#061 – An Exclusive Conversation With DJI On Drone Data Security

In Podcast by Ian Smith


DJI is, by far, the world’s largest drone company. Recently, there have been a slew of controversial reports and conversations about the Chinese drone giant in the media, across social channels, and in boardrooms. From allegedly sharing data from U.S.-based drones with the Chinese government, to potential legal action against a security researcher who was part of their bug bounty program.

Choosing Commercial Drones FM as the channel in which to further discuss these topics, Michael Perry, Managing Director of North America for DJI, sits down with Ian to provide unscripted background and insight into all of the latest news surrounding DJI.

Topics:

  • Drone re-registration
  • New products – AeroScope and FlightHub
  • U.S. Army memo & Local Data Mode
  • Bug bounty program
  • U.S. and non-U.S. server locations
  • ICE Report on DJI drones “sending critical U.S. infrastructure data back to China”
  • What is DJI’s role in the drone industry moving forward?

Ian Smith: [00:00:14] Hey everyone I’m here at DJI’s San Mateo, California office sitting down with Michael Perry, DJI’s Managing Director of North America and today we’re going to discuss a lot of recent news surrounding the Chinese drone company, DJI, everything from recent product releases.

Ian Smith: [00:00:32] The U.S. Army and ICE memos, the bug bounty program, and what DJI’s role in the drone industry is moving forward. So, Michael Perry, thank you for coming and welcome to Commercial Drones FM.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:00:44] It’s great to be here. Thanks, Ian.

Ian Smith: [00:00:46] Thank you so much for having me again. Second time in the DJI San Mateo office.

Ian Smith: [00:00:50] First of all let’s start off. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into drones and more specifically DJI?

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:00:58] Yeah it’s a pretty funny story. It’s a lot of serendipity. I was a film school dropout so always interested in the latest camera technology and after school I ended up studying government and Chinese and ended up moving to Asia working in communications and but always staying on top of the latest in camera technology and in 2013 I started seeing some pretty amazing videos online. And I was just thinking my God. How are people capturing these shots? I remember one video was Eric Cheng went out I think to Mavericks and filmed these surfers. It was just so stunning. So I was sick one weekend just spent the entire weekend looking at drone videos and spent the entire time thinking how am I going to convince the woman who end up becoming my wife to let me buy something like this to play around with. And funnily enough that next Monday a headhunter reached out and said there’s this crazy Chinese drone company called DJI. Are you interested in speaking with them? And I was living in Hong Kong at the time so I went up we had a few conversations and that’s now been over four years. So it’s been like a rocket ship.

Ian Smith: [00:02:20] Nice yeah it definitely has. I remember actually just some statistics on the company so at the Air Works conference you guys just had, you were up on stage doing the keynote. And how many employees is DJI now from since when you started?

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:02:34] Yes we had about a thousand people when I joined.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:02:37] And today we have over 11,000. So 11x in four years, wow. Just in terms of our international market sales marketing and sales team. We had about four people at the time and now we have over 400 in offices around the world.

Ian Smith: [00:02:52] So you go pretty 10x even in the individual departments. So the majority of the company is kind of focused on R and D and engineering which is obvious when you’re just looking at the advancements in the technology that have come out in hardware and software and integrated sensors and camera technology. So anyways DJI drones are pretty much everywhere. A report released by Bard College recently which analyzed over 900,000 drone registrations from the FAA and it said that DJI drones account for at least 75 70 percent of non hobbyist drones. So commercial drones in the U.S. alone. That’s a lot of drones. This could present a safety issue though correct.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:03:37] Well I think so. I think you’re looking at the wrong number in terms of the safety issue. So it’s not the number of drones it’s the number of flight hours.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:03:46] So you know when you actually are looking at the amount of flight hours. I don’t think anybody has that concrete statistic we can extrapolate based on what we understand from our user base. But you know you’re talking and you know orders of several millions of hours of flight time per year. And if you compare that to the general safety record of traditional aviation given them out of incidents you’ve actually had with this technology pretty remarkable how how safe the operations have been. Now that’s where we are today. You have to think five 10 years out as the industry grows. How are we going to continue to maintain that safety record. And that’s really the challenge that we as an industry are facing. The recent ashore reports I don’t know if you saw but the mid air collision reports and the drop test reports that they had ended up emphasizing some pretty key statistics. I think the media ended up pulling out a lot of the most sensational aspects which is that look yeah a large drone flying at high altitudes fast can cause a catastrophic care. But if you actually drill deeper into the information the vast majority of a lot of the cases that you see the typical person using drones for end up presenting a much smaller safety risk when people had originally thought.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:05:17] Now that’s not to say that there is not anything that we should be doing. You know obviously there’s the first thing is education making sure that people understand the rules and regulations there are tools that we can build into the technology to make it safer and more reliable. That includes geo fencing which we’ve already done. We started rolling out NTSB as one additional sensor to let people understand their air environment and then the other is just the onboard sensors making sure that there’s not a collision or you know the the platform performs stable and more complex environments. So you go back to your original question as you start scaling operations from I don’t know a hundred thousand four years ago to over 900000 today is increase and safety concerns. Sure. But there are tools that we as an industry should be developing together in order to make sure that that safety risk doesn’t become a reality.

