DJI Will Require Australian Drone Customers to Pass Safety Quiz Before Taking Off

The world's biggest drone company will force its Australian users to take a safety test before taking off starting tomorrow.

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The Shenzhen-based drone manufacturer DJI, in partnership with Australia’s Civil Aviation and Safety Authority, will implement a mandatory safety test in its smartphone app on Wednesday for Australian DJI customers. If you’re an American or British DJI user, you may already be familiar with the pre-flight test, as they were phased in in those territories in October and December. 

DJI’s smartphone app, a necessary component to piloting one of its drones, will automatically load the safety test upon launch, leaving users no choice. According to Tech Radar, the world’s biggest recreational drone company did claim that this safety precaution “will be expanded to other countries in the near future, with questions customized to be aligned with each country’s local rules and guidelines.” 

Let’s take a look at the motivation for DJI to take this step, as well as local Australian reactions.

According to The Herald Sun, Australia had a pretty shaky year when it comes to responsible use of unmanned aerial vehicles. There were 32 fines and hundreds of written notices issued for dangerous piloting, which may have been the impetus for DJI Asia Pacific to take the same preliminary steps the North American and U.K. branches took in late 2017. 

Head of DJI Asia Pacific public policy, Adam Welsh, claimed the company followed suit in order to affect new users, specifically, to help them get off on the right foot and not land the company in potential regional disrepute

“The majority of our users are flying in a safe and responsible manner but this is just to make sure everyone understands the rules,” he said. “Not everyone might have looked at the CASA rules.” 

In case you’re unfamiliar with the process, it’s a fairly streamlined procedure. The test, which must be taken in order to use the DJI Go or DJI Go 4 app, consists of nine questions that must all be answered correctly to move on. This safety test, by the way, isn’t just forced upon users who purchase their drones and apps in Australia. The app will load this process to anyone using it in the region. 

“If you come to see the Commonwealth Games, for example, once you activate the app it will detect you’re in Australia and prompt you to take the quiz,” Welsh explained. “Everyone should know the rules.”

According to CASA spokesman Peter Gibson, it’s unclear whether or not this increase in fines and notices in 2017 was due to an increase in high-risk piloting by pre-existing drone users, or simply a factor of the growing number of drones being purchased and piloted. In any case, the decision to force awareness through DJI’s app seemed clear. 

“It should reinforce to everyone who owns a drone that there are responsibilities that come with that and one (of) them is understanding the laws around flying drones,” he said. “Most people who fly drones do so recreationally and they’re not required to have a pilot’s license and there’s no registration system.” 

Regardless of how drone users in Australia may feel right now, the reality is that beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 14, DJI users will have to take a test before taking off. While that might not be the most romantic Valentine’s Day gift, it’ll presumably curb some of the more hazardous piloting on the continent, and lead to fewer mishaps. Chime in below. How do you feel about a company changing how your purchased item operates, without a choice on your behalf?