GoPro Karma drones around the world were grounded due to GPS glitch

07 Jan

GoPro introduced its first—and only—drone in September 2016 to much fanfare. Unfortunately, the Karma, as the action camera company named it, was plagued with issues from the very beginning. Besides poor reviews that pointed out its lack of standard safety features, reports of Karma drones losing power, mid-flight, and falling from the sky became rampant to the point where GoPro recalled it on the same night as the U.S. Presidential election in November 2016.

While the number of sales is undisclosed, the Karma was purchased by drone enthusiasts even after it was discontinued in January 2018. The users that held onto their Karma discovered that it wouldn’t take off at the beginning of this year due to a glitch in the GPS and GLONASS systems of the drone. User complaints surfaced in dozens of forum posts and tweets as first pointed out by The Verge.

‘I recently got a karma and am having an issue with compass calibration. For some reason this doesn’t work: as soon as I select compass calibration in the controller, within half a second (not enough time to pick up the drone and start calibrating), I get the message ” calibration failed, try again”. It also gives a message about not being able to calibrate the compass without a GPS signal. I am trying this in a field and had the drone there for at least 10 minutes…’ lamented one user in GoPro’s forum. The Karma’s firmware has not been updated since September 26, 2018.

Most tech companies update their software consistently to avoid the same issues the Karma experienced as the new year rolled in. GoPro’s dilemma is likely the result of the GPS clock “rollover” phenomenon, which happens once every 1,024 weeks, or every 19.7 years. If a company’s software is not updated, it may automatically reset the date which can corrupt navigation data and throw off location estimates. GPS needs these precise figures to properly function.

After receiving enough media attention, a GoPro spokesperson has announced that the company’s engineering team is “actively troubleshooting” the issue.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

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