Ian Smith: [00:06:24] So on December 12th just very recently this is last week. President Trump signed the 700 billion dollar National Defense Authorization Act. That restores the requirement for all recreational drone owners to register their aircraft again with the government for five bucks so there was all that you know there was the legal proceedings that happened and then it kind of you know drone registration went away for non-commercial users. And then people are kind of doing class action against the government to try to get five bucks back. Now apparently back due to this this authorization National Defense Authorization Act. So thoughts on drone registration. Is this kind of something that is a tool that can help to me. OK. Honestly to me I’m going to answer the question. It’s kind of helping with accountability as a manned aviation pilot kind of legacy pilot here. It’s definitely a concern and you know honestly a registration is not going to stop. You know it’s not going to guarantee someone if they fly their drone into an aircraft or do something bad with it. You know it’s a guarantee that they’re called or anything. But couldn’t this be something that helps accountability and potentially safety overall.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:07:36] Yeah. So whenever we just stepping back for a second if we look at deejay’s general position in terms of drone regulation we always talk about two things. One is safe skies and the other is open for innovation. And so with any rule that’s coming in we start evaluating from that perspective Safe Skies. Is it actually going to promote safety will actually help promote safety and the way that people are using drones and then open for innovation is are you closing off access to people who have very legitimate reasons to be using this technology. So in looking at this registration within that context I think there’s a few things that we look at is that additional accountability mechanism. Sure yeah definitely could be. And I think more than anything we understand that looking at every country around the world and every conversation that’s having happening within civil aviation organizations around the world this is something that is coming down the pike. So we have to prepare for it. So registration accountability mechanism sure absolutely we support this implementation the best implementation of it. Well from our perspective we want to make sure that if this is a requirement how can we make it a requirement. That’s not a significant barrier to innovation getting more people to use it. So that’s why we really push for looking at limits. You know something below 250 grams doesn’t have to be within this framework. You know the mechanism for registration is really easy so it’s easy for people to comply with the rules and regulations and you know the cost is low. It’s not prohibitively expensive it’s five bucks. So you know we have accountability through this mechanism is the way that civil aviation organizations decide to go down then we want to at least make sure that’s as low of a lift for our users as possible.

Ian Smith: [00:09:45] Yeah that makes sense. Do you know off the top of your head. Does the Spark fall…

Ian Smith: [00:09:49] I mean the Spark’s more than 250, yeah it’s 300. So close. No worries though accountability. In the name of accountability could have shed 50 grams maybe but we’ll put it in the gym.

Ian Smith: [00:10:03] So one of the things I’ve been super curious about and it’s in the same realm of conversation is how does the geo fencing technology work on DJI drones.

