Drones have transformed numerous sectors, including agriculture, logistics, emergency response, and situational awareness. However, their widespread availability has also given rise to a concurrent trend where enthusiasts and, unfortunately, malicious actors engage in modifying these uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) to extend their operational capabilities to the limits. This often involves bypassing built-in safety features, posing a risk for unauthorised and potentially harmful purposes.
These modifications vary, encompassing enhancements such as increasing the communication protocol range, deactivating default navigation lights, and removing restrictions such as altitude limits or disabling no-fly zone restrictions. Addressing and mitigating these potential threats require an advanced comprehension of both drone technology and the intricacies of open-source hardware and firmware modifications.
In the video example below which were obtained from YouTube, in the left video, a DJI Mini 3 Pro is seen to fly to an altitude of 2508m which is 8,228ft, clearly bypassing any restrictive onboard safety limits. Although the location has not been verified, the general legal altitude for drones is 400ft.
In the second right hand video, again with a DJI Mini 3 Pro with the FCC hack, the drone is seen to fly at a distance of 4km from the operator. This video is purportedly from the UK.