to share your videos on a… Social media platform called Skypixel. Now, the word social media platform should trigger people to think, guess what, it's gonna go on a public platform, right?
Adam Welsh: If you don't want to share your stuff publicly, don't put it there, that's fine, that's great. For commercial users, they don't even have the option to use Skypixel, right? It's just for consumers, it's just a fun way to share videos. But you don't have to opt in, either as a consumer or as a commercial user, you don't even have the option to opt in. And if you don't opt in as a consumer, we don't have it. And as an enterprise user, we don't have it either.
Adam Welsh: The other thing you're asked if you would like to opt in is to improve our products by sharing flight log data. Again, you do not have to opt in to this. If you do, flight log data really tells us how the product operates through the entire flight. If you think about how we would use it, we can see how things are operating properly. Do we need to do a firmware fix of any kind to improve the product? What additional… Improvements we should we do in the next iteration of the product. So it's valuable to us, but we don't take it automatically. You have to opt in to share it with us.
Billy Kyle: I think it's valuable to the consumer too, because if you crash your drone, you have all the logs and if it's a potential drone malfunction, then you would get a replacement, which is nice.
Adam Welsh: That's a hundred percent, right? So it also helps with warranties and claims and other things. So it's valuable from that perspective. If you're a government user or you feel like that information is not something you wanna share, you just don't opt in. And it's not shared with us. All of that data is hosted on servers in the US as well. And if you're operating outside China your data's on US based servers.
Adam Welsh: So really people should feel pretty confident about that. We've also instituted a number of things to try and make sure that our government users in particular but any user that just wants to make sure that data is secure, can fly their product in the securest mode possible. So we have what we call local data mode.
Adam Welsh: That's on consumer products and on our enterprise products, and that means the drone does not connect to the internet. So it's, it, you're flying your drone the same way somebody uses an air gapped computer, right? It doesn't connect to the internet, so how is data going to be… illicitly transferred. It's not. You're just gonna fly your mission, take out your SD card and upload it to your computer. Right? So there's a lot of ways you can fly a DJI drone in in an intrinsically safe and data secure fashion. In addition, we've gone through more audits than any other company, right?
Adam Welsh: Partly through necessity. Some of those audits were done by the U. S. government. otHer audits we paid for, right? We went to U. S. based companies. There are specialists in this area, and we said, buy our product off the shelf. We don't need to know what product it is. Tear it apart. Do your worst. And none of them have found any smoking gun, right? This is the thing. Our critics come forward and say, Oh, we need to protect ourselves from drones made in China. But they never have a smoking gun or any evidence of data transfer or any other illicit behavior.
Billy Kyle: I feel like it just comes down to country of origin at that point, right? And I think a lot of the people watching this interview will understand like drone technology and how it works But then there's a lot of other people out there that maybe aren't in the drone space that just look at you guys as like Another Chinese company just trying to collect as much data as possible when you guys have been around forever Really? I mean since 2013 you guys have been making drones, which is you know A long time ago in terms of the technology space, so it is cool to see how far you guys have come and stuff like that. And also, let's talk about the devices we use all the time. My iPhone, the device that anybody is watching this on, collects so much data on us.
Billy Kyle: It doesn't matter where it's going, it's being harvested somewhere, it's being sent somewhere. The way that I look at it is if I have… Some sort of some sort of privacy infiltration. I want at least a little bit of fun in return for it, right? So Instagram, I give them all my information, but hey, I get to watch stupid videos because I gave them my information. It's oh, DJI, I gave you guys my first name, my last name, my email, and now I get to fly really awesome drones, right? It's you have these small trade offs, but then also, like you mentioned, with low data mode. There's not this data that's being sent from the drones, and I can say that on my end, flying my Mavic 3 Pro, I fly with my RC Pro. I fly every single day. I never connect that thing to the internet. I can't tell you the last time that I did an update on it and it just keeps flying. Like I don't need to connect to the internet to fly my drone. So I don't even think that you guys haven't collected a flight log off of me because I haven't connected to the internet.
