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Some DJI Matrice 200 drones “falling out of sky”

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The United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority has issued a warning to the public regarding some DJI Matrice 200 drones spontaneously dropping out of the sky.

The warning stated that some of these drones were losing power mid-flight and dropping out of the sky. It appears the problem is battery related with not all of the charge being delivered to the drone. The amount of drones affected by this issue is unknown but DJI said it was a “small number.”

This is not the first time drones have had such a fault. Back in 2016, GoPro had to recall around two and a half thousand of their Karma drones after they too were dropping from the sky. GoPro’s drone business ultimately was a flop and they closed up that part of their business in March this year, causing 250 job losses.

Matrice 200s were released in 2017 and are industrial-class, cinematic drones with 17-inch props, a  4.3 mile (7km) range and a flight time of around 35 minutes. They are frequently used for roles in search and rescue, infrastructure inspections or agriculture and are more likely to be owned by companies than individuals with their price tag coming in at around $4600.

Concerningly for anyone who happens to be on the ground when one of these things is flying – Matrice 200s are quite hefty. When carrying two batteries, they weigh 10lbs (4.5kg), more than enough to do someone significant damage to someone’s skull. Thankfully, thus far there are no reports of damage or injury as a result of falling Matrices.

The UK CAA has nevertheless requested that Matrice 200 owners keep their drones at least 160 feet (50 meters) away from people, vehicles or structures.

DJI released a statement in the last days, addressing the problem:

“DJI is aware of a small number of reports involving drones in the Matrice 200 series that have lost power mid-flight. Flight safety and product reliability are top priorities. Our engineers are thoroughly reviewing each customer case and working to address this matter urgently.”

The company has also recommended owners update their drones firmware using the DJI Pilot mobile app.

The Matrice class of drones have had a few controversies this year – the foremost of which was two Matrice 600 drones being used in an assassination attempt against Nicolás Maduro. DJI responded to that incident claiming they had limited ability to control what users did with their products.

It hasn’t been the best of years for the DJI Matrice series. In early August, two of their drones were used in an apparent assassination attempt against president of Venezuela.

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