First, some context:
DJI’s decided to finally pull the plug on the drone detection system.
The public reasons come from the mounting controversy surrounding the Russian-Ukrainian conflict (DJI Aeroscope is known to have significant security issues and vulnerabilities that are easy to exploit).
Multiple US govt agencies eventually blacklisted DJI in October 2022, on allegations the tech presented security threats to users, whose data could purportedly be leaked to authorities in Beijing.
Since 2017, DJI Aeroscope has been taking the cake as the easy, user-friendly solution for anyone with a C-UAS problem and money to throw at it.
It was simple to acquire, operate and integrate, and provided not only great ROI for business but also a warm fuzzy feeling for end-users (that they finally had a “C-UAS” capability). Proof: this product spurted a whole side services industry based on white labeling Aeroscope’s capabilities.
All this was fine: BAU.
However, if you talk with C-UAS experts and SMEs worth their salt, they will reiterate that it clouded the C-UAS environment with seemingly 101isms and silver bullet-type approaches (which are exactly the opposite of what should be happening).
Why is this important for the C-UAS community?
Even though it’s true that DJI’s drones account for the most significant share of the platforms flying, the Aeroscope system was only a partial remedy for a bigger problem that few still comprehend:
The development of a C-UAS capability goes well beyond the technological toolkit you buy.
The end of DJI’s Aeroscope era might worry some (especially those who always seek the easy way out of wicked problems).
However, for some, it will be a breath of fresh air.
Some of the world’s most advanced tech companies have been quietly cracking this wicked problem in the past few years. These companies understand that the future will be platform agnostic (beyond a specific brand of commercial off-the-shelf drones), and that emergent threats (for example ‘ Dark Drones’ ) and complex use cases need to be tackled with proprietary technology and multi-sensor, multi-layered approaches.
Some of these bleeding edge solutions have demonstrated recently that full-scale alternatives are indeed technically possible, not only to detect, identify, and track (drone and pilot positions), but also to provide complete full-stack tech including mitigation/neutralization/take-over capabilities.
These personal views are not a critique on DJI or the Aeroscope per se.
On the contrary, I had the opportunity to test it extensively and saw how effectively it can be used for some use cases.
It did play an important role in the infancy of C-UAS.
However, times have changed.
Threats have changed.
There’s a whole world of hard-working innovative businesses that now will have a proper fighting chance to bring to light their unique tech.