Ian Smith: [00:10:12] Today some of the questions that and what I used to at one point the database if it’s maybe it still is coming from a company called Airmap down in Santa Monica in the U.S. where does the database for geo fencing come from and how often is it updated. And do you need Internet to get like a TFR if it pops up. What if you’re flying off line. How does that kind of stuff work on D.J technology.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:10:38] Yeah. So again taking a step back. We introduced a no fly zones in 2014 and this was at a time where you had we were moving from a hobby space where most of the people using our equipment were pretty familiar with Amay rules and regulations. They’re pretty savvy users of this technology too. Starting to break into the consumer space where people are thinking hey this is cool let me use it. And as that migration started happening we saw that a lot of people weren’t aware of what the rules and regulations were. So you started seeing video is starting to pop up online that were pretty concerning where people were flying dangerously close to airports. So we implemented the no fly zone concept primarily as an educational tool. So you don’t know the first thing about airspace management. You know you can’t discern between class and Class G airspace. This is a tool that helps people understand that. So from that regulators were pretty interested. You know many of our users who were responsible users were very interested and seen this disseminated more broadly. But at the same time there are very legitimate reasons why somebody would want to fly close to an airport.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:12:01] Sometimes you’re inspecting airplane or if you’re in a disaster scenario. We saw this during the hurricanes this past year. Yes there is a TFR but at the same time search and rescue workers are using inspirer ones to help find people. So how do we balance that between you know making sure that people who shouldn’t be flying are at least aware that they shouldn’t be flying. And there’s a barrier to prevent them from doing something unintentional. But at the same time we’re enabling legitimate operations. So this is why we led a revamp of our system from being hard coded into the flight controller being a little bit more balanced. Right. So we had some data that we put into the flight control. That said these are the major airports you should stay away from. But at the same time we started integrating with Airmap for more dynamic updated information. I would say yeah this is a stadium during game day. This is a wildfire. But you’re right that that information layer is only available if you’re connected to the Internet. So if you’re flying with an iPad that’s not connected to the Internet you’re not going to have that information later.

Ian Smith: [00:13:21] So ultimately TFR like the something that pops up immediately but like the normal airspace that has existed for decades prior and exists currently you’ll have that still.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:13:30] But it’s just that the TFR so many of those points but not all of them. So I mean ultimately again we think of this as an educational tool. It’s incumbent on the operator to understand what their environment is like. So you know it’s an educational tool. First and foremost and then hopefully through the innovations that we’ve had over the last several years we’ve ended up making a little bit more flexible so that it can enable legitimate operations.

Ian Smith: [00:14:01] So you know safety accountability geo fencing it all kind of goes together. And so in what I imagine is a response to all of these kind of previous topics or even a sign of the times. One of your latest product releases was something called Aero scope. All right so can you tell us what is aero scope. Who is it for and what does aero scope like what does it actually do.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:14:23] Yeah. So again this is us responding to something that we started seeing be pretty broad and widely accepted understanding of what the next generation of drone technology will have to include. So a lot of conversations have been leading towards some sort of accountability mechanism beyond just registration. So many regulators around the world are looking at UTM as an aspect of that. So the immediate application of UTM that most people are looking forward to is basically having some sort of networked approach so that all drones at all times are popping up on a map so that you’re monitoring all air traffic and there’s a few reasons for that one would be an accountability mechanism so if somebody is doing something not supposed to you can report back to the police and so on and so forth. The other side is conflicting air airspace. So you have two drones are supposed to be going in the same place at the same time. They talk to each other through this network and they avoid each other. Right. So we we saw some challenges with that. One is it requires a pretty substantial infrastructure change to the way you have to build a lot of infrastructure in order to make that work. You have to retrofit a lot of our existing technology in order to make that happen. So we also think that there’s a long time horizon there. Right. It’s going to be several years. But the immediate challenge that we’ve heard from regulators and law enforcement national security officials is that they need this technology now not you know two to three years from now. Periscope is kind of that implementation which is to say OK we have a tool that allows you to understand your immediate airspace immediately and you have the ability to see what are the drones in your airspace.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:16:28] Where are they coming from. Are they a potential threat. You’re able to see where the operator is in relation to their drone. And you can have defined field so that if you want to put in your registration number or your purpose for flying or you know any of these details you can do that just so that if you’re flying close to a prison you could say hey look I’m an insurance provider not you know somebody who’s flying something over the prison. And so we we presented that as a solution and it’s gotten a lot of support from various members of the community law enforcement and regulators like it because it’s a solution that they can deploy now. And you know just with DJI equipment alone it can address about 70 percent of the market with an open protocol that we have where the same I.D. can be broadcast over Wi-Fi. That includes many other drone manufacturers as well. So that helps address that concern. And then in terms of our users many of you our users are commercial operators who don’t necessarily want their operations going into a central government database for all time. You know if you’re a real estate agency and you’re looking at a real estate developer and you’re looking at a plot of land that you want to develop long term you might not want your competitors potentially having access to that information. Same thing if you’re a dad with a kid who’s flying in this backyard that doesn’t necessarily need to be logged at all points. So we think this is a good tradeoff between what’s available now in the immediate future and some of the more philosophical concepts of how this should be implemented down the line.

