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The release of the DJI Dock, DJI's first drone-in-a-box solution, is indeed a significant breakthrough for the drone industry. It moves us not just one step closer to complete autonomy in drone operations, but also opens up new opportunities for various applications that were not feasible up until now.

Over 2300 DJI Docks have been shipped in less than six months. Doesn't this kind of demand easily demonstrate the expanding opportunities in drone autonomy?

Before we get started, a quick heads up.

We’ve designed this blog to serve as a useful resource for enterprises and drone teams looking to start or enhance their current drone programs. We will delve into the features, applications, and best practices of using the DJI Dock.

Also, we look at factors you should consider before buying the DJI Dock so that you can maximize your operations.

Let’s start with the basics - Key features of the DJI Dock

Drone docking stations have this superpower - they can function unsupervised outdoors for extended periods of time while refueling the drone’s batteries autonomously with minimal downtime - just like how an oasis works! :D 

Let’s have a look at what a drone dock, particularly the DJI Dock can bring in:

  • Autonomous drone operations: DJI Dock enables drone operations autonomously, significantly reducing human intervention and allowing for more efficient use of resources. Flight missions and routes can be scheduled in advance ensuring that drones are deployed at the right time and place for maximum efficiency.

  • Smart charging and quick turnaround: DJI Dock features fast charging capabilities and battery cooling system, ensuring that drones are charged quickly and ready for their next mission. It can charge from 10% to 90% in approximately 25 minutes.
Smart charging with DJI Dock
Smart charging with DJI Dock

  • Automatic maintenance checks: The DJI Dock, which weighs a reasonable 90kg, is extremely simple to set up, requiring basic components such as a power source and an internet connection and a few minutes to configure. The system also performs automatic inspections to detect potential faults and ensure that drones are in optimal flight circumstances.

  • Wide coverage with real-time monitoring: The M30 Dock version drone has an operational radius of 7 kilometers and a flight time of 40 minutes per mission while allowing the docking station to monitor drone operations in real time.

Now let’s look at site requirements - What to consider before deploying the DJI Dock

To make the most of the DJI Dock, it is important to consider certain site requirements and follow best practices. We've highlighted some preparations that one should make prior to deployment to ensure the dock’s optimal performance:

DJI Dock Setup
DJI Dock Setup

  • Power Availability - One of the most important factors to keep in mind is the availability of uninterrupted power supply. A suitable location for consistent power supply with few outages. Power grounding, surge protection, and cable considerations are all beneficial if done ahead of time. The ideal power supply range is a single-phase AC with a power greater than 1.5kW and a voltage between 90 V and 264 V AC.

  • Geographical Features -The site's terrain and topography also play a crucial role in the deployment of the dock. It is done to ensure that the dock is protected against any harm including those like floods. A flat, wide region with a clear line of sight to the sky and an elevation of 4000 meters or less is ideal to minimize all types of impediments. Another consideration is that the location is not prone to water buildup or illumination. To increase safety, a clear backup landing spot 5 to 500 meters away at the same height as the DJI dock is recommended.

  • Zero Signal Interference - At all costs, any single source of signal occlusion or interference on the site must be avoided. There must be no visible signal shield within a 25-degree ground altitude angle. If any environmental measures or satellite data collecting is required, the M30 series can be utilized.

  • Security and Civil Work - Last but not least, some civil work will be required to correctly mount or position the DJI dock at the site. These may involve, for example, placing the dock on a steel base to prevent damage due to flooding. Grounding is necessary to secure the system as well as the user. Physical and digital security measures, such as firewalls, should be included in terms of security.

Let’s also explore industrial inspection applications & case studies

The repeat inspection capabilities provided by drone-in-a-box systems have undoubtedly brought significant improvements to the efficiency, safety, and scalability of operations and maintenance processes for assets.

Case Study: Occidental Petroleum

Occidental Petroleum, known as Oxy, one of the largest oil and gas producers in the United States, was quick to recognize the potential of autonomous drone operations and the use of AI for monitoring assets.

In an article by BIC magazine titled "Fully autonomous drones: The next step for oil and gas," published back in 2020, it highlights the substantial impact drones have made on the industry. Waller and his team at Oxy explain how the adoption of drones has significantly reduced task completion time.

