Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

UAV Operator Blames Hacking For Malfunction That Injured Triathlete

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the convenient-line dept.

Australia 178

jaa101 (627731) writes "The owner of a drone which fell and reportedly hit an athlete competing in a triathlon in Western Australia's Mid West has said he believes the device was 'hacked' into." From the article: "Mr Abrams said an initial investigation had indicted that someone nearby "channel hopped" the device, taking control away from the operator. ... Mr Abrams said it was a deliberate act and it would be difficult to determine who was responsible as something as common as a mobile phone could be used to perform a channel hop. The videographer added that there had been a similar incident when the drone was flown earlier in the day."

cancel ×

178 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Evolution (4, Funny)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46680599)

This is why, as a professional athlete, I always make sure I'm fielding my own anti-drone drone to take out drones that get close to me.

Re:Evolution (5, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 months ago | (#46680783)

This is the funny part "The videographer added that there had been a similar incident when the drone was flown earlier in the day."

If he drove a car, and he noticed that the brakes had failed earlier, but instead of getting it repaired, he started a new trip, eventually plowing into a group of people, he would be in jail...

I guess it's different if you are piloting a toy plane over a crowd.

Re:Evolution (5, Insightful)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | about 6 months ago | (#46680865)

Reads like bullshit anyway. Something went wrong, he throws up the "it wasn't me it must be those evil hackers" defence rather than accepting the blame for putting his device together poorly or letting it go out of range. There would be no way of knowing for sure if another device took control during the incident (because who would build that in to a home made UAV), so he *may* be telling the truth, but if it happened twice in one day either someone is out there deliberately hashing the channels to mess with everybody, or he just went out of range/did something wrong/etc.

Re:Evolution (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681031)

but if it happened twice in one day either someone is out there deliberately hashing the channels to mess with everybody, or he just went out of range/did something wrong/etc.

Or someone on the track next door has a track cleaning machine with bad shielding around the motor. They clean the other track whilst everyone is looking at the athletes competing over on the other side.

Re:Evolution (4, Informative)

niftydude (1745144) | about 6 months ago | (#46681223)

Reads like bullshit anyway..

\ This is correct. According to the drone operator: "She looks over her shoulder and gets frightened, falling to the ground and bumping her head, but the drone didn't actually strike her"

But according to the triathlete: "I have lacerations on my head from the drone and the ambulance crew took a piece of propeller from my head"

I reckon the drone operator is full of shit and just making up whatever comes to mind. In the same breath he claims that the drone didn't hit her, that she fell on her own, and that anyway the drone was hacked so it isn't his fault. Typical blame everyone but himself personality disorder.

Re:Evolution (2)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 6 months ago | (#46681937)

He's basing his claim on the drone footage showing it crash to the ground. That doesn't mean she didn't get hit: Depending on how fast the drone was going, the shrapnel could have been pretty nasty - particularly pieces from the propeller.

Re:Evolution (4, Interesting)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 6 months ago | (#46681535)

Something went wrong, he throws up the "it wasn't me it must be those evil hackers" defence rather than accepting the blame for putting his device together poorly or letting it go out of range.

The drone looks like a DJI Flamewheel F550, and I'm guessing by his comments he was using the DJI iPad Ground Station (or equivalent) to bluetooth to his iDevice.

That gives any hacker two vectors of opportunity, but also the operator two transmitters to get out of range from, with the Bluetooth connection being the shortest range and most likely culprit. And if it was really a bad guy taking control or disrupting the connection, I suspect the iPad's Bluetooth is again the one any opportunistic villain would be more likely to be familiar with.

Re:Evolution (5, Insightful)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 6 months ago | (#46681597)

Mobile phone 'could have been used to channel hop'

Um, so pretty much doesn't that mean the drone was running on WiFi? So it was most likely simply interference, another device was trying to use the same channel has his device. Lesson 1: If you're going to operate a UAV over WiFi, check to make sure nothing else is on the channel. Lesson 2: If you're going to operate a UAV over WiFi, don't fly it where it could crash into somebody because you never know when another device is going to interfere with the channel you're using. Lesson 3: If something in the area interfered with it in the morning, don't fly it over humans without figuring out the interference.

He said a full check was conducted and the device was taken elsewhere for a test flight, but he said no issues were detected.

Which means whatever it was interfering with was in the area you were operating it in when it crashed, not the area where you tested it.

Mr Abrams said an initial investigation had indicted that someone nearby "channel hopped" the device, taking control away from the operator.

So somebody switched on their mobile hotspot and it was on the same channel as your UAV.

The videographer added that there had been a similar incident when the drone was flown earlier in the day.

