Dezeen Magazine

"We have limited ability to control what people do with our products" says drone company DJI

DJI, the world's largest drone manufacturer, says it has limited ability to control how its technology is used, following a reported assassination attempt on the Venezuelan president using the company's drones.

"DJI makes products purely for peaceful purposes," the company told Dezeen, in response to the reported use of two DJI M600 drones in an attempted assassination of President Nicolás Maduro.

"This is how the overwhelming majority of drone operators use them, and we deplore any use of our products to bring harm to anyone," it said.

People misusing drones must be responsible for actions

The Shenzhen-based drone manufacturer has built features into its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that aim to enhance their safety and security of the UAVs. It is also working on new developments.

However, it says it can not fully prevent people from misusing the technology.

"While we build some prudent safety and security features into our products, we have limited ability to control what people do with them," said DJI.

"As with any technology, if people decide to misuse our products in any way, they have to be responsible for their actions."

Publicly available drones potentially dangerous

UAVs were initially created for military use. They later became available to the public, as the technology got cheaper and more efficient. Drones are now being used widely both commercially and by the public.

Dezeen's documentary Elevation sets out how the technology has the potential to revolutionise the way cities are designed and operate. However, it also has the potential to be misused.

In the documentary, designer Clemens Weisshaar warned of "scary" scenarios involving drones being used to cause harm.

"It's surprising how little has happened with commercially available drones... Because there is stuff that can carry considerable payloads," he said.

"Just dropping things into a crowd is a real option. And gladly nothing has happened there yet, but it will."

DJI developing technology to "promote safer skies"

DJI has developed a range of technological solutions to limit the potential for people to misuse the widely available drone technology.

"We collaborate with government and regulators around the world to work together to promote safer skies open to innovation," said DJI.

Among the innovations is a remote identification system that helps authorities identify and monitor airborne drones.

"Safety and security officials in the US and Europe have said Remote ID is key to help keep the skies safe, because it allows them to understand what drones are in the air, where their pilots are, and which flight paths may pose concern," said the drone manufacturer.

DJI has also created geofencing systems to limit where drones can fly, altitude limitation programmes and sense-and-avoid systems.

Drones have also been used to save lives

The drone manufacture also pointed out that drones have a great potential to save people – by its count at least 142 people have been "rescued from peril by drones".

In January, video footage captured two teenage swimmers being rescued by a drone belonging to coastguard services in New South Wales in Australia, while last year the world's first commercial medical supplies drone delivery system won an award for being one of the best life-changing designs of 2017.