DJI, one of the top drone manufacturers in the industry, recently announced it fired some of the company employees after fraud cases that could cost the company millions of dollars if the information becomes public.

The company also stated it conducted an internal investigation and found that some employees inflated the cost of certain product materials and components for personal gain. DJI also made it clear that it contacted law enforcement regarding the incidents and that it would strengthen its internal controls. The matter now goes into the jurisdiction of the Shenzhen police, the city where the company is based.

SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd is the world’s largest drone maker and a privately-held company. According to its latest report, the company employed roughly 12,000 people at the end of 2018 and was planning on increasing its staff to 14,000 employees by the end of 2019.

Fraud: Legal Definitions

Legally speaking, fraud is considered the deliberate deception to achieve some gain or to deprive a victim of a legal right. The U.S. recognizes two main types of fraud: civil (in which case the victim sues the perpetrator directly to recover damages) and criminal (the government persecutes the perpetrator).

Furthermore, according to the U.S. Code of law, the perpetrator must fall within the following categories for an offense to be considered fraud:

  • Falsify, conceal, or cover up a material fact on purpose;
  • Make a materially false or fraudulent statement or representation;
  • Make use of any false document knowingly.

According to a specialty fraud attorney, the penalty is a fine and up to 5 years imprisonment in most cases. However, if the case of fraud also involves an act of international or domestic terrorism, the penalty increases dramatically.

But since the company in question is based in China, it falls under the jurisdiction of Chinese law, which has strict provisions and penalties for the criminal act of fraud. Critics note that although China has the legal framework to prosecute these crimes, they are not generally enforced.

Fraud in China

The Chinese government seems to tolerate, at least partially, the act of fraud among its companies. The Bank of China recently disclosed that it was collaborating with U.S. government to recover half a billion dollars embezzled by managers who ran to America, but experts believe this is only part of what’s currently happening in the Chinese market.

Legally, the Chinese legal framework establishes multiple offenses as fraud:

  • The unlawful raising of funds;
  • Using forged documents for financial gains;
  • Defrauding financial institutions;
  • Insurance fraud;
  • Credit card fraud.

If the police investigation conducted by the Shenzhen police finds the DJI employees guilty, they may be facing criminal prosecution by the Chinese government. The penalty itself will depend on how the authorities will interpret the seriousness of the crime. The company itself may also be facing prosecution if it is determined it has previous knowledge of the fraud.

But so far, the evidence seems to point in the other direction. The crimes were uncovered after DJI’s internal audit in 2018, after which it conducted an internal investigation and contacted the authorities. It is estimated that almost 100 people are involved, and 45 current and former employees have been put under official investigation.

The company loses are estimated at a CNY1 billion (roughly $150 million), which means those found guilty may be facing tens of years or even life in prison according to Chinese law. Moreover, depending on the circumstances of the cases, perpetrators can also have their property confiscated and face a fine.

Final Thoughts

China is no stranger to fraudulent cases, whether it’s conducted Chinese companies, or even international companies only based in the country. Given past examples, it’s difficult to predict how the case of DJI will play out, though it seems that at least from the company’s side, there are some measures taken to get to the bottom of thing

The consumer drone market is growing at an incredible rate. Falling prices, new technology and widespread availability means that drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are becoming a common sight in skies around the world. As well as being used for aerial photography, racing of drones is becoming a popular pastime.

UAVs contain advanced technology and are easy to fly, but it’s still possible to crash one if the pilot doesn’t understand how they work. Repairs are possible sometimes, but a serious accident with a drone may mean replacement is necessary. Accidents involving drones can result in legal action against the pilot in some cases, so it’s important to understand the rules of the air and how they affect UAVs.

The following tips will help to ensure new drone pilots make safe and enjoyable flights as they gain experience.

1) Never take off before reading the manual.

The excitement of getting a drone means some people make their first flight without reading the instruction manual. This is one of the most common causes of accidents. Always read the manual and understand the key facts about a UAV before taking off. Important points include how to set the drone up, the average battery life and what to do in an emergency. More advanced drones work in conjunction with apps, so you’ll need to download and set one of these up on your smartphone before flying. If the instruction manual isn’t clear, there are hundreds of drone tutorial videos on YouTube.

2) Check the aircraft before takeoff.

Most drones are packed with the propeller blades removed, so these need to be attached before takeoff. Follow the instructions carefully, as there is usually a specific configuration. Ensure the propeller blades are tightened before switching the aircraft on. If the drone has a camera, the gimbal may need to be unlocked before take off.

3) Understand how sensors protect a drone.

 Advanced UAVs have sensors to prevent collisions. It’s important that the pilot understands how sensors make the aircraft react and the directions they operate in. Professional drones have forward, rear and downward facing sensors, and they can be adjusted to operate at different distances from objects in their paths. More basic drones only have forward facing sensors, so they will crash into obstacles if flown in reverse.

 4) Check the weather before flying.

Small UAVs don’t fly well in adverse weather. Gusts of wind make it hard to control drones, and the battery life drains quickly as the rotors fight to stay on course. Water can cause serious damage to the sensitive electronics inside UAVs, so they should never be flown in the rain.

5) Maintain line of sight.

