We have been conducting habitat mapping, and wildlife monitoring, as well as test flights. as part of our desire, we also conduct presentations so as to educate and inform the community and interested groups in UAS / UAV abilities and to confront misinformation and what people "think" about UAS / UAV systems.

As of late we have been hammered, and my in-box overflowing, with complaints and issues in reference to Quadcopters (multirotors) and helicopters. This seems to really brought to the forefront after the Kennedy Airport incident made it to the national news.

We follow a strict "go-no go" launch protocol, and as most of the people I deal with, I notice that they all abide by FAA AC 91-57, and either follow, or have incorporated, the AMA "Model Aircraft Safety Code" (as well as recognize AMA Doc. #550).

What has really grabbed my attention is the use of the word "drone" by both quadcopter (multirotors) and helicopter operators, and complainants. The interesting thing is that, so far, all the "drone" operators to whom I have spoken with, are flying camera platforms by control (hence not autonomous- a "drone").

People are seeing multirotor / helicopter systems flying over their houses and property (and then being approached by people to buy the aerial photo of their place, real estate agents are using, or hiring out to get multirotor / helicopter photos of property, and neighbors believe they are being spied on.

I was even sent an email forward of someone being "buzzed" at a ski event at Big Mountain resort during a ski event (I did find out that there was a quadcopter flying over people taking video / photos of a night ski event but unable to confirm the "buzz").

I guess the most striking contact that I have had so far, is a photo that was sent to me where a Columbia Falls company posted a photo of one of their quad systems flying over Bowman Lake, inside Glacier National Park (one system took the picture of the second - two quadcopers flying inside the National Park)

Now, I plead with you not to take this as a bitch, or a complaint, for all the multirotor / helicopter operators that I know, and deal directly with (and all those on DIY) are driven by a higher curiosity in development, and not by the "Ahhh" factor gained by buzzing someone on a bicycle.

But, if other areas are seeing (or hearing about) some of the same things we are hearing (and seeing in Montana....and the Internet - a squadron of quadcopters over London) this could come back and bite those of us who are really working on UAS / UAV systems, in the rear. All it is going to take, is one of these things to crash (into property or people) and the word / term "drone" be used and we are going to be regulated to flying in our garages.

I thank those of you who have taken the time to read this. I would really love any and all comments (and if you disagree, please keep it clean) on this issue. Again, if you operate a quadcopter (multirotor) or helicopter this is not an attack on you, only to bring to light what actions of a very small (I hope) group of people may mean to us all (here on DIY) and in your area.

Cheers to you all


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  • Thank you for your comment Phil.

    I really do believe it is going to be left to people like those here in the DIY community to "introduce" the positive real-world applications of UAS / UAV systems.





  • Byron,

    Thanks for starting a good discussion. I commend you for using UAVs in useful ways with positive impacts. I agree with your thought. Do good, get good. We need more of that.

    Wildlife research/protection are great applications of this technology that I hope to see a lot more of. It'll be great day for wildlife and for drones when we start seeing more news headlines that read: 'Drones Reducing Poaching' or 'Drones Helping Endangered Species'

    Right now, drones are mostly associated with the military, killing, destruction, and spying. And recently, with a few bad actors flying irresponsibly in our communities. So in many ways the word 'drone' has earned its bad reputation. The DIYDrones community is very creative and can help develop and promote positive applications for drones. Do good, get good.



  • R Lefebvre-     I agree, do good, get good.
    One thing we have focused on is assisting in providing mapping for state agencies. We covered 300 acres in 30 minutes collecting 700 plus HD photos for a mosaic to help with a NRCS WRP project. It was in a location aircraft could not get to, and we were able to do something good.
    These need to be the driving force of the issue, not reacting to people complaining about something hovering over their head while skiing..the wall I hit is exactly your point; our hands are tied and those who do - sometimes - make it into the news @ a "drone" are usually not the ones we want making "news" for the community.
  • Ok, I completely agree Kevin... well other than the pitbull thing.  No thank you.

    This is what we need to be doing, is showing the good uses.

    But there's a problem.  Every time I have talked about demonstrating good uses of UAVs to people who are interested in improving the image of this field, I am met with the response "well, that would be great, but you can't do that, because it's illegal".  For example, I envisaged a T3 competition where we could do mock-deliveries of life-saving items.  Points could be awarded for distance flown, mass of the item delivered, and accuracy of delivery.  Bonus points for being able to confirm successful delivery, or even being able to stay on site to monitor the situation.

    For example, somebody has a heart attack, or allergic reaction in a wilderness park.  They can contact authorities, but it still takes hours for a real helicopter to get on scene.  Park Rangers could load lifesaving supplies onto a UAV and deliver it to the people in minutes.  Heck, even a heart attack in any large public park, a multi-rotor could deliver an AED faster than the ambulance can get there.  

