Spark owners, update your drone’s firmware or it will be grounded

Dan Baker/Digital Trends
If you own a Spark quadcopter, this is serious. Maker DJI is ordering owners of the diminutive drone to update its firmware before September 1. If you don’t, you won’t be able to fly it.

That’s a drastic measure, so what’s behind it?

Recent reports pointed to a problem with the drone that has been causing a small number of them to suddenly drop out of the sky. Although DJI doesn’t reference the issue directly, the company said in a blog post on Tuesday that it’s “decided on the option of a mandatory firmware update in order to maximize flight safety and product reliability.”

The Chinese drone giant says its latest firmware update “enhances Spark’s battery management system to optimize power supply during flight,” another apparent reference to the possible issue that’s been taking down some of these drones.

In July DJI told Digital Trends it tests its products “for thousands of hours, and the overwhelming number of customers enjoy using our products with minimal disruption.”

The latest update also adds support “to fully integrate Spark with the DJI Goggles, optimized the PalmLaunch function for better stability after takeoff, improved the accuracy of controls under the QuickShot Dronie mode, and enhanced the compatibility of the remote controller when syncing up with new firmware updates.”

Your DJI GO 4 app will prompt you to download the update as soon as it becomes available some time this week. The aircraft and battery firmware updates can also be carried out via the DJI Assistant 2 desktop software, the company said.

But remember, If the firmware of either the aircraft or the battery is not updated by September 1, your Spark drone will be going nowhere until you sort it out.

The update follows the release a few weeks ago of new features for the Spark that improve its photo and video capabilities, as well as the addition of new control gestures and flight mode enhancements.

The Spark drone impressed many when DJI unveiled the flying machine in May, 2017. The quadcopter packs a ton of tech into a tiny device, and at $499 is the company’s best-priced bird. If you’ve not seen it in action yet and want to find out more, be sure to check out Digital Trends’ in-depth review.

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