Flying a drone beyond line of sight is another common cause of accidents. The controller’s screen may give a clear first-person view from the aircraft’s camera, but this doesn’t tell the pilot everything he needs to know. For example, a helicopter approaching from the side of the drone won’t appear on the screen. It’s illegal to fly an unmanned aircraft beyond line of sight in many countries.

6) Take extra care flying indoors.

Flying drones indoors increases the risk of accidents. UAVs operate using GPS, and this may be weak if walls obstruct the satellite signal. Controlling a drone in a restricted space takes great skill, and it’s something only experienced pilots should undertake.

7) Learn to use the ‘Return to Home’ (RTH) function.

Sophisticated drones like DJI’s Phantom and Mavic offer a failsafe RTH function. If the GPS signal is lost, battery power is low or if there is a technical problem, the aircraft returns to the point of takeoff. This is a fantastic safety feature, but the pilot needs to set the RTH correctly and know how the aircraft will respond when it enters this flight mode. A drone will automatically fly to a set altitude in RTH, and this must take account of the surroundings. For example, if there are tall trees around the RTH height must be set to fly over these.

Owning your first drone is the start of an exciting new hobby, and it could even lead to a career as a UAV pilot. If a new pilot focuses on safe and responsible flying, there is very little risk of anything going wrong.

8) PCB Assembly

It can be a good idea to look up online alternative circuit boards when you are replacing your drone hardware, or if you wish to upgrade it down the line. There are many companies offering custom print solutions, one such is PCB Assembly China that has a large number of possibilities for their customers at affordable prices.

Drones have undoubtedly changed the way we see the world, a boon for those who like to combine their adventures with a sense of scale and exhilaration. Despite associations with crime and deeds of more destructive natures, the last few years has seen drone technology for the photography enthusiasts reach new heights.

Advantages of Using Drone Cameras

What have drones brought to the table? Quite a lot, in fact. Here are some of the big reasons high-quality drone imagery have lit up the world of photography and cinematography.

Drones give you the best perspectives. There is no replacement for the high-level detail that one can get from an aerial shot. There were times when this was the domain of professionals with big budgets, usually involving aircraft. Now drones are accessible to most and you can enjoy taking videos and photos from the safe comfort of the ground.

When you take pictures from above, the landscapes look larger and have an added sense of scale. Drones are very convenient. You don’t have to find yourself perched uncomfortably in a ‘vantage point’ just to capture that perfect angle. A drone does everything for you.

Drones – Integrating with Science and Commerce

Scientific research has greatly benefited from drone technology. From pictures of wildlife behaviour to conservation related reconnaissance, drones help us literally get the larger picture. Environmental impact is best studied with high-definition overhead pictures which give the viewers a look at the contrasts of pristine nature and degradation in a single video or still capture.

The real estate industry has also found a lot of leverage in drone technology. Aerial photography helps present a site along with the surroundings – giving potential buyers the complete picture, and a rather impressively made one at that. Regular on-ground photography cannot capture the details of a quality aerial shot, so drone footage is now an essential marketing tool for real estate companies.

A Few Pointers

Having the tool does not guarantee a great video or image. There are some pointers you need to keep in mind. Remember that a lot of times the scenery you shoot makes your picture interesting, but if you want your work to stand out, you have to own some good techniques.

When shooting man-made landscapes like residential neighborhoods or other man-made locations, look out for repetition of tones or formations. These give your image a sense of continuity and some definition. It also helps viewers enjoy the patterns and layouts that on the ground seem unconnected.

Getting up in the heights means a totally new perspective on things

Contrasting colours always help you create striking images and videos. Enjoy dramatic scenery with a well-taken drone shot – a very common example is coastal shots of azure waters and light shores.

From an aerial point-of-view, you will get to see the patterns of the location or landscapes. In fact, this is a core character of most drone footage. Think of the landscape as a fabric and find the patterns. When you are getting a bird’s eye view, look for symmetry. Urban landscapes are ideal for getting the perfect mirror image shots.

When shooting with a drone, transfer the sense of scale to the viewer by capturing the horizon along with the landscape. Play with the shadows of the objects. If you are taking a still, it is important that you frame the image well. Try to create a defined boundary for the patterns and landscapes you capture.

Use your imagination when it comes to drone shoots. It is also great fun to catch different videos online and get an idea of what the best drone photographers and video makers in the world are up to. A drone allows you to explore. The best footage can be the most unexpected. So charge up your drone and head out with an open-ended plan.

Another beautiful image shot with a drone

A Platform for Drone Enthusiasts

Drone photography is a complete segment in itself, requiring niche tech and skills to get the best out of the apparatus. The worldwide drone community is united by a love for the best aerial shots, of themes that span the entirety of natural and man-made landscapes. Adventurers are celebrating this revolutionary technology and newfound ability to document their activities in the most authentic way possible.

When it comes to capturing the action, water-based activities have always posed a challenge even to the most experienced of video producers. Drones have added a completely new dimension to dynamic aerial photography. You can browse through some amazing drone videos on a platform dedicated to the drone age. Watch surfers ride the waves across the world from Hawaii to the Maldives. Get a birds’ eye view. Get inspired.