Are Drones Safe? Here's 5 Things to Think About

There is no question that we are living in the midst of a drone revolution. Consumers around the world are being captivated by the prospect of controlling these high-tech flying machines, and questions about their safety are beginning to emerge. An early 2017 report published by The New York Times indicates that drones are literally flying off store shelves: 1.2 million were sold as holiday gifts for a grand total of 2.8 million drone purchases in 2016.

It can be safely said that drones can only be as safe as the people who interact with them, but here are five things to keep in mind in this regard:

Sharp Blades

In 2015, pop singer and heartthrob Enrique Iglesias suffered a gruesome injury during a live performance in Mexico as he reached out to touch a drone that had been filming him onstage. His fingers were deeply cut and lacerated by the rapidly spinning blades of the drone; although Iglesias finished the concert for the benefit of his fans, he suffered permanent nerve damage.

Aircraft Interference


One of the scariest incidents involving a drone and a passenger airplane occurred at London's Heathrow Airport in April 2016. A drone collided against a British Airways flight on its final approach; thankfully, this incident unfolded without injury, but it calls into question the safe operation of these devices.

Falling Objects

Ed Leon Klinger, a risk analyst whose work in the unmanned aerial vehicle industry is widely respected, has stated that one of the major concerns involving drones is their potential for becoming falling objects in congested urban environments such as busy downtown districts. This concern comes about at a time when online retail giant Amazon is planning on using drones to deliver products. 

Security Incidents

In January 2015, a government worker operating a drone in the District of Columbia lost control of the device, which crashed onto the White House lawn and sent Secret Service scrambling to protect former President Barack Obama because they believed it was an attack. A few months later, French security analysts released a report on the numerous drone sightings near nuclear reactors and weapons stations. 

Privacy Concerns


A few years ago, officers from the London Metropolitan Police Service arrested a drone pilot who was used to taking aerial shots of the city's landmarks. Although the pilot was eventually released without prosecution, lawmakers in England have been working on new measures to regulate drones so that they do not infringe upon privacy.



In the end, drones may only appear to be dangerous at this time because they are relatively new consumer items that awaiting regulation and familiarization by society as a whole.

 

References:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/08/business/drone-safety-risk-popul...

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jun/03/drone-injury-grounds-...

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/personal-injury-attorneys/...

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-36067591

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/drone-flying-london-police-al...

Views: 465

Comment by Marc Dornan on Thursday

Really good to know that they have spinning blades and may fall on people. I feel enlightened by those 5 things. What is this? You posted your high school essay?


Moderator
Comment by RM Aviation on Thursday
The "drone strike" at Heathrow was retracted very shortly after the initial claim, it was thought to be a plastic bag. The problem with repeating sensationalistic rubbish as fact is that it makes your piece sensationalistic rubbish as well. Checking facts before release is not on most bloggers agendas it seems, we have others here who display the same behaviour and who obviously do not give much credence to credibility.
Comment by turdsurfer on Friday

Please don't report things as if they're facts when they're not. Pay attention to words like "believed", "may", "perhaps", etc. in articles such as the one about Heathrow. Leave fake-news to the professionals such as MSNBC and CNN.

Comment by Gary McCray on Friday

Hi Rachael,

I think your Post is well intentioned, but especially for this audience not well developed enough to be useful.

We have suffered through much false and exaggerated reporting of drone mishaps and it has left us a bit sensitive to that issue.

Your view seems like it may well mirror the current average person on the street, but that is not accurate or representative of the people on this site who actually have had a lot of exposure to this.

While it is true that there are undoubtedly millions of them out there at this time, actual verified safety incidents either of proximity or actuality have been vanishingly small.

There are a lot of reasons for this.

Most drones (EG: Quadcopters) are toys or hobbyist grade devices which see very little use before they are put back in their box and forgotten.

And for those people who do continue to use them, they rapidly gain sensitivity to the fact that not all of society is happy with them and behave courteously and with safety consciousness.

As for the serious drone users (way less than 1% of the total, they want to continue to be able to use them and generally bend over backwards to follow rules and behve legally and resposibly.

Of course there are still 2 other groups.

The consumate idiots who think they should be able to do whatever they want no matter the implications.

And the ones actually bent on trouble, usually teenagers or mentally immature people and possibly a small batch of professionals.

Enforcement is required to control this group in a significant enough way that it becomes clear to them that it just isn't worth it.

You can't really stop idiots, but you can slow them down.

In the end it is only the last group the professional trouble causers possibly terrorists that are the real danger.

This can and will happen and where ever it does, just like is done for every other kind of terrorism, governments will come down on them and their sponsors like a ton of bricks.

This is as it should be.

This group totally advocates safe and responsible flying within the existing regulations and laws and mindful of peoples perceptions.

In fact your article is offensive only because it doesn't understand the historic perspective and efforts that we as a group have already put into making appropriate regulation and responsible flying happen.

Best Regards,

Gary

Comment by Patrick Duffy on Friday

FYI, the 'Mythbusters' did a show on drones where they tried to cut a human dummy by crashing a drone into it. It turned out that only the commercial drones with carbon fiber blades did any significant damage to the dummy.  99% of the drones for hobby use are manufactured with plastic, bendable blades that are difficult to cause damage if touched.  In the Mythbuster show, they could not cut the dummy with these plastic blades.  The rock-star case is a rare occurrence that was caused by deliberate foolish behavior with a drone that had carbon fiber blades.  You can't blame the drone for some foolish behavior, any more than you can blame the car if somebody drives drunk.   In fact, it's quite difficult to find cases of people being cut by drone props.  It's very, very rare, and usually caused by stupidity.

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