Wow. Had this not happened I'd say the guy doesn't understand technical stuff (he's a photographer, not an IT guy) and that this was an unfortunate accident, but considering it happened earlier, he didn't consult with a technical person, and he still flew it over humans that's downright negligence and he should be responsible for the competitor's medical expenses, entry fee and any travel expenses. Perhaps even prosecuted for endangerment (either reckless endangerment or public endangerment, I think Australia has those laws similar to most US states).

Re:Evolution (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 6 months ago | (#46680869)

Or if there's a guy clearly in your back seat that you noticed was driving your car previously, lol.

Re:Evolution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680799)

!! Master /b

Re:Evolution (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#46680959)

This article [yahoo.com] has a much better photo, including the "drone" right after it smacked into the guy's head.

If only it were possible to do challenge/response! (4, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | about 6 months ago | (#46680603)

If only it were possible to do challenge/response! Using a pre-arranged CERT, so that the drone sends a challenge for each command that has to be encrypted with the shared secret before the drone would accept it!

Oh... wait... it's completely possible.

Re:If only it were possible to do challenge/respon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680643)

You say that like people playing with UAVs have any real experience w/ software engineering at that level - most of them are hobbyists or researchers coming from other fields (such as surveillance, mapping, aviation, control theory/practice, etc) - most of them wouldn't even be familiar with any real cryptography.

Re:If only it were possible to do challenge/respon (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680723)

In the US, properly designed 2.4 GHz RC radios, at least for model aircraft,
do in fact authenticate control signals. The best of the lot use a
channel hopping technique that is effectively all but totally imune to interference.
I assume that such equipment is available in Australia, and should have been
used.

Re:If only it were possible to do challenge/respon (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680895)

The guy was an idiot. Any drone worth its money will not just "fall out of the sky" when it loses signal. It will return to home or do some other pre-programmed action.

Re:If only it were possible to do challenge/respon (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46681103)

Frequency hopping RC radios are pretty much the standard today among model plane enthusiasts. My dad happens to fly them and IIRC the freq hopping technology went into mainstream a good decade ago, as far as I know you can't even get "old school", fixed-channel controls anymore. It's also low-tech-person compatible technology (my dad most definitely is one), you simply press a button on both sender and receiver to "attune" them and you're set.

The technology is also quite tamper proof. Short of full frequency spectrum static flooding, there is very little you can do to disable communication between sender and receiver, let alone "take over" control of such a plane.

Of course, I don't know what the current tech standard for drones is like. I would have thought, though, that the standard would be higher than it is for toys.

Re:If only it were possible to do challenge/respon (3, Informative)

Platinumrat (1166135) | about 6 months ago | (#46681867)

But what kind of person is going to research all the information needed to fly and operate a drone safely. Mostly, they'll buy the cheapest unit that the retailer sells them.

The fact that he crashed it, is likely to put him into trouble, especially since he was using it for commercial purposes. In Australia, a license is required to operate a UAV commercially, with adequate certification of the pilots.

From the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

1. It's Illegal to fly Remotely Piloted Aircraft for money or economic reasons...

2. You must not fly closer than 30 meters to vehicles, boats, buildings or people

3. FPV flying is illegal without an Advanced Amateur Radio License

....

I guess he's in a lot of trouble.

Re:If only it were possible to do challenge/respon (2)

Platinumrat (1166135) | about 6 months ago | (#46681877)

1. [...] without a license

Challenging (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46681133)

"It looks like you're trying to maim an athlete. Move Left to proceed, Right to cancel"

Wait - my left or its left?

Re:Challenging (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46681359)

Texas left.

Re:If only it were possible to do challenge/respon (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681183)

Depending on the model of drone, NO IT IS NOT
The parrot AR drone in particular has no security, and you can't add any ontop of it (We've tried, and it wants to be a black box, and me trying is why posting as AC)

Many of the drones out there are NOT meant to be tinkered with, and I haven't yet seen one (non military) that has any level of encryption at all or really even authentication...

The first good drone that runs something like the Google Android that is going to be for ultra low energy use for smart watches, etc that is suppose to be coming out this summer... or something similar will probably be the first reasonably priced drone with any decent encryption, let alone tinkering

Re:If only it were possible to do challenge/respon (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#46681465)

arducopter + android otg.

pretty cheap and you can build anything you want to it, security etc.

but most importantly have the failsafe mode to not crash down straight like a rock.

Re:If only it were possible to do challenge/respon (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681733)

That sounds like overkill. Why not just send signed commands?

Yeah, right... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680611)

Does this guy work for Microsoft, blaming "the hackers" when he screws up?

Re:Yeah, right... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680907)

oh you ripped on Microsoft! +5 funny!

