Cape Ditches DJI for US-Made Skydio Drones Amid Security Concerns
Last spring, DRONELIFE had the opportunity to use the game-changing Cape platform for remote operations. Cape‘s aerial telepresence platform changes the definition of pilot and commander, allowing a subject matter expert to control the drone and gather the data they need in real-time, while a pilot on the ground – and sophisticated software – maintains flight safety. Cape’s target vertical is law enforcement, where intitial trials have proven extremely successful. Now, in one of the first reactions to the U.S. Government’s prohibition against foreign-made drones, Cape has announced that they will drop support of DJI drones immediately, in favor of U.S. manufactured Skydio.
The wrangling over data security and DJI drones has been going on for several years now. Despite DJI’s efforts to quell rumors through an independent audit of their systems, a new government version of their software, and assembly of aircraft in the U.S., the U.S. Congress recently passed a defense spending bill prohibiting the use of drones manufactured in “listed” countries – including China.
DJI has issued a statement in response to the release:
At DJI, safety is at the core of everything we do, and the security of our technology has been independently verified by the U.S. government and leading U.S. businesses. DJI gives all customers full and complete control over how their data is collected, stored, and transmitted and has led the drone industry in creating solutions that meet the needs of a variety of customers, from police and fire departments to U.S. government agencies. We are disappointed to learn about Cape’s decision which is based on false speculation, and remain committed to continuously working with all of our customers — including more than 520 public safety agencies who trust our products to conduct critical missions, and the entire U.S. drone industry to ensure access to the most advanced drone technology and software services.
Cape’s defection is the first such we’ve seen as a result of the ruling. Law enforcement, firefighting and other public service agencies represent a rapidly growing vertical for the drone industry. If new drone programs decide that “Made in the U.S.A.” is a criteria of purchase, DJI could feel the hit in U.S. markets – and manufacturers like Skydio could benefit significantly.
The following is a Cape press release.
REDWOOD CITY, CA — July 17, 2019 — Cape, the leading cloud platform for remote drone operations, today announced that, effective immediately, the company will drop support for DJI drones. As part of the decision, the company also launched the Cape Preferred Partner Program (P3), a new initiative aimed at ensuring the security of commercial drone integrations across industries. Skydio, the world leader in creating drone systems that combine artificial intelligence, computer vision and advanced robotics, is the first company to officially join Cape P3, just months after they were selected by the U.S. Department of Defense to take part in the Short Range Reconnaissance program for the U.S. Army. Together, the companies will collaborate on next generation technology that is both easier to use and more capable than ever before, enabling secure, intelligent, and cost-effective remote drone operations for both enterprises and government organizations.
Cape P3 was established to create a process for ensuring secure integration of Cape Aerial Telepresence software with trusted drone hardware manufacturers and enterprise application developers. The program is a direct result of increasing security concerns around the use of drones for public safety and commercial use, and follows the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) recent warnings regarding security risks related to the use of Chinese-made drones. Among the concerns, the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned of the potential risk of Chinese-made drones compromising data and sharing information on servers beyond organizations’ themselves. With the launch of the partner program, Cape software will exclusively allow for integration with hardware and enterprise applications from U.S. companies, such as Skydio, or companies from countries with intellectual property treaties with the U.S. As a result, Cape will specifically cease all integration with DJI-manufactured drones, as well as all other drones developed by companies based in China. Cape P3 is the latest example of the company’s commitment to enabling wide scale use of drones by enterprises, ensuring total data privacy and the safety of U.S. airspace.
“The success of commercial drone adoption in the U.S. depends on total data security and privacy protection,” said Chris Rittler, CEO of Cape. “In launching the Cape Preferred Partner Program and ceasing integration with DJI drones, we are taking a stand for the benefit of all enterprises who want to utilize drones as part of daily operations. We are proud to be partnering with Skydio in leading the charge for improved security standards and increased safety during a critical inflection point in the industry.”
Today’s businesses increasingly rely on the integration of drones into daily operations to maximize workforces, improve operational efficiencies and enable data-driven decision making, with security and safety topping the list of technology requirements. The combination of Skydio’s advanced drone technology and Cape Aerial Telepresence software offers companies the highest level of drone data protection, while enabling ease of use and the accessibility of captured footage by existing industry-specific enterprise applications. Now, commercial customers, public safety and government agencies will be able to easily capture 4K quality images and videos autonomously with best-in-class collision avoidance. In addition, users have the ability to operate the drone remotely from any location, and view the captured footage in real-time over any internet connection. With the Silicon Valley startups sharing the same principles on data privacy, security and intellectual property protection, the partnership offers organizations the best possible technology for practical everyday use cases that security-conscious operations teams can count on.
“Skydio’s advancements in autonomous drone technology expand the horizons for aerial data capture for consumers, enterprises and first responders by enabling robust, precise, autonomous and semi-autonomous flight in every environment, in close proximity to obstacles, and in GPS-denied environments,” said Adam Bry, CEO at Skydio. “With the Cape partnership, users of Skydio’s upcoming drones will be able to remotely operate the drones without fear of crashing, and without putting anybody in harm’s way.”
For more information or to apply for the Cape Preferred Partner Program, visit www.cape.com/partners.
Cape unlocks the power of secure, cost-effective drone integration for today’s leading enterprises and government agencies. The world’s first cloud-based platform for remote drone operations, Cape Aerial Telepresence software allows users to quickly and easily deploy drones and manipulate them in real-time from anywhere in the world, getting expert eyes on situations in the moments when it matters most. With Cape’s rapid drone deployment applications, subject matter experts and responding teams gain access to critical aerial intelligence to increase productivity and operational efficiency, improve safety, and enable smarter, data-driven decisions. Since its founding in 2014, Cape has been the trusted drone software solution for teams around the globe and across industries, ranging from public safety and oil and gas to telecommunications and utilities. For more information about Cape, please visit www.cape.com.
Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Redwood City, CA, Skydio is a robotics company that makes flying tools that free your hands and mind. The company’s first product, R1, is a fully autonomous smart drone that flies itself, combining artificial intelligence, computer vision, and advanced robotics into a tool that anyone can pick up and use in minutes. Skydio recently announced that there will be a new drone coming this fall. For more information, visit www.skydio.com.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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