What used to take them two to two-and-a-half hours can now be accomplished in just 30-45 minutes. This improvement not only enhanced efficiency but also contributed to environmental benefits by minimizing emissions released during the process.

Oxy intended to focus on integrating drone autonomy with processes that detect anomalies and automate tasks to further optimize return on investment (ROI). And they've been doing just that with DJI Dock.

The use of DJI Dock has not only increased inspection efficiency, but has also allowed Oxy to address potential issues ahead of time, preventing them from escalating into major issues. Furthermore, the dock allows for on-demand inspections in critical situations, allowing for quick access to critical information.

Case Study: BNSF Railways

BNSF, one of North America's largest freight railroad networks, has been utilizing drone technology since 2015 to address disruptions to rail traffic. Initially deployed during heavy rains near Valley View, Texas, drones proved invaluable in assessing track conditions. 

Over time, BNSF has continued to enhance their drone capabilities. Recently they have been leveraging the latest drone-in-a-box technology particularly, the DJI Dock to enable rapid response and repeated visual data collection missions.

By utilizing the dock, BNSF can swiftly respond to incidents such as train derailments or spills, allowing for quick assessment and appropriate action. For instance, in scenarios like a rock slide, the dock enables faster information gathering, helping BNSF clear tracks or allocate resources more efficiently, ultimately saving critical time.

Case Study - Jilin National Grid

Power grid inspections are critical for maintaining the reliable delivery of electricity to consumers. It is even more crucial in regions subjected to extreme temperatures, where the grid's functionality can be challenged by extreme harsh weather. Conventionally, these inspections involve technicians manually surveying the grid, a process that is fraught with risk and physical danger in such severe environments.

An illustrative case of this is observed during winter in northeastern China at the Jilin National Grid. This region experiences extraordinarily harsh winters, with temperatures plummeting to as low as -20 degrees Celsius.

The crew responsible for inspections under these extreme conditions was continually at risk. Frostbite and snow blindness were real and serious threats, significantly jeopardizing not only their safety but also their capacity to carry out inspections effectively.

Power grid inspections with DJI Dock
Power grid inspections with DJI Dock

Faced with these challenges, the company decided to leverage technology to conduct inspections in conditions that were too perilous for human involvement. They chose the DJI Dock, a solution well-suited for remote operations in challenging environments.

Post-deployment, the DJI Dock proved instrumental in performing operations and maintenance checks of substations and connecting lines, all controlled from a center situated 60 kilometers away from the inspection site. This meant that the personnel could conduct detailed and rigorous inspections from the safety and warmth of the control center, negating the need to brave the harsh conditions.

Unlocking the full potential of DJI Dock - powering these applications with FlytNow

FlytNow is an enterprise BVLOS ready, scalable software solution for remote drone operations and works with a range of hardware options, including the DJI M30 Series and the DJI Dock. The solution is designed to be modular supporting integrations that make it suitable for use in a wide range of industries, including inspection, surveillance, operations & maintenance.

FlytNow Compatibility with DJI Dock
FlytNow Compatibility with DJI Dock

Why FlytNow?

  1. Built for enterprise users: As a scalable enterprise-grade software solution, FlytNow enables users to manage a fleet of drones and docking stations. Its cloud platform is highly reliable with redundant nodes for each operation. The system monitors drones and dock through independent, parallel systems.

    FlytNow has been built with a number of safety and fail-safe features to ensure the highest levels of operational safety at all times.In the event of a low battery, RC link loss, LTE link loss, weather changes among others.

    FlytNow also offers flexible deployment options to suit the varying needs of enterprises be it private cloud or on-premise.

  1. Designed for BVLOS operations: FlytNow let users fly drones beyond-visual-line-of-sight with complete peace of mind. With an array of safety features, several software & hardware integrations, FlytNow is designed to operate with minimal human involvement.

    Regulatory bodies such as the FAA, BCAA, JCAB, CAAM, ANAC, and GCAA have granted our customers & partners waivers and approvals to conduct BVLOS drone operations with FlytNow.

    With advanced safety features such as No-Fly-Zones (NFZ) with dynamic path planner, geofence enforcements and corridor fly zones built-in the app, FlytNow ensures remote safe operations.