Adam Welsh: And so if you fly an enterprise drone, you can do offline firmware updates as well. Like you can do everything offline. So like literally that product never has to connect to the internet. You can download maps offline, you can download, um, like I said, you can download all of your your data offline. The whole thing just basically means that you never need to connect to the internet. And it's just a very easy way to ensure the ultimate level of data security, right? This really should be like the nail in the coffin of our detractors. Like we should be able to just like, like point that out to them point out that it's been tested and proven. And that should be the end of the conversation. But unfortunately we live in a world where you just mentioned the word China and you've more than half won the argument. And so we've still got our work cut out for us to try and respond to some of the allegations.
Billy Kyle: Yeah, now this is something interesting that I don't, it's not talked about a lot. Maybe you can shed some light on it. Would you guys ever think about like bringing manufacturing of certain drones over to the United States and like maybe have a specific product line that's developed especially for the United States that's made here? Is that something that's ever crossed your mind or something that's maybe ever been talked about internally with you guys?
Adam Welsh: Oh, it's a great question. We've, we, it's more than crossed our mind. We've made several investigations into doing this. One was a number of years ago, actually. We were ready to start manufacturing facilities in California. And honestly even more recently, like within the past year or so we've done investigations, but really the benefits don't seem to accrue to us. Even if we manufactured most of the attempts to ban Chinese drones focus on Chinese parts and Chinese software. So you'd really have to source all US parts, do the software from scratch. And what we found when we looked at that is that just jacks up the price to just really untenable levels. This is one of the things I think our competitors have done to themselves, is that… They've locked themselves into these, this process of saying, Oh, only China, only U.S. parts are okay. All software must be written in the U. S. Instead of looking at objective standards, right? Looking at objective standards around data security that we could all adhere to.
Adam Welsh: And by doing that, they've locked themselves into to, to a more expensive set of suppliers. Even some of the U.S. manufacturers have complained that by adhering to a standard that says that you have to only use U.S. parts and use U.S. software, you basically homogenize the U. S. manufacturers. They all end up using the same parts suppliers. They all end up in the same space, right? At a higher cost. And so that's just not great for the U. S. industry either. But it's certainly not something that we, when we looked at it, we thought, we could produce a drone. It costs more. We suspect people wouldn't pay more. They would just buy the normal DJI product. We actually have a forum on this. I don't know if you remember, but we came out with the Government Edition drone a number of years ago. This was a product specifically for U. S. government users, right? And those features I talked about, like offline firmware updates and everything else, that was first launched with GE, with Government Edition.
Adam Welsh: And Department of Interior did a study using NASA and others to ensure that it was secure. Basically gave it the green light in a report. The report basically said, Man, it's hard to do a big fleet update offline. Really it's hard to do individual drones offline for firmware updates, so it's a bit heavy lift. But overall this hits our needs better than anything else on the market. But what it didn't really work out because nobody really wanted to pay for government addition and Department of Interior still grounded its fleet under the Trump administration even after like they'd done this big study with NASA. And so we're it's just not a hundred percent clear to us that even if we went down that path we get any credit for it Yeah, so it's a tough one for us certainly I hope that costs will come down for US suppliers and that you'll be able to look at the issue again at some point in the future.
Billy Kyle: So the government edition, what was that like a phantom or something? What was different about it? I, it was I'm looking at it from the hardware standpoint 'cause I'm a nerd. So what I, I guess I'm almost taking a step back from regulation and just wondering what was its capabilities like, was it just a phantom or?
Adam Welsh: No, it wasn't phantom I think it was the M 600 and one of the Mavic at the time. And okay. And it was exactly the same hardware wise. It was just that you could do all, you could basically keep the thing offline all the time. And so I think we learned something from the government edition one, people won't pay more for data security, right? So like we, we charge a little bit more for it because it was a almost a bespoke product, right? . But we recognize nobody's gonna pay more for these features. So we just wrapped up all the features that were government edition and put them into all of our enterprise products.
Adam Welsh: So all of those things about offline updates that, that were government edition features now are available through the DJI Pilot app. And so to all enterprise products, which I think is the right move for us. And we don't have any price differential, right? We just look at it and say, hey, that's it's the cost for us to keep selling in the market. We need to always be leading on data security.
