3DRobotics temporarily stops shipments outside of US and Canada


I have received the following email from 3DRobotics last night, my Iris quadocopter was already in France, at Fedex office for a delivery at home on monday. 3DRobotics say they cancel my order and will refund me, rhis mean they will ask Fedex to send back to product to the US, why such a decision for all customers ? Why cancelling a shipement when the parcel is nearly at your home ?

Here is the email I have received from 3DR


Thanks for your order with 3DR. We're writing to let you know that, due to a temporary change in our shipping policies, we're unable to ship orders outside of the US and Canada. We'll be cancelling and refunding your order immediately. We're very sorry for the inconvenience, and we'll let you know when we can resume shipments to your country.

If you have any questions or would like to make modifications to your order, write to us at help@3drobotics.com or call our support line at +1 (858) 225-1414, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm PST.


The 3DR Team
************************************************** *******************

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Could the ban on UAVs export in the US be because of this article


 The FAA trying to get grips on UAV's being sold and exported.

Why order from US when there are plenty of chinese clones out there. Guess who a export ban would help.

@Drone-University.com:  While what was in that article may very well be what is behind 3DRs action, it is still speculation.  AND, if it is, then why couldn't 3DR simply have said so?  

its now done by http://www.bis.doc.gov/ the bureau of Industry and Security..  the secret sauce in this case is the APM software which carries the SAME rights of publication as PGP did.

While the Gov has moved these unconstitutional regulations 3 times since 1991 and the thrust has always been the same severely limit cryptographic and dual use software. 

All US persons are supposedly subject to its authority..

DJ Bernstein WON against these unconsitutional regs while in others cases such as PGP unlawful harassment and eventual dropping of the case was the result.

Domiciling OFFSHORE the IP in this case and licensing the IP(GPL or RFC publication(open specifications) suffices) back to a US Corp is the traditional way to solve the issue with all development offshore and predominantly with non US persons.

Seems paranoid I know but its how the crypto wars were brought to a draw.


ps ordered a case of HEAVY gauge tin foil in... :)

wondering if we have seen the other foot drop... the FAA having BIS make a ITAR/Dual Use stoppage on 3DR is the fastest way to bring domestic drone industry to a stop, Dual Use and or IP infringement can be used to effect IMPORT bans to the US also, ie certain military gear can NOT be imported in any condition etc even demilled..

As to 3DR NOT saying anything..

come on guys give them a break here..

the 3DR lawyers have clearly stepped in and are forbidding any statement that they have not cleared..

(I hope they have good ones)


"FAA need to get a grip"
What about laser pointers. Arguably more risk to pilots. There are some other issues. bird Strikes are serious, but you have how many birds? There's a whole flock. I'm not saying people should fly near airports, but just asking for a measure of risk assessment be applied.

The export ban seems to be some gov knee jerk reaction that hasn't realized that the movement of government to a globalized economy is now actually a reality. (R&D team in San Diego, with manufacturing between Mexico and China. Software developed in large part Japan, Australia and elsewhere.)

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2174983/JetBlue-pilots-eye-...



I am wondering about the timing of all this.  Without feeding the conspiracy theories... I just want to know "why now"?  Did something particular set it off?  Or this case just finally popped to the top of the pile on some bureaucrat's desk after 3DR has been in operation for 3+ years?

Are the restrictions at Sparkfun new as well?  Or have those been in place for some time?  What about the two clone vendors in the US, will they suffer the same restriction?  Seems unfair if not.  I hope they don't get to fly under the radar just because they're small and don't do a single thing to actually develop the technology.  (see what I did there ;) 

It seems unlikely that this would benefit the FAA, since these systems are still available in the US.  

The whole thing seems to be a misapplication of an old law that is no longer relevant.  In the 90's, this technology was not widely available, and export restrictions made sense.  But today, it's pointless.  The software is open source.  Even if they locked it down now, it's in the wild.  There are companies in China already making these boards.  And it could conceivably be made to run on any smartphone hardware.

And if you consider the actual history of the use of technology... it would make more sense to have an ITAR ban on the export of pressure cookers than UAV's.  Many civilians and soldiers have been killed by pressure cooker bombs.  But AFIAK, not a single one has been hurt by a UAV attack.


I can speak to your question about export restrictions on UDB sold by SparkFun.

Approximately 5 years ago I was notified by the US DoD that they considered UDB and ArduPilot to be export controlled. I passed along the information to Chris. I think his impression was the restrictions did not apply to him, because of manufacturing location. Since then, Chris and I have exchanged a few emails on the subject.

I also told SparkFun about it 5 years ago. Nothing happened for a while, SparkFun forgot about it, I think. A couple of years ago I got a reminder from the FBI that UDB needed to be export control. SparkFun started the process in earnest. It took about 2 years for them to finish the process because of delays at both ends of the process. In the meantime, they continued to ship UDBs. I am not sure exactly when SparkFun finished up, I think it was early this year.

