AeroScope Just Another Cheap DJI Parlor Trick

The DJI Safe Skies, Open for Innovation (Not really) invitation was promptly forwarded to my email just a mere 5 minutes after it was mass sent to invite the (as Jon Resnick says in the video) “usual suspects” down for the unveiling of the AeroScope product by DJI in Washington DC on October 25 at the Washington hotel in DC.

I was under the assumption this event was open to the public, as the cofounder of the CUAS Coalition I felt it my duty to see the new CUAS system that DJI had built. I filled out the contact form and hit the send button, however I suspected that DJI did not want me to come to this event given the past stories I wrote on their security issues. The invitation was forwarded to me by someone in the government who recently told me that they were barred from any conversations with any DJI employee or affiliate. The same person asked that I go to the event with an open mind and report back what technologies I believe were relevant and what were they essentially claiming as stopping “all drones” was a tall order to fill. I had my doubts, but the contact is a close friend and I was excited to go. I also sent this invitation around to some colleagues, intelligence community members and political offices key to defense issues to spread the word to stack the room with intelligence officials and cyber info security professionals to take in all that DJI was saying and to keep track of the conversations should I fail my portion of the mission that being to attend the meeting and ask some questions.

Everything was going according to plan until around 4:40 pm the night before the event when I was sent the following email:

This seemed suspicious to me, it wasn’t from DJI and also left me to wonder if it meant there was not hotel accommodations which is what it said, I knew though it meant they didn’t want me at their event because of my knowledge of aviation systems and security. I immediately called the number 3 times with no answer. I thought I would just show up and see how things would go. I called my close friend who happens to be my director of finance to see if anything in his itinerary changed. I also checked with my other contacts who signed up after I had, you would think first come first serve right? Well no one else received an email until about 3 hours later my director received the same email. I guess they combed through our coalition website and found he worked with us and barred him from the event. The others I invited through a proxy didn’t know me nor did I know them and they reported that they did not receive emails stating they were full and uninvited.

At 8:45 am when we approached the W the place they were having the event in the rooftop ballroom a +300 person capacity room Mr. Jon Resnick who I have known for 4 years now, (was) Facebook friends and even shared a beer with on one occasion was waiting for me. He reached out as we shook hands and he asks me if I got the email he sent to us. He also said hello to Matt and he has never met my director before. He told me I wasn’t invited, which I was invited up until 4pm the day before and confirmed so was Matt. But as Jon states “we were not invited as they were full.” Which seemed funny for me since the room is so large and reports from those inside the event said there were open seats.

I started a live tweet and wanted proof of Jon a person with +20 years in the news business denying a reporter from sUAS News access to his event to cover a story, that goes against everything a journalist stands for I thought? That video is below:

He says in the video that I was not invited nor my colleague and told us to leave. I turned the camera off and I gave him a chance to reconsider. I told him that someone in the government sent me the link to attend this event, it said it was public and asked for nothing more than a name, email and phone number to attend. Jon said again we were not invited. Is this company really someone who we should be trusting given the latest news about their behaviour on the Drone Advisory Committee? Read the Washington Post article here their secret failed meetings

In summary, Jon seems awful nervous in the video, I was sent the invitation by a government official and one would assume they already had their own people at the event. I also personally sent the invite around to more people some by proxy to attend who were in the information security, cyber threat analysts and airspace industries to listen to what DJI said, take pictures and notes. As a departing gift to Jon I told him that I already knew he would pull this type of stunt and I already had people upstairs.

You would think that they would let me into an event that was open to the public or even a closed private event if I presented my press credentials to allow entry, which truly shows they are hiding something, but what? Is it that their new system doesn’t do all it says, to stop every drone outside of DJI’s product is highly unlikely. Is it that now Brendan Schulman and Jon Resnick are accessories to espionage because they know DJI is collecting data on the American people? Or have they been involved in gifting to officials? Or collusion on the DAC by banding together to stifle votes and dominate the committee, this is a foreign government, not an American corporation.

The real issue here is that their entire system can be defeated by either covering the drone with aluminium foil and using rubber bands to secure it so it won’t be able to connect or buy a Russian app for $24 and unlock your DJI product. How do they expect to be vigilant when the Chinese culture doesn’t even have a basic concept of computer security? Videos that teach users how to defeat the geosystem are prevalent enough now that someone with almost no knowledge and a credit card can override their “Secure” system.

I am calling for more people to question DJI’s motives as we gather more data, if this movement interests you as an American small business owner or you are upset about being denied access to airspace because DJI employees in China will not respond fast enough then I encourage you to contact us at the CUAS Coalition and let us know any information you have about unscrupulous business practices from DJI. This isn’t the last time DJI will hear from Rob Thompson, the next forums they are attending are public and I will be there asking the same questions and gathering data building my case for the American people and government to examine.  

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Rob Thompson
Rob Thompson is the co-founder of Falcon Foundation, a 3rd generation commercial multi engine pilot, Part 107 holder who also holds a Master of Science from James Madison University for his work in aviation system designs and technical & scientific writing. Falcon Foundation provides leading advocacy efforts in the unmanned aircraft systems industry, managing government relations, committees of association, executing legislative and regulatory strategies and creating law through the corresponding legislative committees. By working independently on advocacy issues, educating the clients on public policy issues quickly, and by engaging team members to facilitate successful results. Client policy issues will include aviation regulation, unmanned aircraft systems, Part 107 waivers, the regulatory process, and industry safety concerns. Client groups include aviation professionals, unmanned aircraft systems, and operators, both commercial and hobbyists, and non-aviation business sectors, including small business service and manufacturing sectors.