Billy Kyle: Yeah, absolutely. And it's funny because like you bring up Chinese parts and American parts and there's this big difference between made in the USA and assembled in the USA, right? A lot of these Chinese or a lot of these drone manufacturers and just technology or technology companies are using Chinese parts In their phones and in their tablets and in their computers and in their drones, right? It really doesn't matter. We're looking at a broader spectrum here. The iPhone is manufactured in China. It's made in China, but it's made by a United States company. So it's like you have all these different ways of saying that it's made in the US or assembled in the US like this. I think the iPhones slogan is like, the software is designed in the us right? That's how they get around that. So it really is just a game of I don't even know. It's so hard to explain because again I'm just a drone pilot, I'm just the guy that flies drones, but like, when you look at all those different terms and whatever, it's very difficult to understand almost… In all these scenarios, who's telling the truth? Like when you look at Autel, for example, they're seen as a USA drone manufacturer by a lot of people, but they really just have U.S. customer support, right? That's where they're based out of. So that's how they get by as a U.S. company. So there's a big stigma out about that, or I guess a false understanding about that. Now, I want to swing this around and discuss who are the people that are driving this, right? Personally for me, when I'm looking at drones and I'm thinking about them in the way of saving lives, I want the best product available, right? If I told you there's a little girl that's missing out in the middle of a field and drone A is going to be used to help save her and drone B can be used, but it might disconnect after 2, 000 feet and it might not work in these conditions. And which would you choose? We'd choose Drone A because it would save that little girl every single time. And then you pull the cover off and it's a Chinese drone. How do you make that decision to use an inferior product when the superior product will actually help save lives? Really, it comes down to who is driving this.
Adam Welsh: Yeah. So if you think about where our issues originated from, like really the first inklings of concern in the U.S. came when the Department of Defense found out that soldiers were buying DJI products off the shelf at their local retailer and taking them into theater, taking them to war, right? Now, DJI has always had like a standing policy. We don't want our products used for combat. So we were not aware of this, but like it was something that Department of Defense became aware of and became concerned and their first memo basically named DJI. They revised the memo to say that consumer off-the-shelf product shouldn't be taken into theater right like so they revise it to be brand neutral but the damage was done right. The DJI genie was out of the bottle so to some extent And so you then have this combustible mix because people were getting concerned about China. So you have brand what, to you and I doesn't feel like brand new technology, right? But I guarantee you to a senator or a congressperson like this is like quite new. And so they're not quite familiar with the potential of the product or how it can be used. Combine that with China, and you've got a really toxic brew. And then, I think probably most sad of all, domestic US manufacturers, to be candid, they lobby very strongly to try and force us out of the market.
Adam Welsh: They are making no bones about it. They try and lean into every anti-China stereotype you could imagine, right? We are not linked to the Chinese government. There's no Chinese… Golden Share, ICA, there's no CCP member on our board, we don't have any communist party members on, in senior roles or any other role. We are a privately held company that really, if we were a company in San Francisco, we would be lauded as the, like the great innovator, which, we have been. But because of the China, the kind of China brand. People are able to lean into it a lot. And so quite a few manufacturers have used that as part of their lobbying strategy to try and say you can't use this technology.
Billy Kyle: Yeah, and I do whenever I'm at the conferences, whenever I run into people from your team, it just seems like you're a very, in my opinion, Americanized brand. It just seems like you guys have really great boots on the ground here, and you guys are handling a lot of the situations as if an American company would. It's almost like bleeding the line, which I think is actually Now you bring up the lawmakers and people that are making these decisions, right? And these are people that probably don't fly drones every single day, right? These are people that are just like, making the decisions based off what people are telling them. And I think that the average person also still just doesn't know. And there's such a small little group of these drone pilots that can try to make their voice heard. How do you see these lobbying efforts? Is it hurting you guys behind the scenes that can you pull the curtain back a little bit to discuss some of the things that have happened with you guys as a company from these allegations?
