3D Robotics

NPR: "Drone Hobbyists Talk Safety"


Good piece from the US National Public Radio on how the hobby community approaches drone safety while regulators deliberate rules. Here's the section I'm quoted in: 

It's counterintuitive, but many in the drone community want more rules.

"I very much want rules," says Chris Anderson, who founded 3D Robotics and DIY Drones. "Why? Because I want clarity. We want to know what the landscape is so that we can respond appropriately." Anderson says such clarity could start with a few definitions — like what a recreational drone really is.

Right now, he says, all drones are lumped into the same category, from the little foam onesavailable at Wal-Mart to the 50-pound behemoths some people could choose to convert into flying weapons.

In the absence of official rules, people have started coming up with their own.

"There have been some recent unsafe instances that don't represent our community, but in a sense they do," said Timothy Reuter, founder of the DC Area Drone User Group, addressing members at a meeting to discuss safety guidelines.

"In the public mind ... anyone who operates a drone in an unsafe manner is tarnishing the reputation of the entire community," he wrote in an email later.

Reuter says the need for establishing these safety guidelines is quickly approaching.

"We don't want regulations to come down on us like a ton of bricks," he told the group. "Because if we don't come up with our own safety guidelines, then other people who don't understand the technology will." He likens public anxiety about personal drones to that in the 1800s about balloons, and more recently about 3-D printing.

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  • Well, for safety, you really can't go wrong following the AMA guidelines. While not specifically for drones, they're general safety guidelines that should provide for safe flying, even for drones:



  • Please give me links of rules on drone safety. I'm beginning to become a multirotor safety advocate here in the Philippines.  

  • Denzel up in the clouds, hangin on for dear life gets me everytime.  Don't take a sip, steady, ok, all good.

  • @Matthew: I'm part of an AMA flying club that flies at a city designated flying field. We have a NASA base, an international airport, and an airforce base all within 5 miles of us, so we make sure they know we're there ;)

  • Austin - I was about to write that the rules state that you can't fly within 3 miles of the airport at all, but on further reading AC91-57, I stand corrected. Circular states: When flying aircraft within 3 miles of an airport, notify the airport operator, or when an air traffic facility is located at the airport, notify the control tower, or flight service station.


  • @mP1: The arms are standard DJI F450/F550 style arms, they have some small feet on them. the foam pieces are just cut from dollar-store pool floatation noodles. the foam noodles cost literally $1 and the landing feet cut from them actually provides enough buoyancy to find your copter if it crashes into the water (not sure about enough buoyancy to actually stay on the water for takeoff/landing, haven't tried)

  • @BluSky1: That picture sums it up quite nicely :) Also, another thing for people to know, when you're within 3 miles of an airport, your height restrictions are 400 feet, not 1000 feet. Almost learned that the hard way when F-22 fighter jets streaked over at 500 feet. Luckily, I was well below that ;)

  • @Christopher

    Tell me about those copter legs ? How are you supporting and attaching the foam outter skin ?

  • As multirotor pilot of 4+ years.
    The only part that bothers me about this topic is the government stifling innovation with impossible rules, permits fees and taxes.
    I think the current rules are acceptable for civilian operators who stay under 1000F and are under 4lbs. If they wreck or hurt anyone they will get charged.
    I would go even further and say that the government should give out 4lb/1000f waivers to all small businesses that want to use this technology and have a certification process that costs less than $500 dollars.
    Stop acting like I am flying a predator drone its pretty SILLY!

    I think this picture best sums up this topic


  • Hey, that's a picture of me on the post! lol

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