Clip the wings of drone cowboys?


As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald today:

"The chief executive of the US consumer drone maker 3D Robotics wants the cowboys who have tarnished the name of the hobby to have their wings clipped.

Chris Anderson, the co-founder and chief executive of the Bay Area-based start-up, has even coined a term for the phenomenon: "mass jackassery".

"[It's] bad and it's going to get worse. And if we don't do something about it, no one's been killed yet, but someone's going to do something really stupid," he told Fairfax Media.

Full story here.

Hard not to agree, especially after the recent US Open saga.  Whilst the media down here appears to be primarily concerned about privacy, I'm sure we have all seen pilots acting irresponsibly.

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  • @Gabriel - Most of our activities in public are indeed regulated one way or another. That doesn't mean we are terrified. Far from it. It means we are trying to be responsible and ensure that we can all live together safely and peacefully.

    The elephant in the room when it comes to flying multi rotors is that it's simply not safe to fly them in the areas that many people are flying them in. Eventually this will cause incidents that will cause knee jerk reactions like we are seeing now in California. We can't legislate common sense. So the next best thing is to have the technology enforce safety where possible.

    What possible reason does a hobbyist have for flying a multirotor at 2,000 feet? Yet people do it quite often. I really think the car analogy is a good one. You can take a race car to a track and go wild but you can't do that down my suburban street because we don't want our kids run over. I really don't see any issue with that at all.  

  • Glad to see Chris standing up for this so strongly,

    It has been an inherent problem since the first multicopter and now it is growing by leaps and bounds.

    Like Thomas says above I have a strong feeling that the horse is out and shutting the barn door now is a bit late, but we have to do our best anyway.

    I do think it is inevitable that in the not too distant future some truly unpleasant crashes are going to bring even more undesirable notoriety.

    And very likely result in gross overreaction by the media, the public and the politicians.

    I support a philosophy of making these things as small and light and intrinsically safe as possible because safety is still by far the biggest concern.

    But privacy issues aren't going to go away either.

    The bottom line is we really need to do more to promote "reasonable" safe and respectful operation if we want to be able to keep doing this.

    I had to get rid of my lovely AR15 target rifle years ago because of new legislation and I really enjoyed taking it to DCIM matches.

    And a lot more people now have drones than ever had assault rifles and most of them are far less acquainted with how to handle them safely and responsibly.

    Best Regards,


  • "hard not to disagree" - I'm sorting out the meaning of that statement!

    A big question here is what responsibility do the manufacturers and marketers have in this issues? When a company says "Anyone can fly it" are the being responsible? Maybe in the small print somewhat it says "learn to be a good pilot", but the big message is that anyone can do it.

    "whether you're a seasoned drone pilot or a beginner"

    "For Everyone"

    "you or anyone else - I can hand you this controller and take you outside and you can fly out of the box"

    I could go on......but these statements come from the very manufacturers who are now commenting that people take the things and don't learn!

    Shouldn't responsibility start with the manufacturers and marketing? 

    Another of my pet peeves is that when the cowboys post their exploits all over the interwebz the manufacturer's (employees, reps, cheerleaders, etc.) - even those participating in the same discussions, will often comment "Epic Flight" and not call such people to task. I understand it's a slippery slope but you have to stand for something. They could at least comment "we suggest only flying LOS and blah-blah - please fly safe and responsibly". 

    I have decades of experience with a similar situation - we sold biomass (wood, pellet, etc.) heating equipment and ran some very large forums. We would not let member post threads or posts about burning carpet, green wood, trash...nor would we allow pictures of unsafe installations, etc.

    AND, we were not even manufacturers - just acting responsible in an attempt to keep people safe. After all, they were playing with fire.

    IMHO, the first order of business here is for manufacturers to make it very clear what is needed to fly responsibly. I do notice some movement in that direction but it is often drowned out by marketing departments. 

  • As a member of Diydrones and a RC flyer for the past 45 years I think I have enough exposure to this hobby to know the importance of the safety issues. we RC flyers always fly in our local clubs with strictly observing the safety procedures responsibly. when first small drones started to come out it did cross my mind about the safety when I started seeing drones flying over the cities and towns and even over the airports !. I think it is a good idea to bring out the problem now before a major accident happens and I think the first think Diydrones can do is a awareness campaign about the drones and what damage they can do if they fall off the sky or hit an aircraft of hit a person etc. I know there are always news here about these issue which is very positive but perhaps it is now the time the awareness campaign to be taken more seriously and more informative especially to the new comers to this hobby or even before their memberships are accepted to pass a knowledge tests about the safety issues.  

  • My own personal Law of Concepts: Any concept created by man can be used for both good and bad.

    In other words, to the uninformed and misinformed politicians: You will never be able to stop people from doing bad things with technology without also preventing people from doing good things with that technology.

    To the California politician who is only looking out for her next election, to the FAA inspectors in the ivory towers in Washington, to the media who are only interested in selling advertising, and to the product manufacturers who are seriously considering ways to keep all of these people happy, let me ask you this: How well will you sleep the night some five-year-old dies of exposure because search & rescue personnel weren't able to use every tool to find him?

  • Admin

    Hi All,

    Since I am a DIY Drones Administrator I am involved with the approval of new members who want to join DIY Drones for various reasons.

    At the top of the list are members who want to either build or buy a multicopter for personal photographic or FPV purposes. There are also a substantial number of members who want to open a sUAS business either to sell multicopters or provide a sUAS service of some kind. We are presently adding approximately 1,000 new members to DIY Drones each month and if even a very small fraction of those new members fly irresponsibly we are in big trouble.

    What these casual observations say to me is that the local/state entities or even the FAA are going to have a difficult time regulating the flow of hobby sUASs into the private/public environment let alone attempting to regulate the "drone cowboys" who are giving the hobby sUASs community a bad name.

    I fear that we have closed the barn door after the horse has already departed.


    TCIII Admin

  • Comment deleted by Admin due to the nature of the post that violated the TOS.

    TCIII Admin

  • does anyone read smh? really a joke, the journalists are a joke. i wouldn't even bother reading it. or perhaps read the "reccomended articles" at the bottom such as "

    why the 'side bum' is the new body part to embrace
  • What's the exact question Anderson answered with that statement?

    F1P you are very very right!

  • IMHO There is time to make much more serious safety test and wide research of specific product samples  in real conditions

This reply was deleted.