Adam Welsh: So I don't think it's having a financial toll on us as yet. We're still publicly available. We're still the product of choice. We still have great end users, i. e. customers that are willing to stand up for us. But certainly I think it has more and more people worried, right? We have people coming to us and saying, We're worried you guys are going to get banned. We get a lot of people coming up to us saying, What can we do to support you? We've got some great law enforcement guys. These guys all do it voluntarily. They don't get anything from DJI. We don't reward them. Like I'd like to, but it just wouldn't be appropriate. But we've got like county sheriffs who say who will take meetings with lawmakers and say, you can take away my gun, you can take away my car, you can take away anything, but you can't take away my DJI drone because it saves lives and keeps my officers safe.
Adam Welsh: There's obviously a bit of hyperbole in that. I don't think he's really going to give up his gun. But you get where he's going with it, right? He knows our product is the best on the market for what he needs, and he wants to keep his officers safe, and he wants to keep the public safe. And I think, certainly, reputationally, it's hard. But I feel like our customers who really understand the technology really understand the kind of data security they can put in place. They're our best advocates and I'm confident that they'll continue to make the case to…
Billy Kyle: You know, it's funny I Actually will host like demo days because all of the police officers around me know that I get like the newest drone whenever it comes Out and I'm always doing my reviews and everything. So hey, do you have this new drone? Can we check it out? So I've become the the local drone dealer to the guys around here, but it's cool because I get to interact with them, hear about what they're using drones for in their everyday workflow, whether they're fire, whether they're EMS, whether it's police. All these guys are making use of drones in a great way. Around the Philadelphia here we've got nice open air space. A lot of people are super friendly when you get out West, we've got a lot of farmland. So drones are really a big help here in the city and in the surrounding areas. So to these people these guys that have invested, all this taxpayer money into really great equipment that might potentially need to switch and go and spend more money and spend more time training on new equipment if DJI drones are banned. What is something that they can do? What is something that someone like myself, the everyday drone pilot, can do to make our voices heard?
Adam Welsh: Yeah, first, I like that you get to go out and see some of these customers using the products. Any time I feel even mildly depressed, I just book in some time with some of our police or firefighter or other search and rescue team users and I just feel okay, whatever bad's happened is gone, like I'm reinvigorated by it because they really do amazing stuff and and the stories they tell are just like really motivating. To your point about what people can do. We get this question a lot. The first question I always get when I meet customers or agencies or others is like, what the hell is DJI doing about this? And I do want to reassure people we're doing a lot, right? We're sitting down with anybody on the hill, and even at the state level, because quite a few states have been the subject of lobbying to try and institute bans as well.
Adam Welsh: We'll sit down with anybody to explain the facts about our company. We're vigorous about defending the company. And we always go out there to show our audit reports and others to, to ensure that people understand the truth about us. But there are things that, people like yourself can do. Recently a number of of training organizations the Drone Service Providers Alliance, which represents about 56,000 small drone businesses, and DJI as well as as a number of other companies, including software providers, got together and formed what we call the Drone Advocacy Alliance. Now, this isn't to advocate for any policy that specifically supports DJI or any individual manufacturer. It's to support policies that keep the market open, right? And we have a website, droneadvocacyalliance.com. You can hop on there as an individual. It's very easy to navigate. It says, take action. It will help you connect with your…
Adam Welsh: Your federal representative, or senator, or if it's a state level issue, it'll help you connect with your state rep and just send a pretty easy to send email or connect via phone call. with that office and just express directly what you as their constituent believe about keeping open markets, right? Keeping access to the best technology, enabling free and open competition.
Billy Kyle: Yeah, I and I agree with that. It just sucks to see that if someone can't catch up to another company in terms of Technology, they have to open up their pocketbooks in order to, try and put a damper on what people are able to use, and I think that given the choice, a lot of people would choose the DJI drone. You were talking about price earlier, and sometimes when a new product comes out, I'm just stunned to see how much it costs. Like when the Mavic 3 came out, And then the enterprise and the thermal version came out and they weren't like that much more expensive. My jaw hit the ground because I was like, these drones are so capable and they're built for a commercial use case, right? Whenever a commercial piece of equipment comes out, it always costs more, but it seemed to cost the same, which again, I thought was really great. And I really commend you guys for doing that because I know for me when I first started getting into the game and, when I was new and I was trying to Start a drone business.
