Back in May, we talked about a bill currently progressing through the US House of Representatives called H.R. 2864, probably more commonly referred to by its short title of "Countering CCP Drones Act." 

The language of the bill specifically targets Shenzhen DaJiang Innovations Sciences and Technologies Company Limited, also more commonly called DJI Technologies. In other words, one company in specific, as well as "any subsidiary or affiliate thereof," to quote the bill directly.

The bill, taken together with the related H.R. 820 (also called the Foreign Adversary Communications Transparency Act), specifically targets DJI due to questionable and arguably unequally-applied concerns that proponents say are about both cyber- and national security, but which seem to have more to do with prevailing and increasing geopolitical tensions than anything else. TL;DR and grossly oversimplified version: The US government is mad at China, so it's taking whatever action it can, whether you (the people) like it or not.

An important deadline for the Countering CCP Drones Act is coming up later this week, as the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee has included it in its FY 2025 National Defense Authorization Act. It's scheduled to be taken under consideration by a committee on June 12, 2024, which is two days away as I write this.

Drone users and enthusiasts at all levels have been all too aware of the state of play for months now as this legislation has advanced. We're talking about a ban not only on future sales and operation of DJI drones, but also one that could retroactively ground existing consumer and industrial drones if they were made by DJI, simply by revoking their Federal Communications Commission approvals.

Because this legislation could have major implications both for users and for untold numbers of workers in the drone industry in the US, a longtime player in the drone field has been working behind the scenes to take action. Randall Warnas launched a new company, Anzu Robotics, in April 2024. His previous drone industry history includes stints with FLiR Systems, DJI, and as CEO of Autel Robotics. 

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Anzu's first two models, the Raptor and Raptor T, initially drew eagle-eyed observers to note striking similarities to the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise and Mavic 3 Enterprise Thermal once they first appeared in the FCC database ahead of their release.

There's a very good reason for that. Anzu officially licensed its drone hardware technology from DJI. Although Anzu is an American company that stresses that it has no ties other than a completely normal, average business licensing agreement for some of DJI's hardware with that company, it says that it recognized the strength of DJI's tech, but wanted to create something that existing users in the US who might be left out in the cold by a coming DJI ban could use instead.

So, the drones use licensed hardware that's already familiar to many users, combined with software developed by the US-based firm Aloft. According to Warnas, they've been busy since April 2024 with having a third-party penetration testing firm try its hardest to crack that software. If flaws exist, it wants to find them and fix them; not hide them, Warnas told the drone industry podcast PiXL Drone Show.

Now, if you're getting excited at the prospect of familiar DJI-based drones that comply with whatever bans Congress votes to put in place, not so fast. While the two Anzu models aren't as expensive as some drones, they're also not cheap. They cost between $1,500 and $2,000 more than the DJI versions, and are aimed more at government entities than your tech-obsessed Uncle Henry. 

According to the PiXL Drone Show interview, Warnas also said that if Anzu succeeds, he doesn't see it venturing into the consumer drone space anytime soon. So if you're waiting for a similar potential solution on that front, this likely won't be the direction it comes from.

We'll have to see what happens if Congress acts and bans the company, but Anzu could be the potential savior for the industry. So long as it adopts a more consumer-based customer base. 

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