A local drone pilot says Apple security has prevented him from filming the construction of the company's new Apple Park headquarters.
Since August 2015, Duncan Sinfield has been filming at Apple Park with his drone and posting monthly videos on YouTube. His videos have hundreds of thousands of plays and viewers have praised his work for its high quality.
When he posted his most recent YouTube video on Monday, he wrote in the introduction that Apple's security has been preventing him from filming.
"Security at Apple Park generally responds in two white Priuses to my precise take-off locations in 10 minutes or less," Sinfield wrote. "It's only a matter of time until the campus becomes shut off to drones completely."
A 26-year-old assignment editor for KTVU, Sinfield told KQED Arts that he began filming the Apple Park construction project as practice for his drone, a DJI Inspire 2. Sinfield lives in nearby Redwood City and said that, from a filmmaking perspective, there's nothing like the Apple Park project anywhere else in the Bay Area.
Sinfield said he shoots the project on a monthly basis and previously filmed for up to 50 minutes at a time. But in recent weeks, he said campus security has shown up to shut down his shoots within ten minutes of launching his drone.
"While this is speculation, 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 (sic) (a San Francisco-based aerospace security company)," Sinfield wrote on YouTube.
Dedrone Inc. is the creator of the DroneTracker system, which uses sensors to detect unwanted drones. Representatives for Dedrone told MarketWatch that they were unable to say if Apple was a client, but confirmed Dedrone customers include the Golden State Warriors and the PGA Tour.
It's unclear why Apple is cracking down on Sinfield, as his videos have been described as "better than most corporate-produced pieces." But Apple may have reason to be concerned with drones over its property after one crashed into the building's solar panels back in February. KQED Arts reached out to Apple for comment and did not receive a response.
Sinfield said that at one of his recent shoots, Apple security told him that if he didn't recall his drone right away, they would call the sheriff's department, who could charge him with being a public nuisance.
“It’s hypocritical because Apple retail stores sell the identical model of drone I’m flying over their campus,” Sinfield said. “It’s hypocritical to be selling drones and saying, ‘Fly them wherever you want, just don’t do it over our headquarters.’”
Sinfield said he plans to continue filming the construction because of his viewership's demands. By trying to stop drone pilots from filming Apple Park’s construction, he reasoned, Apple is just making people more interested in what’s going on there. But Sinfield also suspects that Apple wants to stop outsiders from taking images of the new headquarters so they can prepare for a big reveal.
“I think Apple could solve this issue if they released their own monthly-update photo, similar to what I’m doing," Sinfield said. "But they’ve decided they don’t want to take that route.”