Best regards,

Bill Premerlani

What I happens I wonder with all the stuff coming in? Could I sell a Phantom bought in the USA to outside of the USA.

Hi Bill, thanks for the response.

So, does this restriction only apply to hardware sales?  What about those of us contributing to the code, or UAV systems engineering that ends up being "shipped" outside the country?  My understanding at this point is that is not an issue?

Furthermore to the point that this whole situation is just general silliness... it's like these laws were written back in the day when the US was actually the leader of high technology, particularly in fields like this.  But these days, DJI is leading the low-cost UAV field, and they are based in China.  They have no problem with export controls (apparently).  They may be lacking a few features that Ardupilot has, but they certainly could add them if they wanted to.  The reason they don't is pretty much just market strategy.  It's just a business decision to not include waypoints on the Phantom.  They already have it on the A2.

So, now how did it come to pass that a Chinese company would become the leader in developing high-technology low-cost equipment like this? Exactly BECAUSE of restrictive regulations in the US, like this one now affecting 3DR!  

Here's a fun question:  Are US vendors of Chinese-made DJI equipment suffering export restrictions?  


If 3DR have indeed been instructed to stop sending their products overseas, I doubt that they will be too worried about it, as they have a home market in the U.S. and Canada which they will continue to serve – and if anything I wouldn’t be surprised if this “glitch” has increased their sales in those markets. I imagine they will make an announcement regretfully informing their overseas customers of this new development and reassure them that they will be implementing procedures to allow for export applications to be processed in the future, blah blah blah.

It needs to be remembered that 3DR is a separate commercial entity, independent to DIYDrones, with interests in commercialising open source products, and at this stage, it's probable 3DR has been asked nicely by a US agency to comply with export regulations.

Many in the DIYDrones community may argue that the community is open source and contributions have been made by individuals from across the world, and that ardupilot and pixhawk should not be export controlled, however this is just naive – export regulations exist, and these ‘products’ being sold by 3DR are subject to those export regulations as 3DR is an American company headquartered in Berkeley.

The discussion about whether ardupilot is subject to export control has been discussed at length in the past. I’m actually quite surprised at some of the responses to this thread as it appears a few people are genuinely unaware of these issues, and probably a reflection on how quickly this community is growing. There used to be a series of DIYDrones podcasts some time ago, and Chris Anderson responding to a question once said that if export regulations were to become a problem with relation to their then growing business of making and selling ardupilots, then they would simply move to Mexico. Only on the basis of that comment, I would suggest that as Chris is the CEO of 3DR, that 3DR has always been aware of its export obligations, and has knowingly flouted U.S. export law. So on that basis, I respectfully have no sympathy for 3DR.

On the subject of why would this happen now, well, Chris Anderson has done a fabulous job in the last few years in mobilising interest in drones and the open source autopilot software development community. However, with this success, I think some issues have developed.

Ubiquitous use of civilian drones for both recreational and commercial purposes has skyrocketed, and it has become increasingly evident to authorities (i.e. FAA) that these little planes are beginning to be used in places which in the past didn’t see ‘model’ aviation, and by individuals not using the requisite amount of common sense and discretion in operating these models. Here I’m referring mostly to long range or excessively high FPV flights and quadcopters in urban and built up areas – and not necessarily 3DR products. Why is this an issue? Well, while Trappy’s court case resulted in a judgment against the FAA, this may have prompted someone to look at other means to influence what this community is doing (remembering that this community has openly supported the outcome of Trappy’s case – and assuming that the FAAs intent was to influence the behaviours of drone users), and how to control the continued proliferation of the little drones. So how does controlling exports impact on drone use within the U.S.? It all depends if 3DR are looking at fines for each occurrence of breaching the export regulations – which would effectively mean they would go out of business, and this would have a flow on effect I imagine on the 3DR paid/sponsored developers, disruption to supply and support and fragmentation of the community.

The other thing which may have influenced all this may have been, put simply, the competition. In an environment of decreasing military spending, established companies wouldn’t be pleased at 3DR exporting products which they themselves wouldn’t be able to export without going through the proper export approvals process. And I’m not just talking about large aerospace defence companies here, but also smaller companies in the same field. It would only take one company to complain to bring this to the attention of the export regulators.  

So anyway, all of the above is simply speculative, but that’s just my two cents – following this thread with great interest to see how things develop.


Didn't any of you ever watch Futurama? You're dealing with Hermes, the beraucrat.
I worked in, around and with the NBIs (nothing but initials) We had to redact docs to an extent they were meaningless. If we got approval to sell to a foreign country we could not help them if they got stuck without a lawyer reviewing what we going to tell them for fear of violating ITAR. Some of this started long ago when an American company sold a satellite to the Chinese. It didn't make it into orbit. The Chinese blamed the satellite. The Americans proved to them it was how they designed their fairings. Oops, rocket science technology given away.
One thing for sure Hermes, the beraucrat takes his job VERY SERIOUSLY!

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