Sunday, December 14, 2014

What Happens When Your Drone Escapes?

A computer that freezes might lose a document. A drone that malfunctions might fly away.
As consumer drones take off, the burgeoning industry is struggling to overcome a problem known as “flyaways,” when devices go rogue and fly off from their users.
Drone makers say flyaways can happen if users don’t 
calibrate the compass or configure fail-safe functions. A 
quadcopter drone was launched in Reno, Nev., in October. 
Bloomberg News
Drone makers say their devices can zoom off or drift away with the wind for a variety of reasons, including software glitches, bad Global Positioning System data and lost connections to controllers. Many incidents end with the devices barreling into buildings, trees or bodies of water.
There aren’t statistics on the number of flyaways yet, but examples abound, many of them recorded by the drones’ cameras and posted online.
“They’re dangerous,” says Darren Kelly, a videographer from Ontario, Canada, who watched one of his Chinese-made drones fly into a tree and another fly into Lake Ontario while he frantically tried to regain control. After the second flyaway, “that’s when I said, ‘Nope, this could hurt people,’ and hung it up,” he says.
Flyaways are one of several safety risks that the drone industry and aviation officials are aiming to solve, including flights over crowds and conflicts with manned aircraft.
A pilot's March 22nd report of "a near midair collision" 
with a drone near the airport in Tallahassee, Florida
Pilots already have reported dozens of cases in which drones flew too close to their aircraft, and the Federal Aviation Administration says the nation’s air-traffic system isn’t equipped to handle thousands of small devices buzzing around at low altitudes.
The FAA allows recreational drone flights, but it has effectively banned their commercial use until it complete rules for the devices in the next several years. A draft of those rules currently being reviewed by other agencies would limit who can fly drones commercially and how. Meanwhile, many users are nonetheless using unmanned aircraft for their businesses.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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