Sounds like a RC plane not a drone (5, Informative)

whois (27479) | about 6 months ago | (#46680613)

If it's subject to interference caused by someone broadcasting on the same channel and it can't compensate for it by switching channels or in some way authenticate it's control traffic, then it's a poorly designed toy and shouldn't be used commercially.

Reading the article:

"Operators of all unmanned drones used in a commercial capacity are required to be certified.
Neither Mr Abrams nor his business appear on the list of the 92 operators certified nationally."

So it sounds like he should be charged with some form of negligence if that is applicable to Australia. In the US the FAA would also probably be fining him.

Re:Sounds like a RC plane not a drone (5, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | about 6 months ago | (#46680717)

In the US the FAA would also probably be fining him.

Well, that's not entirely clear just this moment. In the now-headed-into-appeals area of Huerta v Pirker, it kinda looks like the FAA doesn't actually have any formal, properly constructed rules in place. Guidance only. Their distinction between recreational and commercial use of the very same RC machines used by the same people in the same place at the very same time is pretty ridiculous - and the administrative law judge handling round one of that case agreed. But the case is still baking.

So, if you dropped your camera drone on someone's head in the US right now, and weren't flying next to an airport or beyond line of site or over 400' ... then the trouble you're in is roughly the same as if you'd hit the same person in the head with a lawn dart or a football. Good ol' fashioned reckless endangerment, having nothing to do with the FAA pe se.

Re:Sounds like a RC plane not a drone (3, Informative)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 6 months ago | (#46680859)

" if you'd hit the same person in the head with a lawn dart ..."

We had Jarts when I was a kid. Never had anyone get hit by one. Now they're banned. Sad.

Re:Sounds like a RC plane not a drone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680729)

In Australia it would be CASA [casa.gov.au] , the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Re:Sounds like a RC plane not a drone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680805)

And CASA is investigating the damn-fooled-accident. [yahoo.com] The competitor is extremely lucky she wasn't killed.

"I have lacerations on my head from the drone and the ambulance crew took a piece of propeller from my head," she said.

Re:Sounds like a RC plane not a drone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680887)

ambulance crew took a piece of propeller from my head

if the piece in question was merely a superficial sliver, they that is an overly dramatic depiction of the incident.

if the piece in question was a substantial object embedded in her head, an "ambulance crew" shouldn't be removing it. it would be stabilized and left in place.

Re:Sounds like a RC plane not a drone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681169)

Ergo, it was a superficial sliver, and the incident is being overly dramatized.

Re:Sounds like a RC plane not a drone (2)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 6 months ago | (#46681011)

I don't think this should be classified as an accident. It appears he breached many safety rules, isn't certified and was using non commercial grade equipment, with so much blatant negligence even if it was a hacker "highly unlikely" then the moron flying it should still be taken to the cleaners and be up on many charges from CASA.

Re:Sounds like a RC plane not a drone (2)

mjwx (966435) | about 6 months ago | (#46681185)

If it's subject to interference caused by someone broadcasting on the same channel and it can't compensate for it by switching channels or in some way authenticate it's control traffic, then it's a poorly designed toy and shouldn't be used commercially.

Reading the article:

"Operators of all unmanned drones used in a commercial capacity are required to be certified.
Neither Mr Abrams nor his business appear on the list of the 92 operators certified nationally."

So it sounds like he should be charged with some form of negligence if that is applicable to Australia. In the US the FAA would also probably be fining him.

Negligence is more heavily punished in Australia than in the US... As such professional indemnity insurance costs a lot over here.

I have no doubt he'll be hearing from CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority), Australia's FAA.

Sounds like this is a dodgy operator who's trying to get an amateurish legal defence started from the word go.

yeah right! (2)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 6 months ago | (#46680621)

"honest sir I didn't crash it, someone took control away from me", firstly Bullshit. secondly it is your drone, you are responsible for it, if you can't secure it then you should not be using it around people.

Re:yeah right! (1, Insightful)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 6 months ago | (#46680841)

Really, this story is just "Some idiot injured someone, and is now lying to try to dodge legal responsibilities." This happens every day; it's just "news" to slashdot because he used the magic word "hack."

Re:yeah right! (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46681109)

And it's a drone that whacked the triathlete. The only thing that doesn't fit well into a /. story is that there's sports outside the e-sports field involved, but, well, you can't have everything.

Now if he fell someone competing in a LOL tournament, that would be the story of the week!

Re:yeah right! (4, Informative)

exomondo (1725132) | about 6 months ago | (#46680925)

secondly it is your drone, you are responsible for it, if you can't secure it then you should not be using it around people.

thirdly, it should not have been flown within 30 meters of another person. [comlaw.gov.au]
fourth (ly?), as it was used in a commercial capacity it should have been certified but neither Mr Abrams nor his business appear on the list of the 92 operators certified nationally. [abc.net.au]

Re:yeah right! (1)

tgv (254536) | about 6 months ago | (#46681479)

Precisely. And the fact that it had happened before, should have made him extra cautious.