Ian Smith: [00:18:18] Gotcha. Is that actually is that a product for purchase.

Ian Smith: [00:18:22] If you’re law enforcement or an agency you can buy that product today.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:18:26] Yeah. So we have started demoing units and we’ve been taking feedback from many of the people who are trying and trying to units Ventura airport has been trying it out and giving us some useful feedback. And so you’ll see it rolling out throughout the next year.

Ian Smith: [00:18:46] And so one other product release that you guys announced at the air works conference over in Denver recently was something called Flight hub. So what is flight hub and who has that for flight.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:19:00] You know we started seeing over the last year you really started seeing commercial operations scaling up for businesses where it’s no longer just a few guys and the R and D lab who understand the potential for drones it’s actually field operators saying hey this is pretty cool.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:19:20] This is a pretty useful technology. The challenge is that when you’re trying to scale that type of operation across a large enterprise or even as a small to medium enterprise you start having data management challenge where you’re not sure who’s doing what. You know you need logging mechanisms. You need to be able to assign tasks. You may even want to be able to monitor multiple drones simultaneously and their operations flight club is designed to take all of that information compiled into one dashboard so that you can have a fleet management tool to oversee the entire operations of a business fleet of drones. So if I’m out in the field I can be telling the guy in our headquarters where I am what I’m doing with my drone I can have a logging mechanism just so that our legal and insurance team are satisfied that we’re compliant with whatever the rules are. We you know he can actually send me a message in the field and say Actually don’t bother with that mapping mission. We just did that last week. But I do need through that and the other site. So we’re pretty excited about this tool because it ends up addressing some of the specific scalability challenges that we’ve heard from some of our larger customers.

Ian Smith: [00:20:45] It’s also being a kind of a business focused podcast a nice way to get into the SAS business as well. So software as a service. It’s a monthly fee. I think it’s an it’s it’s in beta soon I believe yes. Status of that product.

Ian Smith: [00:22:31] Cool so naturally DJI by being the largest drone company. You’re also under the largest microscope. You know as we all know. So in August of 2017 there was a U.S. Army memo which circulated and it made its way into the media asking the Army members so anyone in the army to stop the use of drones immediately citing concerns over cyber vulnerabilities in response to that or what seemed to be a response to that. It seemed that DJI announced a local data mode option so keeping all the data while the drones flying like not sending anything out into the Internet and also a bug bounty program. So first what I want to talk about is the local data mode. So how does that work. Why was that created and how does that relate to this this Army memo. What’s going on with that.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:23:22] Yeah you know what’s interesting about that is it’s that the Army memo generally was talking about cyber vulnerabilities and we’ve not seen the or general report that they’ve cited in Army research lab or Navy research lab memos that they’ve cited in the report so we don’t know what they’re responding to specifically. They were just talking about cyber vulnerabilities as a larger bucket and to our mind that that could be one of two things. One is about the safety of the integrity of the data that’s collected by the drone or you know the ability for malicious actors to attack the drone. It’s an operation. So know the two announcements that you were talking about were actually things that were in progress. Had that memo just because there are challenges that we anticipated earlier this year that we ended up having to accelerate the announcement that just to show hey look we’re we’re working on these things. Local Data mode actually came out of a request from over a year ago when we were working with some of our enterprise clients who said look I understand that DJI has the ability to capture flight logs and can upload pictures and videos to Skype pixel and you know we’ve done a lot of work to help show that that’s a manual operation that people have to opt into that decision making.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:24:55] Like I upload my flight log. Right. So we demonstrated that to the client and they said okay got that. It’s not being passively pulled to someplace else. That’s fine. But we also know that a lot of the operators in the field using your equipment might accidentally push a button that they’re not supposed to and are OPSEC requirements in terms of how they handle data. They cannot even accidentally upload information that’s shared with us right. So they said can you just take that out to make sure that there’s there’s no potential of any communication of sensitive data from our operations to anything related to cut it off from the from that. Exactly. So we started doing that over a year ago. And so we were in a conundrum about how how widely should we disseminate this product. And earlier this year we start getting that request more frequently from our enterprise customers just saying hey look we’re not knowing your data management protocols can you just implement this generally for us. So it was a priority for us to start rolling this out sooner rather than later. And so we’ve already deployed that for the DJI pilot.

