DJI Wants Controversial Drone-Aircraft Collision Video Removed

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More drone drama in the news.

In what should come as no surprise to anyone that is following the drone-aircraft collision video the University of Dayton Research Institute released some time ago, the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial drones, DJI, wants the video taken down, calling it “misleading” according to a report published today in PetaPixel.

white and black drone on white surface
Photo by Cottonbro from Pexels

The video the University of Dayton Research Institute released shows a typical consumer-grade drone, a DJI Phantom 2, doing major damage to the wing of a small plane. Not only was DJI miffed at the depiction of one of their drones doing such extensive damage to the plane wing but also the company wants the entire article about the research taken down. Apparently the company didn’t like anything UDRI had to say about the impact of a drone on a small plane’s wing mainly because UDRI miscast its research and the implications thereof according to an argument offered by DJI's counsel.

And DJI is not shying away from this stance. DJI VP of Policy & Legal Affairs Brendan M. Schulman sent a letter to the lead researcher on the project at UDRI and pretty much accused the team of “staging” the whole thing to make DJI look bad.

Schulman wrote to Kevin Poormon, “Your video assumes a Mooney M20 light aircraft is flying at its maximum possible speed of 200 mph, and encounters a drone apparently flying faster than its maximum possible speed of 33.5 mph…The plane could only achieve such speed at full cruise, typically more than a mile above ground. At the altitudes where that plane would conceivably encounter a Phantom drone, it would fly less than half as fast — generating less than one-fourth of the collision energy.”

Further, Schulman didn’t like that, when released, the test results were intentionally vague and almost implied that the aircraft involved was a large passenger plane and not a four-seater, as PetaPixel points out.

Representing DJI, Schulman continues, “Your video was not created as part of a legitimate scientific query, with little description of your testing methodology and no disclosure of data generated during the test…Your blog post describes a similar test performed with a simulated bird that caused ‘more apparent damage,’ but your decision not to post or promote that video indicates your bias toward sowing fear. Given UDRI’s wide-ranging publicity efforts in print, broadcast and online media, it seems clear that your misleading video and incendiary blog post seem designed to generate paid research work for UDRI at the expense of the reputation of drone technology broadly, and DJI’s products specifically.”

Of course, drones and aircraft have a long history in the popular press and, to be fair, DJI, for its part, is at the forefront of proposing and devising safe drone legislation and regulations in the markets within which their products are sold.

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