Re:yeah right! (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 6 months ago | (#46681641)

"honest sir I didn't crash it, someone took control away from me", firstly Bullshit. secondly it is your drone, you are responsible for it, if you can't secure it then you should not be using it around people.

Heh, you'll see the error of this statement soon. The black-boxes are mandatory in new cars. The cars themselves are hackable. Soon they'll have even more than just "parking assist" and "auto-break" functionality baked right in, we'll have a whole pool of "self driving" input to fudge on the attack surface.

"honest sir I didn't crash my car, someone took control away from me!", firstly everyone knows that's Bullshit. Secondly it is your car, you are responsible for it, if you can't secure it then you should not be using it around people.

I saw this on HAK5. (4, Informative)

jeek (37349) | about 6 months ago | (#46680633)

http://hak5.org/episodes/hak5-... [hak5.org]

Even if you can't issue commands, you can knock out the control chanel.

Re:I saw this on HAK5. (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | about 6 months ago | (#46680745)

not all "drones" are the parrot.

Re:I saw this on HAK5. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680765)

If it was a real drone (not an off-the-shelf toy like the Parrot AR.Drone as most of these cowboy operators use) then it would have a Safe Mode where it flies back to a rally point when it loses its control signal.

Re:I saw this on HAK5. (1)

ausoleil (322752) | about 6 months ago | (#46680797)

Exactly. I guess people should be thankful he hadn't just scored a DJ Phantom II, given the mistakes he made not even related to the so-called hack.

Re:I saw this on HAK5. (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 6 months ago | (#46680933)

It shouldn't matter if you knock out the control channel.
Remote control [anything] should always be set up to fail in a "safe" manner, for various definitions of safe.

Here's a picture of the aftermath, with someone picking up the hexacopter [yimg.com] and its pieces.
The triathlete is on the ground with blood, if you're squeamish about that kind of thing.

Re:I saw this on HAK5. (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 6 months ago | (#46681801)

Even if you can't issue commands, you can knock out the control chanel.

In which case any properly configured even $300 piece of shit drone would go into a programmed failsafe. In a group of really crowded people the sensible programmed failsafe is either to return home to a location or slowly descend, land and disarm.

I bet the pilot either lost control or the device suffered a malfunction and the pilot is doing the "It's everyone's fault except for mine" dance.

Who was responsible? (1)

microcars (708223) | about 6 months ago | (#46680637)

The person that chose to use a "drone" that could be taken over by a mobile phone, and had already experienced "a similar incident" earlier that day.

Re:Who was responsible? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#46680851)

pretty sure wasn't taken over by a mobile phone.
to that you could easily build security into... pretty sure it was just regular rc controller. which makes it irresponsible to use over people.(wifi controlled autonomous altitude etc hold device would be much more responsible to use).

What BS (4, Insightful)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | about 6 months ago | (#46680667)

Modern 2.4GHz RC gear requires a significant level of tech-expertise to "hijack" in the manner suggested.

Occam's Razor has the answer...

Simple mechanical, electrical or operator failure -- nothing more, nothing less.

Too many would-be "drone" operators have scant understanding of the need for a maintenance schedule and proper planning before deploying even the smallest and most lightweight of craft.

The problem is that far to many people buy these things and then treat them as if they'll just keep working forever -- simply charge the battery and fly!

Unfortunately, props fatigue, motor bearings wear, ESCs can overheat and flight controllers can fail.

There's a hell of a lot more to safely deploying one of these craft than flipping a few switches and wiggling some sticks.

I'm not a commercial operator -- I fly for fun but even *I* am very much aware of the importance of good housekeeping and planning when it comes to using these things safely.

Re:What BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680689)

So. The hackers worked for the NSA? Should I use that for my next excuse? Er, possible scenario?

Re:What BS (1)

ComputersKai (3499237) | about 6 months ago | (#46680849)

Aliens! [bit.ly]

Re:What BS (0)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#46680917)

So, you didn't read the article did you.

Re:What BS (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about 6 months ago | (#46681669)

You didn't either. His points weren't in the article, but weren't contradicted by it either.

Re:What BS (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 6 months ago | (#46681823)

The problem is that far to many people buy these things and then treat them as if they'll just keep working forever

Most drones won't take two trips in the air without screws falling out of the airframe.

And does Mr. Abrams carry insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680669)

He's in business, he has some liability exposure, a "reasonable person" could foresee the possibility of a UAV failure resulting in injury to a participant. Yep, he's in a world of hurt.

