3D Robotics


The scary headline below should be a warning to all of us who travel with drones in our checked or carry-on luggage. Here's what I do, and it's worked well for me so far:

  1. I carry the drones in a Pelican case, which is checked luggage
  2. I enclose a note in the case explaining what they are, for the TSA to read. I use phrases like "robots for a competition" rather than use the word "drones".
  3. I carry the LiPos in my carry-on luggage, in a bag that clearly marks them as batteries. 

Anybody else have other good drone travel tips?

Quadcopter drone group held in London airport on suspicion of terrorism

From the article:

It was just as the three performers were disembarking from their Dublin flight in London that their suitcases were swarmed in upon by customs officers at the new London Southend Airport.

"We were returning to London with our suitcases full of drones, batteries and wiring equipment. Customs scanned through the suitcases and their eyes widened," said Young.

He said the officers then decided to call in the special branch, whose officers began questioning the three performers about their projects and asked them to describe what the electronic drones were all about in layman's terms.

"They asked us what electronic countermeasures we were trying to achieve! They took all of our materials and asked us for weblinks and references. Then they went away and Googled the project."

After that, Young said each team member was taken away for individual questioning. "They were also quite interested to know if we had cars."

Robotic ballet in the sky

Young said they told the special branch that their performance was a robotic ballet in the sky to show how communities in cities can use technology to gather and share information.

"My concern was they might have thought we were going to incite terrorism with the upcoming Olympic Games," he said.

But, after two hours of repeated questioning, the performers were eventually allowed to continue on their way. That wasn't before their conversations were recorded under the UK's Terrorism Act.

"Our stop and search is now on their file. We're now in the system, so they told us they would be checking us against our case file if we pass though the airport again," added Young.

(via Makezine)

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  • I know this is a late comment. I'm travelling with my quad to make a soalr farm video. I really don't have the money for a Pelican case though. Has anyone just straight up carried the quadcopter onto the plane without a case? I'd take props off and protect electronics...

  • Moderator

    Thanks David. 

  • Moderator

    Ruwan, look at the 1640.

  • Moderator

    @Chris, sorry to bring up an old thread, during travelling do you place the pelican case inside a checked luggage? and what is the case? (is it 1510?)

    Plan to take my quad in an international flight. 


  • Developer

    I took about 8 lipos of various sizes between 500mAh up to 3000mAh and like some people above have done, I took them in my carry-on and treated them just like a computer (dumped them into that little plastic tray they give you).

    I was asked about them every time and they were also wiped down to check if they were explosives (presumably).

    I was half expecting them to be taken away but even after 5 flights I still had them.


  • Sad but true, Sooner or later we will be required to be tested and licensed to be able to fly RC because it is easyer and cheaper to hijack a transmitter than a real aircraft.

    I have been flying RC for almost 20 years and I know that within another 20 years there will be no flying RC because of the idiots that live just down the road from all of us.

  • I was going to disassemble my quad and bring it with me to Bahrain for the summer, but it turns out radio control planes and helicopters aren't even allowed. :(

    My electronics instructor suggested I ship my batteries, But like Mark said, pulling them out at security seems like it'd go well. 

  • Best to stay away from flying RC drones around unprecedented military restricted airspace during the London Olympics - unless you want to cause a national security incidence.

  • Yeah, this Lipo fire/shipping thing is going to be a big deal, because the batteries are used in everything.  Can you imagine having to wait for surface shipment of *EVERYTHING* containing Lipo batteries coming from China?  Maybe what they should do it put all the lipos into an external hold, like a drop tank, that they can simply drop if anything goes wrong...

    Only half joking.

  • I agree with Chris. Only bring strictly necessary LiPos. If you have two it's better, if you have more you have to be lucky.

    If you are not travelling alone share with your partner...

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