    But the idea was squashed because "it's illegal to drop anything from the air".  Well... we're never going to get anywhere this way.  

    Because it's exactly like the gun debate.  "If owning drone is criminal, only criminals will own drones".  

    Right now, there are people using UAV for things we don't like.  They don't care about the laws, morality, or maybe even safety and privacy.  So these guys are driving the reputation.

    Meanwhile, the rest of us who are interested in good uses are sitting back saying "well, we can't use them for good purposes, because it's illegal".    This has happened so many times before, and we know the result

    Do what ya did, you'll get what you got.

  • R Lefebvre-
    thank you, that was more eloquently put than my "running" from the word drone. a very good way to broach the issue when brought up.
    "I / we do not operate like that"
  • Kevin, but we have no more ability to stop negative perceptions being attached to the word "drone" than we do to stop the negative stereo type attached to the word "Hacker".  This has happened through human history.  

    The media will take all the negative aspects of something they want to make a story out of, and use a new-ish, unique word to describe that.  Something that makes good headlines.  And if you don't want to get wrapped up in all the negative connotations of that, the only thing you can do is distance yourself from it.  "I don't do THAT.  I do this. "

  • I just noticed two more comments - sorry, I am trying to multi-task, and very poor at it. Please bare with me.
    Josh, please read my comment (reply) above. Yes, I address multirotors, but you are correct, there is no separation to what we all do, that is why I opened this up for discussion, i need, hope, to get a more broad feeling of what a some-what consensus is, to be better informed so i can address these issues when, at these public meetings / presentations I am asked about, or yelled at because "one of us" were flying over some guys backyard spying on his family. Fixed-wing / rotary...no difference. A plane crashes, a helicopter crashes.....no different, a crash happened   -                        
    sudden deceleration syndrome, earth poisoning, a catastrophic aerodynamic failure,
    we all share the sky, and the weight of the issue.
    Drone Savant- i agree that we are supporting the vilianization of the word "drone", but with the issue, and how it is addressed here in Montana, i do try to use drone when talking @ military systems and UAS / UAV systems that the rest of us find of interest.
    Thanks also for your time to comment
    Cheers, Byron
  • I agree with that, and as silly as it sounds, I loved how Scott Adams used the term "military drone" instead of just "drone" in his Dilbert comic strip the other day.  Drone isn't a bad word.


  • I really appreciate those of you who have taken the time to comment. This is the type of dialogue that I wished for, since it became apparent to me that I was remiss in my presentations to touch on, and ease some concerns on, the topic of typical use / versus adverse use by outliers in the community (and in that I address those of us interested in design, development, and use of UAV /UAS systems).
    I would like to address each comment in turn, but first I have to speak to Mr. Moore. I apologize if you felt that I was targeting multicopters, or that this comment was written in such a way as to shed a disparaging light upon multicopters / quadcopters / helicopters alike. That was not my intention. As I stated in my comment (blog), it has come to my attention, in Montana, that a small group of people, who just happen to be using quadcopters (multirotors), have been the ambassadors of such activity, hence that is what the public sees, and knows (or thinks they know).
    LanMark; you make two very good points, and I agree on your second point, first. I never use the word "drone" unless I am discussing military systems. I know that is a shallow step, but I (just my feeling alone) try to use the UAV / UAS title when speaking of mine, or others projects or systems. In Montana, we have enough "government" issues [black helicopters, "spy drones", etc...]. Second, you are absolutely correct. a few "bad apples" are at every level in every hobby / interest. I guess that is why I, as well as others, add a education element as a tag-a-long to UAV flights. Building a positive outlook towards all UAS / UAV systems will build a more positive outlook, and then a less harsh assault on the entire community when an incident does occur. I keep crossing my fingers to hear the first story @ a UAS / UAV system finding, or assisting in a SAR exercise. That will really bolster the public's mindset.
    D. Joseph Frazier; correct, as LanMark has stated, and the point I try to get across, it may be semantics, and some may disagree, but I do not run from, but try to put a distance between "drone" and what this (DIY) community focuses on. whatever title you like for your project, just not "drone". I guess it is akin to calling the NSF C-130 flight lab "NCAR", and the military version is the Hercules..
    Again, I thank each of you for taking the time to comment.
    Cheers, Byron
  • Now, I plead with you not to take this as a bitch, or a complaint

    But it is, but it's a valid bitch and complaint, however your'e going to have to be part of the solution, trumping the "I know what I'm doing (and you do) and I fly a UAV plane" card isn't going to work.  You're no different in the eyes of the people upset over being buzzed or flown over; you have a drone, your just happens to be a plane.

    This is a problem for everyone, and we need to come up with a solution.  Even people just fly quads like r/c models are going to cause problems.  We're all going to have to work on a solution together.

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