Ian Smith: [00:26:20] Gotcha kind of like an ulterior kind of point here and something that I noticed in the flight hub release obviously flight hub is an Internet based platform its software as a service based in the cloud. There was a call out for obviously servers located in the U.S. and like the features is like U.S. based servers. So what servers can you share like server locations what are different services like us and not us. Obviously there’s people outside of the U.S. listening to this you know and obviously you know China comes up as well. So there’s people in China too that are using DJI drones that are you know non affiliated with the government et cetera. So everyone kind of has their own preference of where should these servers be based. But can you talk a little bit about server locations and you know where that data would be going.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:27:04] Obviously as a global company we have servers all over the world and that includes A.W. server here in the U.S.. So when somebody pollutes their data to DJI that soared on an AWOL server American users when they upload something to DGI it’s stored on an ATO server here in the States. And again that’s primarily used for our customer service team. So if you have crashed your drone and you don’t know why you can upload your flight log and we can look at the details of the operation and say OK yes there was a sensor error here where there should’ve been or you know what actually you said that there was a malfunction but we can see that you were actually moving your stick the wrong way and crashed into a tree. So that information is typically really useful for us to resolve customer service cases faster. But again that information is stored locally here. What you will see over time and this is certainly true in Europe right now is the increasing requirement to store and only manage data locally. So we have to be in compliance with that as any major tech company has to be. And you know we’ll be implementing that philosophy in our data management for it.

Ian Smith: [00:28:24] So Michael was looking at data security development within your drone platforms.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:28:30] Yeah it’s. I started off as a hobby based community. Right. So we were building components so that people could build their own drones and as we started moving into the consumer space we had to start thinking in terms of software for consumers. So we made a lot of tools so that people could share their information a lot more easily. So that would include posting photos and videos to Skype pixel or live streaming their videos to Facebook. Now as we’re moving into a more enterprise field we’re having to step up our data security game. We have to start thinking about how large companies are using software to capture and store data and I think that’s not a unique challenge for DJI. You know several other consumer electronics categories have had to deal with the same issues. That includes smartphones. As you probably know it wasn’t until I think the iPhone 5 that phones were accepted on military bases. You know it wasn’t until later versions of the iPhone where you could start bringing an iPhone to work rather than having to work off a BlackBerry. And you know even still there’s that segmentation between that consumer technology which is the iPhone. And then there are specific applications where you have to use a Blackberry even now because of the level of encryption. So I think DJI is finding our role within that.

Ian Smith: [00:30:04] Yeah and you guys definitely are not the only one in the drone space dealing with that as the whole industry from hardware to software seeing everything grow you know. New concerns are popping up all over the place about data security and you know what’s your protocol for audit logs and is there a single sign on and is there encryption and you know how many bits is the encryption. Is it 128 or is it 256 is that. Yes and all these different things. So the next thing was the the bug bounty program. So there was a little you know there were some there’s a lot of stories about this that circulated. And so the stories were claiming that a security researcher Kevin Finesterre who took part in the DJI bug bounty program which I presume or you know as you just mentioned was in progress. Obviously this is a bug bounty program first of all isn’t just a DJI thing like Microsoft. This Google Yahoo. Does this if anyone uses Yahoo anymore. They use them for fantasy football. Right. They make the best fantasy football software. So anyways bug bounty program in response in response to this. Kevin Finesterre was someone who participated in it apparently uncovered some vulnerabilities and then claims that he received legal threats from DJI. So what’s the deal with the bug bounty program situation and the Kevin thing and the legal threats etc.. I mean what’s going on here with this story.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:31:26] Yeah. Again to your point this is something that we had been considering for a while particularly because earlier this year there was a lot of conversations online about people hacking the no fly zone system. And a lot of the the tools that enable the hack against the no fly zone system had been flagged to DJI but not through a formalized channel.

