A Russian software company, ironically named Coptersafe, is selling modifications to help consumers get past government- and military-enforced no-fly zones.
In recent years, the US government has cracked down on unauthorized drone flights. As a response to the warnings and fines imposed by the law, drone maker DJI has put a number of safety measures in place, including geofencing and setting limits on speed. A statement on the Federal Aviation Administration website encourages people to report drone sightings around planes and other aircraft.
Coptersafe’s mods are made specifically for DJI drones, according to a report by Motherboard. Coptersafe offers modifications to those limits. You can confuse your drone’s GPS into thinking it’s okay to fly in no-fly zones and in absolutely restricted areas, and you can remove the 500-foot height limit, among other customizations. Each mod goes for an average price of $350, and the company offers both physical modification circuits and software mods that can be downloaded.
Some of these actually get to be quite humorous, despite the dangerous implications. “Mod greatly improves Phantom 4 Pro sport mode. It becomes mad racing drone,” reads one product description on Coptersafe. “Don’t overload it with mad flying.” The company recommends flying DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro in mountainous terrain with strong winds following modification.
Just a few days ago, I saw a small crowd gather outside my house, attracted by a loud buzzing sound. As I walked closer to the source of the noise, I observed a small drone flying a few dozen feet from the ground. Had it traveled any further from my home in deep Queens, it would have reached LaGuardia Airport’s no-fly zone. With these hacks easily available to consumers, it remains to be seen how the government will react to more unmanned aerial vehicles illegally taking to the skies.