Billy Kyle I looked at the price of some of these drones and I was like, man, that's totally out of my price range. And this is when drones were fairly new. But again, you guys have such affordable options at all of these different price points. And I just wonder if there were to be no more DJI and I had to go buy like an Autel Nano, which costs like a thousand dollars for like a two or three year old drone, however old that drone is now. I wouldn't be getting my money's worth or my values worth, so that's awesome. Now let's talk about I guess the future, right? Like 2024. I'll probably ask you about potential products 'cause everybody and their mother wanted me to ask you about that.
Billy Kyle: But like in terms of like data security and things of that nature, do you guys have any plans moving forward for 2024? I guess really. The big thing that I think the people that are listening would want to hear is what are you doing to ensure that my friend who's a police officer in Philadelphia is going to still be able to use their DJI drone and isn't going to have to switch over? Do you guys have any plans to combat some of the different, I guess things and stigmas in the media?
Adam Welsh: Yeah. But first, can I DJI in the market? I think that's an important point because it's not just DJI, there's a whole industry that's based off DJI. There was a survey done of small businesses, small drone service provider businesses. Two thirds said that they would go out of business if they didn't have access to Chinese drones, right? And what we're talking about, they're not trying to ban just DJI. The ban would impact all of the other Chinese manufacturers. So you can assume that the Autel drone you referenced would also not be available in the market too, right?
Adam Welsh: Really like very damaging for businesses. Two thirds saying that you could, they would go outta business. That's, that te tens of thousands of businesses, potentially hundreds of thousands of employees. We looked at just the economic impact of, our own business in America, plus all of the use of our products. And it's something like a hundred billion dollars of economic benefit per year. These are big numbers, so there's software providers. If you write software, you write it for the biggest platform, right? And we are the biggest platform. You don't write it for Mr. 2. 5%, right? Yeah, that's just not the way it's going to work. and quite often we've opened up our ecosystem for American businesses to create hardware and software for, but quite often. These other domestic manufacturers have not done the same, right? So they're looking to sell the software and the software licenses and all the rest of it.
Adam Welsh: They're not that interested in having people write software for their flying frames. Overall if you did ban DJI, it would have a very heavy impact well beyond just DJI. We're sitting like at the far end of it. But there'll be a lot of American pain as well. Which, yeah, which would be tragic because we love our, as I point out, we love our customers, right? We love how they use our products and how they innovate with them.
Billy Kyle: Yeah, real quick, let me just jump in here. Like today I did a full photography job of a massive interchange in North Philly. So it's just over the Betsy Ross Bridge. And you're in an area where there is homes, there is construction going on. There is a lot of traffic and you need something that is reliable with good transmission and won't fall out of the sky. I don't think I would trust anything else but the DJI Mavic 3 Pro. I beat the living hell out of that drone. I fly it for hours every single day and I still know that it is going to perform for me in a situation where I'm in a high risk scenario, where I'm in a congested area. So it's like to your point where you say that businesses would go out of business, I would be one of them because I don't think that I'd be able to do that job and provide that service to my client if I couldn't use a DJI drone.
Adam Welsh: And unfortunately, that's true for so many people, right? When these efforts are made at the federal or state level to put bans in place, quite often the bans involve grant money, so no federal grant money would be able to be used for training or for anything else. And that impacts small businesses, right? And it's just the flow on effects of these efforts, that's why I said it's so important to go to something like the Drone Advocacy Alliance inform yourself about what legislative efforts are being put forward to ban use of products. And really get involved before it ends up impacting your business or just your ability to get the product you want. Yeah. But I think you asked you asked what are we going to do for 2024? So I should get back to the question you actually asked.
Billy Kyle: Yes. Yeah, we're going off topic.