  1. Supercharged by Apps & Integrations: FlytNow provides easy API access and integrations for businesses to build custom applications on top of the platform. Users can extend functionality for dock deployment use-cases to provide customers with valuable data analytics and business insights.

    It also offers comprehensive software and hardware integrations to facilitate large scale BVLOS operations such as parachutes, detect and avoid systems, ADS-B, UTMs among others.
  1. Architected to be Hardware Agnostic:  FlytNow supports a wide range of hardware, including 16 docking stations from DJI, IDIPLOYER Nexus, Heisha and Hextronics, to name a few.

    To minimize downtime, users can select the appropriate docking station - be it battery charging or swapping, ranging from compact options for smaller drones to larger stations for long-range operations. Operators also have the flexibility to extend their drone's capabilities by attaching payloads such as thermal cameras, specialized mapping cameras, loudspeakers, beacons, or even parachutes for compliance.

What lies ahead?

Looking at the features of the DJI Dock and the numerous benefits that it provides, the applications for which it can be used are limitless.

Furthermore, DJI's integration with FlytNow truly makes it a robust solution, one in which security and efficiency are guaranteed. Along with that, the system is developed to meet the needs of the customer and create a full-stack solution that is appropriate for the enterprise's needs.


Q1: Are there any alternatives to the DJI Dock?

Yes, you can have look over to this guide below about the 10-best DJI-compatible drone docking stations.

Q2: Where can I buy the DJI Dock?

You can purchase the DJI Dock through authorized DJI dealers and resellers. Need help? Reach out here.

Q3: What are the differences between the various models of DJI Dock?

DJI has only released one DJI Dock model so far, which supports the DJI M30 and DJI M30T (Thermal camera) drone models. Please keep in mind that the M30 series comes in two flavors: regular and dock. The M30 dock version is compatible with the DJI Dock because it includes a charging interface and charging management module at the landing gear.

Q4: What Drones are compatible with DJI Dock?

The M30 dock version drone is compatible with the DJI Dock.

Q5: Can DJI Dock charge multiple batteries at once?

The M30 drone has dual batteries which the dock charges upon landing. No additional batteries can be charged in the DJI Dock.

Read more…

Top Features of DJI Dock (Drone-in-a-box)

Drones have rapidly transitioned from being just recreational toys to becoming essential tools across various industries. Their versatility and range of applications have made them crucial in everything from search and rescue missions to agriculture. In recent years, advancements in drone technology have made drone operations safer and more efficient for pilots.

During the NestGen'23 keynote, Freda Peng, DJI Global Solutions Engineering Director, emphasized the importance of drone autonomy and its potential to revolutionize industries such as delivery and search and rescue. In this blog post, we will delve deeper into the exciting advancements made by DJI and how they are transforming the way we live and work.

DJI Keynote at NestGen'23

The DJI Dock

As the first drone-in-a-box solution offered by DJI, the introduction of DJI Dock has been a game changer for the industry and a significant step towards achieving true autonomy in drone operations. Companies looking to establish or expand their drone programs can reduce the learning curve by using the DJI Dock, which allows them to perform fully automated drone operations remotely.

DJI Dock

One of the keyfeatures of the DJI Dockis its ability to operate unattended outdoors for extended periods. To accomplish this, DJI engineers implemented a variety of waterproof and dustproof designs that were rigorously tested to achieve the IP55 protection rating. Furthermore, the DJI Dock was subjected to reliability tests to ensure its ability to withstand extreme environmental conditions.

DJI Dock Durability Test

To ensure the DJI Dock operates smoothly in varying environments, terrains, and industries, it underwent beta tests in more than 50 sites. The dock was officially shipped to selected end-users in China once the success rate of these tests was confirmed. It is worth nothing that over 600 DJI Docks have been shipped in less than 3 months, indicating the high demand for this product.

DJI Dock at DJI headquarters China

DJI plans to start dock shipment to international markets in Q2 2023. This move is expected to further boost the popularity of the DJI Dock and improve the overall efficiency of drone operations worldwide.

Top Features of DJI Dock

Automated Drone Deployment

DJI Dock enables automated drone deployment, significantly reducing human intervention and allowing for more efficient use of resources.

