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Ask HN: DJI possibly providing location of Ukranian drones

Apparently from this CNN report there is a suggestion (@1:57) that DJI is feeding Russians the location of Ukranian drones used to call in artillery.

Is there any scheme (alternate firmware, open source app, firewall settings) that can prevent DJI from receiving this location data?


  • 63 points
  • β€’ 1 day ago

  • @kevin_thibedeau
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Ask HN: DJI possibly providing location of Ukranian drones

@throwaway888abc β€’ 1 day

Replying to @kevin_thibedeau πŸŽ™

Some more details, not heard about solution





@vytvy β€’ 14 hours

Here is video that was done by biggest distributor of dji drones in Ukraine about what happened and that China helped russians to track ukrainian dji drones - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=706sOiEEVkY


@wmf β€’ 1 day

To be clear, the data never goes to DJI themselves. DJI drones broadcast their location and other information over RF for anyone nearby to receive. In a war zone we should assume that all interested parties are listening.


@sschueller β€’ 13 hours

DJI and third parties sell equipment to track drones and even locate the pilot easily. These are available for a few thousand dollars and were meant to protect airspace such as around an airport but of course they can also be used by militaries to target an enemy.

In fact the DJI system [1] will see a drone as soon as its powered on even if it isn't even flying.

In the end any drone pilot sending signals can be tracked and the only way around this is to fly a drone completely autonomously with way points and only receive video from it. Some open source firmwares and controllers support such features.

[1] https://www.dji.com/ch/mobile/aeroscope


@nickphx β€’ 1 day

The "drones" broadcast the data over wifi as an AP beacon with additional data.. Aside from developing the firmware to do this, DJI does not control or provide the information..


Might be able to create sufficient 'noise' using this -- https://github.com/DJISDKUser/ESP8266_DJI_DroneID_Throwie


@tristanj β€’ 1 day

Here is a video showing a DJI drone operator in Ukraine being struck by artillery seconds after landing a drone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZXzMUxfR6c

According to this article [0], DJI drones broadcast the following data in real-time:

– Model of drone,

– position and height,

– the story of flight,

– home point (off point),

– the position of the pilot (with GPS included in the mobile device connected to the remote).

Russia has reportedly installed DJI Aeroscope monitoring stations that can detect these signals from 30-40 miles away.

[0] https://dronexl.co/2022/03/16/risk-of-flying-a-dji-drone-in-...


@neonsunset β€’ 1 day

For now we’re just not using DJI near frontlines, where instead Autel is usually chosen, especially the ones with thermal sights. Being able to use open firmware would definitely be awesome, to protect lives of operators and to customize drones further.


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