Adam Welsh: Yeah. The we're working, we're still very focused on 2023. Like we've got a couple of pieces of legislation that they're working their way through right now. Every year the U. S. government passes the National Defense Authorization Act. And because it passes every year, it's a favorite vehicle for putting amendments into, right? And so there's an effort to put the American Security Drone Act in place, which is which would ban a number of government agencies from procuring DJI products. But also ban the use of grant money at the local level for Chinese drones as well. FAA reauthorization supposed to be done this year, so that's basically the bill that's done every five years that tells the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration, what they need to get done over the next five years.
Adam Welsh: It's like a five year plan kind of thing. Okay. But it's also like a great vehicle if you want to put in amendments that would ban the use of FAA grant money for training using Chinese drones, for instance. And so we're seeing things like that. There's amendments offered for NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, that would impact any construction company using Chinese drones. It would ban them from getting any DOD contracts. And there's a lot of stuff out there that, that is, is working its way through, that's 2023 specific, right?
Adam Welsh: As we roll into 2024 I suspect what we'll see is, as state legislatures come back in, we'll see more of these efforts to ban DJI at the state level. Obviously Florida put a ban in place last year, and so that has very badly impacted state and local law enforcement. They were very vocal about not liking the ban. The original sponsor of the bill that kind of got hijacked… It was very vocal. Senator Wright basically said that there was no reason to ban DJI. He put a bill in place basically that was supposed to help law enforcement use drones. And it got hijacked and became like a ban on Chinese drones. And so he's very angry about it. And so we expect more and more state efforts to, that we'll have to, work on. And again, at the federal level, all the appropriations bills that should get done this year, they'll probably get pushed to next year because of the struggle currently going on in DC over spending. You could imagine, like, when an appropriations bill, a spending bill is put forward, people might put forward amendments to try and limit use of any government funds for Chinese made drones as well.
Billy Kyle: Gotcha. You answered my next question, which is good because my question is going to be like, What are the upcoming bans and what's going on right now? So you gave us a good synopsis, which is good because I've been out of the loop. I guess I'm a little selfish because I live in Pennsylvania and to my knowledge I don't think we've had any talks of any banning of DJI drones in this state, which is good. You bring up an interesting point about construction though, because a lot of my clients are construction based and I've got contracts with agencies that are working on national interstates and stuff like that, right? So Is that something that maybe I wouldn't be able to do with the DJI drone if say that bill were to pass if I would I potentially not be able to use my drone as a drone service provider if I was in this scenario with that construction law being passed?
Adam Welsh: Hopefully it doesn't pass, but the way that legislation is written is really quite strange. It doesn't say that, if it were limited to say that, you can't use a DJI product on the construction of a DOD contract, that'd be one thing. It actually says that if a company uses a Chinese drone anywhere within its company, It shouldn't be able to get that DOD contract. So you can say, we'll hermetically seal you off, we won't use any Chinese manufactured drones on that project, that DOD project, that wouldn't be enough. You'd have to basically not use DJI across the board. So hopefully that won't pass, it seems just too extreme. One of the things that's hard to decipher is like how much of what's done on China on the Hill is performative. There's over 119 some bills that are China focused, anti-China. They're not all going to pass, and so we have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out which ones are real and which ones aren't. We're concerned about that defense one. It's quite dangerous, and we're going to continue to lobby against it, obviously.
Billy Kyle: Cool. I'm happy to hear that you guys are aware of this stuff. You definitely know your stuff in terms of what's coming up. So it makes me feel good because again, like I rely on your drones in order to run my own business. I know that a lot of people rely on your drones in order to save lives, each and every single day. I wanted to bring this up earlier, but with the ban of DJI drones, it just shifts the standard, right? If you take DJI out of the equation, what now becomes the standard in terms of the best drone out there? It's tough. It would be a drone that has, two, three, four year old technology that we would have to revert to, and then anybody else looking to get into the drone space is just gonna have to try to meet that standard, and we're almost going to be, like, sent back in time back to 2016, which wouldn't be good.
Adam Welsh: Yeah, I really hope that that your followers will take up the offer to look at the Drone Advocacy Alliance. I think it's a great way for them to make their point clear. If any of them feel shy about talking to their legislator, they shouldn't. These men and women work for them, right? And so they're, they should listen to their constituents. And if they go to droneadvocacyalliance.com, they'll be able to sign up, they'll be able to send messages and get involved. You asked what are we going to do in 2024 to keep the momentum? We're going to continue to have our products audited. We're big on data security hygiene. We're going to continue to, we have our bug bounty program that encourages researchers to work constructively with us to further harden our products from a data security perspective. But we're also gonna continue to try and help people connect with their legislator.