  • Scheduled Ops: Users can pre-program flight schedules and routes, ensuring that drones are deployed at the right time and place for maximum efficiency.
  • Incident Response: DJI Dock's automated deployment allows drones to respond rapidly to emergency situations, minimizing response time and maximizing the effectiveness of rescue and recovery efforts.

Drone Charging and Maintenance

DJI Dock offers an integrated charging and maintenance solution to keep drones operational and minimize downtime.

  • Fast Charging: DJI Dock features fast charging capabilities, ensuring that drones are charged quickly and ready for their next mission.

  • Automatic Maintenance Checks: The system performs automatic maintenance checks, detecting potential issues and ensuring that drones are in optimal condition for flight.

Data Collection and Analysis

DJI Dock is equipped with advanced data collection and analysis features that enable organizations to make informed decisions based on real-time information and AI-based insights.

  • Real-Time Monitoring: DJI Dock allows for real-time monitoring of drone operations, providing users with live data and video feeds to ensure missions are executed efficiently and effectively.

  • AI-Based Insights: The system leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze data collected during drone flights, offering valuable insights that can help organizations make data-driven decisions and optimize their operations.

Scalability and Integration

DJI Dock is designed to be adaptable and flexible, allowing organizations to scale their drone operations and integrate the system with existing infrastructure and workflows.

  • Adaptable for Various Applications: The DJI Dock can be customized to accommodate a wide range of applications, such as emergency response, infrastructure inspection, agriculture, and environmental monitoring.

  • Integration with Existing Systems: The solution can be seamlessly integrated with existing systems and workflows, enabling organizations to maximize the benefits of drone technology without disrupting their current operations.

Case Study 1: Determining ROI of the DJI Dock for Solar Inspections

Drones are increasingly being used in the solar sector to aid in every stage of a plant's life cycle, from planning to maintenance. They can assist in topographic surveys during planning, monitor construction progress, conduct commissioning inspections, and perform routine asset inspections for operations & maintenance.

Thermal sensors on drones can detect issues such as hotspots in cells, panels, or strings, while AI can improve the layout of solar fields by considering factors such as transmission lines, shadows from vegetation, and landscape slope. Here is one more case study on BVLOS Inspections of Solar Farms Using Modular Drone Docks in Japan

DJI Dock case study for solar inspection

Introducing autonomy into the equation instantly elevates the entire operation. With the DJI Dock, operators can now double their efficiency and speed in no-time. DJI uses the following scenarios to demonstrate the cost savings of using DJI Dock in the solar industry:

Scenario 1: No Inspections at all

Doing no inspections at all could result in reduced power generation, which could end up costing up to 140K USD per year. This is because undetected faults or damages could cause equipment failure or even safety hazards.

Scenario 2: Manual Inspections

Getting a service team to walk around the site and do manual inspections could cost around 120K USD per year. Moreover, manual inspections can be time-consuming, labor-intensive, and prone to human error.

Scenario 3: Automated Drone-in-a-Box based Inspections

DJI Dock hardware and deployment, plus a 3rd-party operations & analysis software, would cost around 45K USD. While this may seem like a significant investment, it can provide long-term benefits in terms of increased efficiency, accuracy, and safety.

The solar inspection system developed by third party software developers such as SNEGrid enables processing drone imagery with AI analysis to create accurate reports. This not only saves time and effort but also enables predictive maintenance and optimized performance.

DJI Dock can inspect the solar power plants for a minimum of 12 times per year, and even more if needed. This means that the system can provide regular and timely feedback on the status of the solar PV system, allowing for proactive measures to be taken. Drone autonomy can be a part of the IOT network and create a synergy with other smart devices.

For example, the data collected by drones can be integrated with weather forecasts, energy demand forecasts, and other relevant information to optimize the overall energy management system.

This would enable real-time monitoring and control of the solar PV system, as well as seamless communication among different components.

Determining ROI of the DJI Dock for Solar Inspections

Case Study 2: Power Grid Inspections with DJI Dock

In Jilin, a city in northeastern China, powerline inspection crews from Jilin National Grid are responsible for restoring power after snowstorms. However, with a winter that lasts six months and temperatures plummeting to -20 degrees Celsius, the crews are susceptible to frostbite and snow blindness, which poses significant risks to their safety and effectiveness.

