China's DJI, the industry leader in drone manufacturing, for its new high-security drone solution designed for government use, the company announced Tuesday.
The new drone system, known as Government Edition, installed on DJI's two new models –Matrice 600 Pro and Mavic Pro, received independent validation after a 15-month assessment by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI).
The testing by DOI over the two models' flight performance, payload and data management assurance started last April, and showed "no indication that data was being transmitted outside the system" as promised by DJI, according to DOI's Flight Test and Technical Evaluation Report issued last week.
The report said the department had been working with DJI for more than two years to develop a solution that would both ensure "the bureaus access to high quality DJI hardware" and no "unwanted data leakage to any outside entities."
Mario Rebello, vice president and regional manager of North America at DJI, hailed the result as recognition on the company's efforts in data security management over the years.
"The Department of Interior's report validates DJI's effort to build software and hardware solutions that meet the evolving data security needs of its customers," said Rebello.
DJI Government Edition. /DJI Screenshot
Highly secure Government Edition system
DJI promised consumers full control over their data, like how to collect, store or transmit information generated during use.
Unlike the traditional Internet-based data transmission, the new system cannot access the Internet. The collected data can only be stored on the device so that it can never be shared with unauthorized parties including DJI, the company said.
Besides no data transmission to third parties, rigid firmware update reviews as well as restricted hardware pairing of the new system all contribute to a higher level of data security.
Brandon Torres Declet, CEO and Co-Founder at Measure, a U.S. commercial drone service provider, said the edition "allows us to tell our clients that all of their telemetry data, meaning where their drone is flying, is stored securely and not shared with anyone but them."
"This is DJI's most secure drone solution to-date because it prevents users from accidentally or even intentionally transferring data off of the drone to other parties," said Rebello.
Tech security speculations
This is a "rare example" amid the tensions between China and the U.S. over the former's tech companies like Huawei, said some media.
In May, to "be cautious" of Chinese-made drones, saying "they may contain components that can compromise your data and share your information on a server accessed beyond the company itself."
"Safety is at the core of everything we do," DJI said in a statement, "and the security of our technology has been independently verified by the U.S. government and leading U.S. businesses."
The company stressed in a June letter to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee that "DJI cannot share customer data it never receives." It also elaborated the company's role in helping American business and government agencies, and developing drone safety technologies.
"The security of a company's products depends on the safeguards it employs, not where its headquarters are located," said DJI.