We sort of saw this one coming from a mile – or maybe five miles – away: some drone pilots are now buying third-party software to get around restrictions built into the stock flight control software. Quick drone safety lesson: bigger drones, like those from DJI, Yuneec, and others, have GPS-based limitations built into them, including “no fly zone” restrictions that keep them grounded within five miles of an airport, for obvious reasons.
With radio control systems now extending the flying range of top-shelf drones to several miles, these restrictions are meant to keep drones below a set maximum elevation and away from airports, where aircraft carrying actual people are operating. But the folks at Motherboard say there’s a growing business of selling hacked or modified drone software to circumvent those restrictions, and one high-profile vendor is the ironically named website Coptersafe.
So why doesn’t the FAA or someone shut down the site? That’s difficult since its operating out of Russia. The primary customers for the software hacks at this time are pilots of the popular DJI drones, and the company has responded by releasing new auto-updating software that is less vulnerable to the modified flight control software. But you know how it goes: software hacking is a race that never ends.
U.S. based pilots should keep in mind that flying over FAA-capped elevations and into airport airspace is a huge no-no, and if you get caught, prepare to lose your drone, pay some gigantic fines and maybe cool your heels in jail for a while. Remember, drones are aircraft, and if they crash into other aircraft, terrible things usually happen, so let’s keep them away from airports.
Virtual reality included at virtually no charge
Been thinking about getting into the VR scene, where all the cool kids are playing? Well, Facebook-owned Oculus just made it easier with a tempting package of their Oculus Rift cutting-edge tech. You can now get a pair of the Oculus Touch handsets and the VR headset for just $400 during Oculus’ “Summer of Rift” sales event, which essentially makes the kit half price from its initial debut. Oh, and you also get eight games in the bargain.
Why the big sale? The Rift is drifting behind the HTC Vive and the surprisingly successful top-selling Sony Playstation VR, so naturally, they’d like to get a sales boost. Keep in mind you’re going to need a hot-rod PC to make the system work well, so there’s always that small additional cost as well. But hey, if you’ve already got that covered, maybe now’s the time to spend some time in the growing VR universe.
It’s a new week and that means a new week of iPhone 8 rumors, so let’s get right to it. Notorious tech leaker Benjamin Geskin has taken to Twitter to say the new iPhone 8 could come in two new colors that aren’t so much colors as much as textures: as in mirror finishes. Geskin posted these images to Twitter showing the phone in both a “regular” mirror finish and a “black mirror” finish, which is what we would of course choose.
Apple does have a habit of introducing new colors with new phones, and we have to say, the mirror finish looks pretty cool. Again, we’ll know more in September, if only September would ever get here.
We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Close to the Metal (computers and such) on Tuesday, Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans) on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.
- Best cheap drone deals for March 2020: DJI, Parrot, and more
- The world needs a drone traffic control system, so AirMap is building one
- The best free flight simulators
- The best VR apps for 2020
- Oculus Quest vs. Oculus Rift