DJI is investigating after a small number of user reported unexplained Spark crashes. On the company’s online forum, a handful of users have reported that they lost control of the drone while using the gesture controls or the mobile app, causing Spark fly-aways and crashes.
“DJI is aware of a small number of reports involving Spark drones that have lost power mid-flight,” a DJI spokesperson told Digital Trends. “Flight safety and product reliability are top priorities. Our engineers are thoroughly reviewing each customer case and working to address this matter urgently. DJI products are tested for thousands of hours, and the overwhelming number of customers enjoy using our products with minimal disruption.”
The company says they will be adding additional safeguards through a firmware update at a later date, which can be installed through the DJI Go 4 app.
One user says that the drone was in tracking mode when it suddenly flew away and crashed to the ground. After three hours of searching, the drone was recovered, allowing access to the flight data and the video of the fly-away:
Another user reported the Spark losing power midflight and falling to the ground while the user was operating the drone with the iPhone app.
While it’s unclear if the DJI Spark fly-away issue is confined to a few faulty units, or even if the problem is a result of user error, DJI is investigating. On one forum, a DJI official encourages users who experience the problem to send the company the flight log for analysis.
DJI’s small drone has been well received, with reviewers impressed at the Twinkie-sized drone’s flight performance, intelligent flight modes, and obstacle avoidance. While small drones tend to be more difficult to control, the Spark’s reliability during a two-week test has the drone slated as one of the best options for beginners.
If DJI does in fact find a hardware or software error is to blame, the Spark wouldn’t be the first compact drone to experience issues. GoPro recalled its first drone, the Karma, shortly after launch because several units lost power and fell out of the air. The issue happened to be a simple fix that could have actually been temporarily done with duct-tape — the battery didn’t fit properly and could lose connection in a rough flight — and the drone is now back on the market.
Fly-aways are a common issue with unmanned aerial vehicles, often caused by losing connection with the controller, though other factors like electromagnetic interference can also play a role. DJI’s drones use several different safeguards designed to help in such an issue, including setting a home point, which the drone will automatically return to if the connection with the controller is lost.
Update: DJI shared an official statement on the issue, which is now included above.