Power Grid Inspections with DJI Dock

To address these challenges, the DJI Dock has been deployed to conduct inspections that are too hazardous for human workers. With just a few clicks, an operator at the operations and maintenance center, located 60 kilometers away from the Dock, can remotely select a Dock device and conduct immediate inspections of substations and connecting lines.

The DJI Dock (powered by FlytNow) offers fully automated drone operations, allowing companies to schedule and plan activities without requiring physical presence at the worksite. This has made inspections more efficient, accurate, and safe, while also reducing labor costs. Furthermore, the data collected by the drones can be integrated with weather and energy demand forecasts to optimize energy management systems.

The successful implementation of the DJI Dock in Jilin demonstrates the potential for drone autonomy to revolutionize power grid inspection and maintenance. Companies can leverage the DJI Dock to prevent equipment malfunction, increase efficiency, and save on labor costs while keeping their workers out of harm's way.

Power Grid Inspections with DJI Dock

DJI’s Collaboration with FlytNow Software Solution

DJI has been working closely with other third-party software solutions, including FlytNow to enable drone operators to easily automate their drone operations. FlytNow is a cloud-based software that allows users to remotely control their DJI drones and automate their drone operations. The solution is designed to be customizable and scalable, making it suitable for use in a wide range of industries, including inspection, surveillance, operations & maintenance.

The key benefits of using a software such as FlytNow includes:

Designed for BVLOS ops

FlytNow’s uniqueness lies in the fact that the software has been designed with long-range Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) operations in mind.


Numerous customers and partners have received waivers to conduct beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone operations with FlytNow. This approval has been granted by various regulatory bodies, such as the FAA, EASA, JCAB, CAAM, and GCAA. For instance, afterFIT in Japan received approval for automated drone operations, including night-time flights. Read more:

Integrations for BVLOS enablement

FlytNow offers comprehensive software and hardware integrations to facilitate large scale BVLOS operations. These integrations include:

  • Detect and Avoid (DAA) technology like Casia-G, which can detect cooperative and non-cooperative aircraft in your operational environment,
  • ADS-B technology like PingUSB, which provides real-time aircraft status updates,
  • UTM systems such as Altitude Angel and Involi to enhance airspace awareness,
  • Connectivity (5G/LTE) technology like Elsight Halo for uninterrupted communication for remote operations,
  • Parachute Recovery systems like AVSS-PRS and DRS for safe landings during emergencies, among others.
DJI’s Collaboration with FlytNow Software Solution

Built for Enterprise users

FlytNow is backed by advanced collaboration workflows and enterprise-grade security and scalability. Here’s how:


FlytNow is a scalable software solution for remote drone operations. It can manage one or multiple drones, as well as one or many docking stations. Its hosting infrastructure and enterprise-grade capabilities ensure uninterrupted drone operations at any scale.

Existing Workflow Integrations

With FlytNow, enterprises can easily integrate their existing security solutions, such as VMS or alarm systems, for a seamless experience. For example, to ensure the clearance of pipeline ROW, third-party alarms that detect mechanical digging or heavy machinery over the pipeline can be integrated with FlytNow. When an intrusion alert is triggered, FlytNow autonomously dispatches a drone to the geolocation of the alert. The drone relays a live HD video feed back to the command center, allowing operators to quickly inspect the asset and respond to the incident.

Alarm integration for DJI Dock

Ensures Operational Safety & Reliability

Operational safety and reliability are crucial for successful autonomous solutions. FlytNow offers numerous checks to detect issues in real-time and activate necessary fail-safes. Its workflows can be configured to make safer decisions by using data and events from multiple layers. For instance, users can set weather failsafes to trigger a "return to home" action, with a dynamically computed route based on UTM data that avoids no-fly zones. In case the drone can't land at the docking station, it would be automatically rerouted to a safe alternate location. 

Failsafe features in FlytNow

FlytNow's architecture addresses several challenges with remote and automated operations, including splitting operational context between edge and cloud systems to enable safe and reliable operations despite sporadic network connectivity.

Secure to its Core

In FlytNow, security is not an afterthought. The software platform is secured by token-based authentication and end-to-end encryption to ensure safe access and use. Designed to comply with industry standards, the platform ensures high availability with 24/7 monitoring and automated incident response systems.