Re:And does Mr. Abrams carry insurance (1)

Billlagr (931034) | about 6 months ago | (#46681029)

Unlicensed business...soooo I'm taking a guess that any insurance he may have had, will be well and truly null and void..

Laughable CYA Maneuver (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 6 months ago | (#46680685)

I don't buy that excuse for a second. But let's say, for the sake of argument, that he's right. That means he was using cheeseball home entertainment mall kiosk grade equipment. Nobody doing for-real media coverage of a sporting event and intending to fly over people's heads is going to be using anything that could possibly be so easily "taken over." If nothing else, the drone should have a good enough flight controller to allow it to realize that something is swamping the RF control side, and have it climb to a previously identified altitude, and maneuver back over the spot from which it took off, then to make a nice gentle decent and landing. This is vanilla COTS stuff, now, with even inexpensive FCs. The good ones - which any pro should be using, and which cost more like $1k - are really good at high speed frequency hopping and only paying attention to the controller to which they're bound.

Basically, this clown sounds completely negligent.

Re:Laughable CYA Maneuver (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | about 6 months ago | (#46680757)

actually most of the equipment people have can be taken over, its not trivial tho. basically all that "1k" stuff which is channel hopping isn't encrypted or anything. if you find the hop algorithm, which is often not that hard, you can indeed control the aircraft.

Re:Laughable CYA Maneuver (1)

grep -v '.*' * (780312) | about 6 months ago | (#46680821)

Completely agree. From the article:

Mr Abrams' company, New Era Photography and Film, was contracted to record the event. Operators of all unmanned drones used in a commercial capacity are required to be certified. Neither Mr Abrams nor his business appear on the list of the 92 operators certified nationally.

So: "Oops! I got caught doing something I shouldn't have -- let's see how I can get out of it."

The guys mugshot [chzbgr.com] and a recording [youtube.com] .

Although that being said, we also like to gripe when government seems to intrude too much. The trick is: how much, and who decides?

Re:Laughable CYA Maneuver (1)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | about 6 months ago | (#46680893)

The guy's obviously a jackoff with a toy quadcopter who shouldn't be flying it over peoples' heads.

Forget $1k setups, even a properly-configured $100 Chinese flight controller would've RTL'd when he lost control. There's absolutely no excuse.

Sadly, no one in the media is going to make note of the fact that this guy is a jackoff, so it's just "Some schmuck with a commercial drone injures athlete, story at 11!" and the rest of us are-- once again --one step closer to being branded terrorists or something.

He probably believes it; he's probably wrong (5, Funny)

harryjohnston (1118069) | about 6 months ago | (#46680741)

Reminds me of a student, many years ago, who told me very seriously that hackers regularly broke into his home computer to mess with him. The evidence? Visual Studio (IIRC) kept changing between "inserting characters" and "overwriting characters" when he typed.

I asked if he might be accidentally hitting the Insert key. He had no idea what the Insert key did.

To his credit, when I explained, he acknowledged that this might have been the cause and perhaps there weren't any hackers in his computer after all.

Re:He probably believes it; he's probably wrong (4, Funny)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 6 months ago | (#46680881)

After that, you erased all traces of your invasion, and left his computer alone?

Re:He probably believes it; he's probably wrong (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#46680921)

He was looking for the "Any" key

The Pilot Was Far Out Of His Depth (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680769)

Multicopter pilot here. In short, it looks like the pilot was a hobbyist out of his depth and was performing dangerous maneuvers before any so-called hacking with equipment not meant for the job.

I don't know a lot about the specifics of the accident, but the multicopter that was involved in the accident was using a very outmoded form of technology to control the multicopter (wifi) rather than the far more reliable multichannel failsafe 2.4GHz DSMX systems that are in common use with bigger multicopters. While it may be possible to "hack" the signals controlling the 'copter, it's more likely that the control loss was due to RF interference, either by purpose or accident. I would imagine that a sporting event such as the one where the incident occurred would be awash in wifi signals from dozens if not hundreds of sources.

Secondly, the multicopter pilot was doing something that experienced pilots / cinematographers strongly avoid: flying directly over people. Even the best control systems and multicopters can malfunction, and hovering over a crowd is obviously a bad place for that to happen.

The type of multicopter also gives away the apparent lack of skills or experience of the pilot. Parrot AR 'copters are not professional-grade equipment and they are not devices that someone who earns a good bit of money from aerial filming would use.

Re:The Pilot Was Far Out Of His Depth (0)

Jack Griffin (3459907) | about 6 months ago | (#46680979)

Multicopter pilot here.

You seriously call yourself that?

the multicopter that was involved in the accident was using a very outmoded form of technology to control the multicopter (wifi) rather than the far more reliable multichannel failsafe 2.4GHz DSMX systems that are in common use with bigger multicopters.

