Apple Inc. doesn’t want you flying drones over its campus — which means the days of those sweet drone videos of the iPhone maker’s spaceship-like headquarters may be over.
Drone pilot Duncan Sinfield, who has been producing videos about twice a month that give aerial-tour updates of the progress of construction at Apple Park, said his videos may be coming to an end.
During recent flights, Apple’s security team has been catching him flying his drone and subsequently asking him to leave, according to a post on Sinfield’s YouTube account Monday.
“Security at Apple Park generally responds in two white Prius’s to my precise take-off locations in 10 minutes or less,” Sinfield wrote. “As always, I respect all requests by Apple Security to land my drone and leave the area when asked to do so.”
“My instincts tell me that Apple is tracking all drones in the vicinity of the campus with sophisticated radio frequency technology from companies such as Dedrone,” Sinfield added.
Dedrone uses sensors, including RF/WiFi scanners, microphones and cameras to collect data and determine whether or not a drone is in a certain area, as well as analyze its flight path and the type of drone. From there, it can also analyze where the pilot is located (drones like the DJI Phantom are capable of flying about a mile away from the operator, so without technology like Dedrone’s, it is otherwise difficult to find the pilot).
A spokeswoman for Dedrone told MarketWatch that she could not confirm or deny whether Apple was a customer, due to confidentiality. Dedrone’s past customers have included the PGA Tour and the Golden State Warriors.
Other anti-drone companies that have models similar to Dedrone’s include SkySafe, which creates technology to disable drones from flying. SkySafe, which last year closed an $11.5 million Series A funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, has a $1.5 million contract with the Department of Defense to provide mobile counter-drone systems to U.S. Navy special warfare units.
It is a federal crime to shoot down a drone — even if it’s flying over your own private property — but tracking the drone in an attempt to find and confront the pilot is legal.
Apple AAPL, +1.35% is not the first company to have drones flying over its property. Tesla Inc. TSLA, -1.22% has observed drones in its airspace over Fremont, Calif., capturing footage and production information. Other drone videos posted to YouTube show aerial footage over secretive data centers of WalMart Stores Inc. WMT, +1.24% and Facebook Inc. FB, +2.28% .
But while companies could see it as a problem, the internet seems to have come to Sinfield’s defense.
Apple security should stop giving this guy a hard time. This is the best recruitment ad I’ve ever seen to go work for Apple. https://t.co/inwfmExd8G
— Marco Arment (@marcoarment) April 16, 2018
It has been really great seeing his work. We got to see #Applepark in a way we never would have otherwise.
Sinfield’s videos are shot typically by DJI products, including the DJI Inspire 1 drone, which can be purchased for between $1,000 and $2,000 on sites like Amazon.com AMZN, +4.20% or Best Buy BBY, +1.30% . DJI is a Chinese drone manufacturer whose products include the wildly popular Mavic Pro and Phantom drones, both of which can cost less than $1,000.
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