DJI to firmware fix Inspire crashes caused by the IMU

Firmware fixes in themselves are not normally newsworthy, this week might be an exception, as the DJI Inspire which hasn’t even made it to many of those that ordered it, is already due to have its second firmware fix.

If you’ve followed multicopter groups on Twitter or Facebook you will have already seen the recent incident with the Inspire where it crashed into a garage in an automatic take off, in an unusual move DJI accepted responsibility on a post on RC Groups, it’s been suggested that this is the first time DJI have truly acknowledged a bug and said sorry, in the past bug fixes have been called enhancements.

The eyes of many in the multicopter industry have been on DJI’s new Inspire 1, for a number of reasons, DJI are the market leader and the Inspire is an unusual quadcopter for a number of reasons. The physical design of the Inspire 1 is fairly unique and it fills a different part of the marketplace, it’s what you would deem prosumer/semi-pro, it has a premium price without being so expensive that it’s out of reach of the enthusiast. The S800/S900/S1000 with their need for a Zenmuse gimbal and camera such as a GH4 for many were out of reach.

The price point of the Inspire brings with it the dilemma, for an enthusiast it’s simply too expensive to crash or have fly-away without bringing tears to your eyes, with a lack of affordable insurance for the hobbyist flyer, reliability and after sales support is a paramount concern. In a further break from the norm, the Inspire 1 is not considered user serviceable, so in the event of a crash DJI does not want the owner making repairs, tamper proof warranty seals prevent any attempts without invalidating the warranty, even something as trivial as a motor replacement appears to be forbidden.

A quadcopter that is not user serviceable puts the onus on DJI to provide after sales support, something DJI are infamous for not providing so that has made any incident with the Inspire all the more interesting, in the United States DJI thus far has stepped up to the challenge, having service staff on hand and having turned around at least one crashed Inspire in around 1 week, but it came with a familiar DJI twist, the user was told to keep the cost (or lack of) confidential and not to post it on the internet. Clearly DJI are still uncomfortable and seem unsure themselves what their level of support is, for example, we’d argue given the Inspire has telemetry so every incident can be examined, that if a crash occurs as a result of a firmware or hardware issue then it should be repaired for free, but DJI might not be willing to show that level of fairness for customers if incidents are commonplace. There’s also the lack of a uniform approach by DJI across the globe, the experience of European consumers seems to fall far short of that in the US, no one has gone public about a crash in Europe to judge if this problem has been addressed.

It’s been a challenging few days for DJI, user reports are still coming in with issues around the Inspire 1, there are videos posted with jello, whilst there are some videos where it’s not evident, there are claims props have broken in flight and one case reported on Twitter in the UK where it was claimed the camera came off in flight, other than the IMU fault which DJI has acknowledged it is unclear yet what issues are exceptional one offs and which are trends.

The questions are did DJI rush the Inspire to try and meet the Christmas sales window, could more QA have been done and should firmware releases be necessary so soon after release?  We’ll leave you to answer those questions, meanwhile you can read our general thoughts on software QA here…

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