It's all wi-fi. Fancy wi-fi may more reliable than crap wi-fi, but it's still all wi-fi, and it all has a range which when you go past, you still lose control.

Re:The Pilot Was Far Out Of His Depth (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681051)

It's not all wifi, unless you're just using wifi to refer to anything that's 2.4Ghz...

Re:The Pilot Was Far Out Of His Depth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681609)

Same frequency as wifi, different protocol, or atleast should be. 2.4GHZ RC transmitters have been known to interfere with other devices on the same frequency. They usually transmit at a higher power level.

Re:The Pilot Was Far Out Of His Depth (2)

Alioth (221270) | about 6 months ago | (#46681969)

Unless it specifically says WiFi, it's not WiFi and not even remotely like WiFi. Most 2.4GHz radio control gear is quite different to WiFi. It doesn't use ethernet packets or the ethernet protocol, it uses modulation and packet protocols that are specifically designed for real-time radio control. Unlike WiFi it is designed purely for point to point with one end a transmitter and the other end a receiver (not bidirectional) and with only one transmitter and one receiver bound to each other at any one time. Short of jamming the entire frequency band it's not trivial to take over something like Spektrum DSMII (certainly a lot more difficult than WiFi since to bind a receiver to a transmitter requires a physical programming step using a programming 'plug').

Re:The Pilot Was Far Out Of His Depth (1)

felixrising (1135205) | about 6 months ago | (#46681601)

Errr.. How do you know its "wifi"? Can you even buy a wifi controller for a DJI Flamewheel F550 with a Naza FC? I think not. He was probably running Spektrum trash DSMX or DSM2 stuff, which has no telemetry link and hence not really what you want to be using for anything UAV related. Of course, that doesn't stop a lot of people going out and wasting their money on that overpriced junk. As I anonymously posted further down (forgot to log in), chances are either the Naza FC did what they are known for, and did a "fly away", or as you mentioned, the RF interference at the event was very high and either screwed with the Spek-trash control link or the GPS (~1.5GHz) got screwed up which is necessary for DJI Naza flight control (unless the pilot had enough experience to pilot the craft in manual mode - which I doubt - not really something a DJI Naza "pilot" prides himself on) or it was just another DJI Naza fly-away... of course maybe the battery ran out, a screw came loose, a prop broke, or any number of other common problems... but I'm putting my money on control link failure or GPS failure due to RF interference at the event.

Re:The Pilot Was Far Out Of His Depth (1)

felixrising (1135205) | about 6 months ago | (#46681667)

Sorry for replying to myself... Want to see what a "pro grade" DJI A2 (Formerly A2M) Controller does when GPS lock is bad? https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] Enjoy.

Indicted? (0)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 6 months ago | (#46680809)

No, Mr. Abrams, the investigation hasn't indicted [reference.com] anything. It indicated that somebody might have taken control of the drone away from you. I don't know if that's actually the word you used or if whoever wrote the story is to blame, but in either case, the Slashdot editors would have caught this if they were actually doing their job of editing the submissions. Why they haven't been replaced by people who know the difference between using a spelling checker and doing proper proof reading to catch misused words is something that only the PHBs at Dice can answer.

A likely story (5, Insightful)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 6 months ago | (#46680813)

I have been flying model airplanes for 50ish years now, and in that time, I have never ever heard of any RC pilot crashing due to pilot error. In every single case, it was "radio failure"

Re:A likely story (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 6 months ago | (#46680945)

Thats the same kind of person who blaems typos on there keyboard.

... badabom (2)

emj (15659) | about 6 months ago | (#46681233)

Thats the same kind of person who blaems typos on there keyboard.

I see what you did their!

Re:A likely story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680993)

Or maybe someone was shining a laser pointer at it.

Re:A likely story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681853)

Maybe I'll burn out your retinas with a laser and see if you still think it's funny.

Re:A likely story (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 6 months ago | (#46680997)

I saw that. It's like when people run into trees in their cars and say the tree hit them.

Re:A likely story (1)

sidevans (66118) | about 6 months ago | (#46681017)

I flew an RC plane once, I can tell you it didn't crash because of "radio failure", it was 100% pilot error

Re:A likely story (2)

gmhowell (26755) | about 6 months ago | (#46681209)

In an unrelated story, there are no guilty men in jail.

Pilot Made Multiple Errors, "Hacking" Claim Is BS (5, Insightful)

ausoleil (322752) | about 6 months ago | (#46680815)

Multicopter pilot here. In short, it looks like the pilot was a hobbyist out of his depth and was performing dangerous maneuvers before any so-called hacking with equipment not meant for the job.