Adam Welsh: Beause that's powerful, right? We need business owners, we need different sectors to stand up and make clear why they use DJI, why they know it's safe to use DJI, referring to our data security measures. And really pushing forward the story that, if even if you want a strong American drone industry, which I think would be a good thing, by the way, you don't do it by hiding from competition. The U.S. car industry made bad cars for a long time. Like when I was a teenager, a U.S. car was not great. They make good cars now. And that's because they embrace competition and fought back, sometimes I feel like I believe more in America than some of our critics. I actually think American companies can compete. And I actually think some of the American companies are putting forward interesting propositions, right? Particularly around autonomy and other things. And it'd be great if we could all focus on expanding the industry as a whole. I think that would be so much more constructive, right? Trying to get these new use cases adopted. Try to work with the FAA to show the safety case for new use cases. That'd be so much more constructive than just throwing mud and us trying to clean the mud up afterwards.
Billy Kyle: Yeah it's almost put us into a stalemate, right? Like I just feel like it's a it's like a there, there's a lot of pointing fingers so yeah. Look, I, again, I am just a drone pilot, so I'm trying to take the step up here and talk about legislation and stuff, but, I think it's great that you came on here, just set the air clear, just because, again, I, this is above my head, so having you on is great. I know that this is always changing. So maybe we can catch up with you sometime next year just to get an update. I think that would be pretty cool just to sit down again and do something like this. I think that this was definitely helpful to hear directly from you guys about what's going on behind the scenes, what you guys think is happening. And again, just to have this kind of sit down and, chill conversation. I, a lot of these questions have come from viewers, from people in the industry that I speak with. And I got so many questions about new products. It's so funny. Like on Instagram, everybody's like, when is the DJI Mavic 4 coming out? I want a DJI Avata 2. So is there any tidbits you can give us? Anything you can share? Cause I've got to, I've got to represent for the people that are asking.
Adam Welsh: I told, and I get it everywhere I go. Like people always like. Hey what about X product? When are you going to launch the next thing? And or they'll come up to me with features they want to see in the next thing. Like that's a great thing. Our customers are for the most part, incredibly technical, technologically savvy. And they just they beat the hell out of our products. They put it through, they put it through the ringer, and they come up with all kinds of great suggestions about what could happen next. Yeah, exactly. And it's a lot of fun to interact that way. I have to say though the only thing that you can really get dinged for at DJI is disclosing new product before it comes out. The veil of secrecy is taken pretty seriously. You may laugh because we also have a lot of leaks that happen from our dealer networks.
Billy Kyle: my X-feed is loaded with nothing but DJI leaks. I see it and I go, okay, we're about two months out. Like when I first started seeing the leaks, it's like time. Like, all right, we're about two months out from that product launch.
Adam Welsh: And some people think that's actually like us, like secret, like using a strategy of leaks. It's really not. It's amazing. You get these sort of online discussions trying to figure out who it was that leaked the product or the image. All the way down to, oh, I recognize that nail polish. I know who that is. It's, yeah. Yeah but really it's one of the things that we have to keep pretty close lipped about. I have to say, though, I think on the enterprise side, the DJI Dock 2 launching it's going to come, it's going to come soon to other markets. That's a great enterprise product, like it's going to be really exciting because it brings the weight class down a bit as well. And so like the safety case might be a bit easier to work through.
Adam Welsh: And on the consumer side, I had a meeting with our consumer product team. Where it left me pretty excited. Put it that way. All right.
Billy Kyle: Look, I don't want to get you fired. I don't want to get you fired here, but that'll be pretty cool. I see a lot of things you guys are doing, like with the Mavic 3 Pro. I love the three cameras on it. I look, I fly the Inspire 3 and I fly the Mavic 3 Pro and there's a Def, definite difference in the camera quality, but I love the ease of use on my Mavic 3 Pro being able to push a button and switch between 24, 70, 160, whereas with the Inspire 3, if I want to switch from like an 18 to a 24, I got to land it and turn it off and swap the lens. And just being able to press the button is amazing.