With a reliable hosting infrastructure and functionalities such as access control, SSO sign-in and DDoS protection, FlytNow enables you to conduct your drone operations with a peace of mind.

Architected to be Hardware-Agnostic

FlytNow is designed to support a wide range of hardware, such as 

  • drones including DJI and other custom-built drones on PX4/Ardupilot,
  • over 16 docking stations such as the DJI dock, Heisha Nest Series, Hextronics, IDIPLOYER Nexus, Omnidock, DBOX, Aerieport among others,
  • Payloads such as thermal cameras, loudspeakers, spotlights, parachute systems among others,
DJI Dock powered by FlytNow

Based on the customer requirements, in terms of application or geography, the system-integrators can mix and match appropriate modules and create a full-stack solution that is optimal for the needs of that enterprise.

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Flying drones over long distances or scanning large areas is always challenging. One of the biggest problems is the limited drone communication range. Of course, a drone can fly along the route pre-developed in UgCS, but receiving drone telemetry or sending commands over long distances is not always possible.

For DJI, one of the most widespread drones in the world, the problem is aggravated by the fact that nearly all models require a remote controller with a very limited communication range.

To tackle this problem, we came up with the following ideas:

  1. communicate with a drone via the LTE/4G/5G mobile network
  2. use an antenna with a narrower radiation pattern
  3. use more powerful transmitters and wider communication channels

We investigated each idea and this is what we found. 

1. Communication with the drone via the LTE/4G/5G mobile network

That sounded promising since mobile networks are expanding all over the world and mobile communications are covering more and more territory. Of course, flights sometimes take place in remote areas without LTE/4G/5G, but mobile network communication is OK for most use cases. So, we chose this option as the main one.

2. Antenna with a narrower radiation pattern

Using an antenna with a narrower radiation pattern can increase the communication range, but not dramatically. This option has an inherent challenge: a narrow pattern antenna must track the drone position and rotate accordingly. We began working on it because it seemed interesting, so we will publish a post about it in the future. Stay tuned!

3. More powerful transmitters and wider communication channels

Officially there are no devices yet that are compatible with DJI's most popular drones, so this option was discarded from the very beginning.

Controlling a DJI drone via 4G

To try creating a LTE/4G/5G-controlled drone, we opted for DJI as one of the most common drones on the market. We decided to place a 4G modem on the drone and connect it to an automatic flight controller. The analysis showed that there was only one way to do this: use DJI OSDK (, an additional on-board computer (for example, Raspberry PI or NVidia Jetson Nano) and 4G modem plugged into it.


The DJI OSDK requirements specify the list of compatible drones: all Matrice models and those based on the A3 flight controller.

We assembled an A3-based test bench for local development and debugging. And after successful tests, assembled the full system. The photo with the equipment installed on M600 is provided below.


We also decided that the application should not only ensure integration with DJI OSDK, but act as a full-fledged UgCS onboard VSM (vehicle specific module). That is, the application should allow the drone to connect to UgCS directly via LTE/4G/5G.

As soon as the prototype was ready and debugged, we performed some test flights with Matrice 600.


Moreover, one of these flights included crossing the border, and during it, we tested the switching between two mobile operators. For details, see

As a result of all the experiments, we had an application that meets the following requirements:

  1. The application can be installed on the drone using an additional Raspberry PI computer.
  2. The application allows controlling your DJI drone directly from UgCS without additional remote control or mobile app.
  3. The drone connects to an UgCS server via a LTE/4G/5G network.
  4. UgCS onboard VSM behaviour can be modified to support specific requirements: for example, to add some actions during takeoff or manage a non-standard payload.

Considering that our solution could be useful to others, we decided to make it publicly available to simplify the development and use of various solutions based on UgCS and DJI OSDK. You can download the source code here

Here are possible use-cases for the application:

  1. The drone can be managed via the LTE/4G/5G mobile network, which significantly expands the range of drone use cases in areas covered by mobile Internet.
  2. This solution can help air traffic control bodies to easily track the drone, thus replacing ADS-B to some extent.
  3. Additional payload management features can be added.
  4. Instead of mobile communication channels, you can use any other data links that support TCP and UDP packets for video transmission.
  5. You can use our source code as an example and develop your own solution based on the DJI OSDK and UgCS.



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