I don't know a lot about the specifics of the accident, but the multicopter that was involved in the accident was using a very outmoded form of technology to control the multicopter (wifi) rather than the far more reliable multichannel failsafe 2.4GHz DSMX systems that are in common use with bigger multicopters. While it may be possible to "hack" the signals controlling the 'copter, it's more likely that the control loss was due to RF interference, either by purpose or accident. I would imagine that a sporting event such as the one where the incident occurred would be awash in wifi signals from dozens if not hundreds of sources.

Secondly, the multicopter pilot was doing something that experienced pilots / cinematographers strongly avoid: flying directly over people. Even the best control systems and multicopters can malfunction, and hovering over a crowd is obviously a bad place for that to happen.

The type of multicopter also gives away the apparent lack of skills or experience of the pilot. Parrot AR 'copters are not professional-grade equipment and they are not devices that someone who earns a good bit of money from aerial filming would use.

(note: apologies for a double post, I forgot to log in to post this reply.)

Re:Pilot Made Multiple Errors, "Hacking" Claim Is (1)

Jack Griffin (3459907) | about 6 months ago | (#46680991)

Multicopter pilot here.

You seriously call yourself that?

the multicopter that was involved in the accident was using a very outmoded form of technology to control the multicopter (wifi) rather than the far more reliable multichannel failsafe 2.4GHz DSMX systems that are in common use with bigger multicopters.

It's all wi-fi. Fancy wi-fi may more reliable than crap wi-fi, but it's still all wi-fi, and it all has a range which when you go past, you still lose control.

(note: apologies for a double post, I forgot to log in to post this reply.)

Deja vu...

Re:Pilot Made Multiple Errors, "Hacking" Claim Is (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681089)

Wifi is very much different from the 2.4GHz radios typical RC flyers use these days.

Wifi can trivially be knocked out accidentally by a cell phone's mobile hotspot. The interfering signal doesn't even have to be stronger than the normal control signal to cause problems.

A FHSS based 2.4GHz cannot fail in this way. It doesn't stay on one frequency long enough for interference on that frequency to matter. The amount of power required to take out the entire band makes it an impractical way to take the drone out. You'd have better luck if you deliberately hit either the aircraft or the transmitter with a strong enough signal to overwhelm the antenna. The equipment required to do that isn't generally sold. It'd have to be custom built.

So if he really was using a wifi based remote, he had no business operating it near people.

Even if he was using the interference resistant FHSS remote, you never fly it close enough to people for a failure to allow it to fall into them. Those things have a lot of fairly fragile parts and almost no redundancy. If you aren't really thorough on your preflight check, you will eventually have a catastrophic failure (either in the form of a fly away or sudden uncontrolled descent).

Re:Pilot Made Multiple Errors, "Hacking" Claim Is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681111)

Another possibility that I just thought of now... Perhaps his video transmitter was also 2.4GHz. If you put those two antennas a couple inches away, that'd easily have enough power to desensitize the control antenna. If the video transmitter were enabled in the air, rather than continuously running, he'd immediately lose control as soon as it switched on.

It's NOT WiFi ! (1)

Ozoner (1406169) | about 6 months ago | (#46681291)

What are you talking about? 2.4GHz DSMX model control gear is NOT WiFi!

Who's the idiot then?

Re:It's NOT WiFi ! (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 6 months ago | (#46681705)

WiFi is a common way to refer to ISM wireless of any kind. Proprietary wireless printer (non 802.11) is called "WiFi", as is bluetooth. 802.11n is a technical term. WiFi is a meaningless marketing term. 2.4GHz DSMX is WiFi, if the 2.4 spectrum it uses is in the ISM band.

Re:It's NOT WiFi ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681841)

So because other people are wrong, the people who are right are the ones who are wrong?

Re:It's NOT WiFi ! (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 6 months ago | (#46681919)

Yes. That's the way language works. When most people think a word means something, then people who insist on using it incorrectly are incorrect. Like "broadband". A 19.6k modem is broadband, and 100 Gbps isn't, at least as per the "original" definition. But now, "broadband" equals "fast". And no insistence by anyone on using the "original" definition will be met with blank stares and resistance.

I'm telling you what it means, whether you choose to accept reality is your choice, not mine.

Re:Pilot Made Multiple Errors, "Hacking" Claim Is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681069)

I don't think it's a Parrot AR, doesn't look much like one in this shot:
http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/22435997/triathlete-injured-in-drone-incident/

Re:Pilot Made Multiple Errors, "Hacking" Claim Is (1)

felixrising (1135205) | about 6 months ago | (#46681607)

It's a DJI F550 Flamewheel... hence most like a DJI Naza Flight Controller... and I'd put money on it using a Spetrum DSM2 or DSMX control link (no telemetry, no RSSI feedback).

channel hopping? (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 6 months ago | (#46680879)

Even most wireless mice these days don't channel hop and they cost like $20 tops. Channel hopping isn't even hacking. I'm pretty sure it's extremely analog in most cases. And if he built a device with no authorization codes or encryption, he's an idiot...except he's obviously just lying out his ass about it all.