Adam Welsh: Yeah, totally agree.
Billy Kyle: Look, thank you so much for sitting down with me. Great speaking with you. If you're available sometime next year, we can sit down, do this again, talk about some updates because I know that a lot of people out there are definitely interested. So thank you again, Adam, and we'll see you next time.
Adam Welsh: Thanks, Billy. I appreciate it. Alright,
Billy Kyle: so I'm just sitting down here finishing up the edit to the interview that you just watched. So it's given me a chance to listen back to some of the questions and the answers and overall just reflect on what Adam and I discussed. Now, the first part of the interview was just a light hearted thing, getting to know Adam because that was one of my first times ever speaking to him and also there's not a lot of information on who he is and what he does at DJI published on the internet. So I wanted to help you as the audience watching understand Who he is and why he got into the drone industry in the first place and kind of what his desires and likes are within the drone industry, right?
Like what is his favorite drone? What does he like to do with drones, right? And you could tell that he's someone that's interested and knowledgeable in this space and he didn't just take a job, right? This is something that he's actually very passionate about. Now, the second half of the interview is probably where the most substance was, right?
This is the hard hitting question that is really taking over the right now is what are we going to do about these Chinese drones, right? Like When it comes down to the country of origin, that obviously is such a big thing to consider here in today's landscape, in today's political climate. Now, you might be wondering where I stand on this, right?
Now that Adam is gone, now that it's just you, me, and the camera, right? What do I think about this whole situation? So personally, I use DJI drones each and every single day. It is the single tool that I make the most money from when I am out doing my job. And I don't think that I could service all of my clients if I had to use a competing product.
I don't think that I could trust an Autel Evo 2 Pro in the way that I trust my Mavic 3 Pro. And I don't think that… A Skydio 2 would replace my Mavic 3 Pro for my high end photo and video shoots. The camera specs just physically aren't as good as the camera specs that I have on my Mavic 3 Pro.
That camera sensor is insane. You might wonder, like, where my bias lies. In this interview, and in the grand scheme of things, where do I want to see things going? Look. At the end of the day, I just want to see the drone industry progress forward. And I don't think that we can do that without DJI.
Like why take out the top dog and then bring in these mediocre other options and bring them up to that top dog status? Because now we've taken a step backwards in eliminating the best technology on the market. So for me, what I want to see is more competition, right? Like we spoke in this interview about DJI.
DJI vs DJI. There is no competition out there right now and I want to see that. I want to see new drones come to the market so that I don't just have to review DJI drones because really what else is there available right now. For me personally, I would love to see this talk of DJI and their whole spying and data collection issues going by the wayside.
Because there's absolutely no evidence out there that they're doing this and there's nothing really to be worried about in my opinion. Think about the information that goes into your DJI account. It's your name, it's your email, it's your phone number, it's things that are already publicly available.
So to me, it's not a huge issue when I give them information that is already available on my Google account, my Facebook account, my X account, my YouTube account. Everybody has this information on me already, and it could be publicly found within probably a couple of minutes, if somebody really wanted to do some hard digging.
So for me as a drone service provider, as somebody that wants the best tools to do my job. I'm going to always be choosing a DJI drone for the foreseeable future because they're making the best products. And if they get completely banned and I need to go and use another product, that's inferior. I'm probably not going to be able to survive as a drone service provider.
That is how important and integral their drones are to my workflow. So if you guys have any questions at all, please leave them down below because we will be doing another round of questions and another interview with Adam in the future, just to catch up. And it's going to be cool to come back to this video and read those questions.
Also, if you have any sort of I guess things that you want to say, if you want to make your voice heard again, be sure to check out the Drone Advocacy Alliance. I'll leave that link down below in the description. And I also just want to hear your thoughts, like what do you think about this situation?
Anyway, thank you guys so much for watching this very long interview. And as always, I'll talk to you in the next one. Peace.
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