Ian Smith: [00:31:54] Then there were the. You could buy. I remember covering that Mike CCUTU or something or Q3. You could buy like a jail broken DJI drone like some like unauthorized third party retailer that could like fly wherever it wanted because they were hacking in.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:32:09] Yes. You know the frustrating thing to us was that we didn’t have a formalized channel for people to let us know that there was a problem. And that’s you know a challenge for us as an organization because we have to be able to be able to respond to some of the potentially malicious attacks against our systems. So we started talking about creating a bug bounty to respond to that specifically and then again talking about this broader bucket of cyber vulnerabilities. We wanted to provide a mechanism faster so that you know in case this was one of the key concerns that some of our users had about our equipment. We wanted to show that we’re doing due diligence. Unfortunately the announcement is proceeding a lot of the necessary infrastructure in order to make that sort of system work. So and particularly the early days of that program there was a mismatch of expectations between you know the DGI side and the security researchers side. And I won’t go into the specifics of Kevin’s case in particular but I would just say that generally at that early stage there is just a total mismatch of expectations. But now we have implemented a formalized terms of agreement. We’ve set up a website and as of today we have had over 25 successful bounty claims through the program and again from researchers from all over the world in the U.S. Europe Asia that are flagging issues that help us make the system more reliable. And I think that’s not only a benefit for us as a company but also for our users.

Ian Smith: [00:34:02] So perhaps one of the most surprising stories of late. So this is our final story like news media kind of like roundup here is the memo from the Los Angeles office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau which is known as ice ice. It claims that they have quote unquote moderate confidence that data on U.S. critical infrastructure is being sent back from DJI drones and made available to the Chinese government.

Ian Smith: [00:34:33] Is this true?

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:34:36] Categorically no. That is not true. So did you actually read the report the whole report.

Ian Smith: [00:34:43] I did not read the whole report I rely just as many in the world on what the media tells me in the actual you know just in the articles and what they summarize and the quotes that they pull out.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:34:55] Yeah. So if you read the full report you’ll see that all of the reports claims are based on one unidentified source who apparently has deep knowledge of the drone industry. But if you start actually looking through some of the specifics of what this source is claiming it’s pretty outrageous. I mean the claims range from like small and insignificant that are off to you know pretty large misses like saying that unique and Parat are no longer manufacturing that you know where we’ve sold X amount of units shipped through this port that don’t match our numbers for what we actually sell. And the even more outlandish claims like that our systems do facial recognition even when the systems turned off.

Ian Smith: [00:35:53] It’s very impressive if it were true.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:35:56] Yeah and there’s even this one pretty outrageous story about this couple who had a DJI drone on their vineyard and they flew it and a few weeks later some Chinese investors started showing up looking you know land around their vineyard and they said oh well that must be DJI selling this information to somebody that they shouldn’t. And all that’s really hard to stomach. So that’s the basis on which this report is coming from which is a pretty unidentified individual unreliable on an intensified individual. That said we have to make sure that we’re addressing the concerns systematically. And you know that’s an area where we have to do better. We have to be clear about what we do and what we don’t do. And you know the easiest defense that we can point to right now is just saying it doesn’t want your data. We’ve provided a ton of tools in order to make sure that you don’t give us your data that includes you know making sure that you can fly without an internet connection. You can if you don’t want your information being uploaded to DGI you can literally just switch your tablet into airplane mode. You know we could make it you know a company that was really focused on the things that this paper claims could say well you have to have an internet connection in order to make this thing work. That’s not the case with us. The more we introduce local data mode so that a user who is concerned about their data security can opt into a system so that they cannot contact DJI’s servers at all. But more fundamentally we do have to do a better job to show how people’s data are being managed when it comes to DJI and that’s something that we’ll be working through 2018 to help communicate to our customers in 2018 is poised to be just a massive year for the drone industry in general.

