DJI has revised its software update process in an attempt to make sure its drones are running with the latest geolocation info. The changes will come into effect on Friday this week, and will stop owners who don't register their drone from using its full functionality.
When downloading the latest firmware, existing and new DJI drone owners will have to log into their DJI account. This allows the company to confirm the update has successfully been installed, and tailors it for local regulations and no-fly zones.
If the update is installed but isn't confirmed through a DJI account, that drone won't be able to fly further than a 50 meters (164 feet) radius, or higher than 30 meters (98 feet). Live camera streaming will also be disabled until the drone is registered through an account. Obviously, this is a huge drop in capability from the standard 4.8 km (3 mi) range limit of the Phantom 4, for example.
This update is the latest move by the drone market leader to stop its devices flying into restricted or dangerous airspace. Having rolled out a flight limitation system in 2015, the company launched a more comprehensive geofencing system in January last year. Now, anyone who doesn't have the latest firmware – and (by extension) the latest geofencing information – on their drone won't be able to enjoy its full functionality.
DJI's new registration process will come into force this Friday. Owners need to update their drone firmware using the relevant iOS or Android app, and then log into their DJI account to activate it. Don't worry if you've forgotten your password – DJI is at pains to remind its owners they can reset it through the app, and won't have their device hamstrung because of a poor memory for passwords.