Only person to blame is the operator (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46680891)

Everyone in the RC community knows that you don't fly over people. You simply don't do it. It's dangerous and things fail all the time. These fucktards that persist to do so should not be allowed anywhere near this equipment.

Also why is this called a UAV, if it was an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle it wouldn't have fallen out of the sky.

As a pilot, you are ALWAYS responsible (5, Insightful)

Jinker (133372) | about 6 months ago | (#46681005)

While learning to fly full scale airplanes it was drilled into me over and over, it is *always* the pilot/operators responsibility.

You either screwed up, or failed to ensure you were using reliable equipment, or failed to account for uncertainties in how you operate it.

Running what is essentially hobby hardware (radios, speed controls, batteries etc.) over top of people is just plain irresponsible.

"Oh, but I haven't crashed before."

Yeah, until you do.

Hacked? (2)

dozr (70892) | about 6 months ago | (#46681117)

So apparently when I switched the channel on my walkie talkie I was hacking, damn I am such a bad ass.

Unlicensed... Not quite... (1, Offtopic)

vk2tds (175334) | about 6 months ago | (#46681325)

Hi All

Australia does not have any unlicensed spectrum, at least not between 9 KHz and almost to daylight. 2.4 GHz is a licensed frequency, covered by what is called a Class License. This provides the ability for equipment that meets the technical requirements to be automatically licensed. One of the requirements of the Class License, as noted by the ACMA (www.acma.gov.au), is that you must accept any interference from other parties.

What this means is that you cannot require anyone to not operate on the same frequency as you. They can use their own transmitters, and you cannot stop them. If they want to use a wireless video sender on the same frequency, wiping you out, this is not an issue.

This is why major sporting events stay away from unlicensed frequencies as much as possible. During the Sydney Olympics, I had six helicopters for TV coverage. Video signals were all on licensed frequencies in the 2.5 and 5 GHz ranges, and GPS tracking, telemetry and communications was in the 520 MHz range. Cell phone devices were not used, and are still mostly not used due to frequency congestion. As an aside, during a test, we used telemetry frequency a few MHz lower, but found the GPS was not working well. Turns out 3 x frequency + IF frequency was slap bang in the middle of the GPS transmissions.

Darryl

Responsibility is no question. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681393)

The operator of the device was aware of the vulnerability, and has observed a similar accident earlier. He is responsible for flying something he knows he cannot control.

Operator is screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681457)

Apparently the drone was operated by "New Era Photography and Film" which does not appear to have an AOC (Air Operators Certificate) which is required by CASA to perform commercial UAV operations. This, combined with the fact they failed to follow the 30m separation rule, means this operators is pretty well fucked regardless of what caused it.

Re:Operator is screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681557)

The guy wasn't being commercially engaged, he was volunteering, so the commercial constraints don't apply. The other regulations around use of a RC craft and proximity to the public however do apply - The craft cannot be closer than 30 meters from spectators, however the operator can be closer than 30 meters, with the spectators/public behind him.

Another DJI fool? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46681517)

What a moron.

For a start, it appears he was flying a DJI F550 probably with a DJI Naza flight controller... do a search for "naze fly-aways" and you'll come up with a impressive number of hits.. DJI Naza are known for suddenly going out of control ie "developing a mind of their own", they have a reputation for it within the UAV/multi-rotor community.

Secondly, someone "channel hopped" him? What a moron! Way to spread FUD of "hacking drones" amongst the public. Chances are he'd never tried flying it anywhere near high powered TV transmission equipment before, probably using a overpriced Spektrum DX7 or 8 or similar RC remote that has no telemetry feedback such as link health (RSSI).

Anyway, he already got far more attention that he should have and morons like that are already doing enough damage to the multi-rotor/uav community.

Maybe he just isn't a very good pilot (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46681587)

Warren can also fly but admits he’ll never be able to manipulate the controls as well as a younger person.

http://www.sciencewa.net.au/to... [sciencewa.net.au]

Or more likely... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 6 months ago | (#46682029)

The Drone owner was too stupid to understand 2.4ghz and there is a strong signal source nearby. If you fly big drones and dont have a WiSpy and a laptop to check the area for heavy 2.4ghz interference (that is what RC plane controls operate on now) then you need to be liable for all damages due to being stupid.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?