Ian Smith: [00:38:01] And obviously you know DJI leading the pack there and so that’s a great segue into kind of you know the final question here. You know where do you go from here. What’s DJI’s role in the industry as we look forward to 2018 and beyond. You know it’s not easy being always the top dog in the top of the totem pole or the food chain et cetera. I mean you know what is the role that DJI plays in this industry as a whole. For all of us we’re talking you know Parrot, Yuneec included. I mean setting the standard.

Ian Smith: [00:38:31] What’s what’s the way forward.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:38:34] Yeah that’s a good question.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:38:36] There’s a lot that were will be pushing forward and in 2018. The main thing that DJI is focused on uniquely compared to everybody else in the field is by creating a really open broad platform that anybody can develop on top of. So what DJI is really focused on more than anybody else is cracking the top of the funnel pulling in people who are just using a drone for fun with Spark taking funny photos and videos down to very serious industrial applications for drones. And throughout that entire process we have an open SDK so that you can develop your own applications on top of the system. We have an open we have a variety of sensors that can be integrated on board processors that can be added to the system to make them even more powerful more robust for a wider variety of applications. And what we’re seeing is that as those solutions become more and more mature you see businesses spinning off from them. You know you’ve got businesses creating smarter capture ups so that people can do more intelligent photo and video collection and sharing down to a very narrow specific drone application scenarios and that could be a software that could be you know services or could be hardware where people are creating drones that have a very specific and narrow use case I think. Did you guys role within that it’s just making sure that everybody has access to the technology and we can continue raising the level of what the industry can do as a whole.

Ian Smith: [00:40:22] Totally agree. I mean if you look past even the amazing Gimbel technology the Akis sync or the Lightbridge the you know the hardware in general that D.J. has introduced the SDK is just such a powerful powerful tool that you guys have developed and it’s been instrumental I feel for the growth of the industry and just Daija itself as well.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:40:46] Yeah if you look back in 2014 it’s been three years when we announced the Inspire one and all the media coverage all the focus was on the new platform. Right. It’s It’s cool it’s sexy it transforms wow. But the fundamental thing that we announced that day was STK and it’s the same thing with with flight up earlier this year. I mean everyone’s focused on new hardware or new announcements but really flight hub is a game changer for how enterprises use our technology. And I hope that that becomes a platform that more and more businesses can enter into this space and create the next multimillion dollar billion dollar drome startup.

Ian Smith: [00:41:35] Maybe it’s the baby the podcast will be a multibillion dollar drone startup? I don’t know.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:41:39] Gotta get Casper, man.

Ian Smith: [00:41:42] Hey Casper or Blue Apron if any of you want to advertise just hit me up, ian at commercialdrones.fm. Thank you so much for joining us Michael. It was an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you for having me again. At the DJI office here in San Mateo listeners you can follow DJI’s main account on Twitter @DJIglobal. You can also check out their DJI Enterprise division on Twitter @DJIenterprise. And while you’re at it. Be sure to follow. Commercial Drones FM on Twitter at @dronespodcast and on Facebook at facebook.com/dronespodcast. Also you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple podcasts. We’re now on Spotify which is amazing that was kind of difficult and a long time coming. And also Google Play Music. But really wherever you listen to podcasts you’ll find Commercial Drones’s FM there.

Ian Smith: [00:42:34] So before we cut off the mics, any last parting thoughts that you want to leave us with Michael.

Michael Perry, DJI: [00:42:42] We’re really excited about 2013. You know make sure that we’re going into the holiday period right. And there’s always a lot hysteria about new people getting drones during the holiday. Just a reminder to all the folks listening to this show a good neighbor and make sure that you let your neighbors know what they should and shouldn’t be doing with a drone. Let’s be an inclusive community to the new pilots are coming onboard but also making sure that we’re doing a great job educating them about how to use this technology safely.

Ian Smith: [00:43:16] The drone community is unparalleled, unrivaled. It’s, it’s insane the amount of people that are involved in this and passionate about it. So yes, be a good neighbor be a good drone advocate and help people out people out, flying safe and responsibly. So thank you so much for listening. Fly safe and catch you next time, cheers.