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Multirotor / Drone safety


Junior Member
I'd like to know how the community's views and thoughts on how multirotors and other small hobby RPAS could be made safer.
Whether it be systems for the drones such as anything from rotor guards to parachutes or for pilots concerning gaining prior experience or having some sort of AI hand holding at first, I'd like to hear what people with actual experience have to say rather than speculating.

I'm doing a bit of preliminary research for a university assignment and I thought this was the best place to start asking.


Rogue Drone Pilot
Safety devices are not a substitute for safe operating practices. Safety always starts with that squishy device between your ears. Pair that with common sense and that is a winning combo over any sort of geo fencing control, parachute wielding, self aware consumer class drone any day of the week.

Education is indeed the answer. But the FAA's registration scam is a joke. You read a few sentences and now your educated? No...the real motive is to create their precious database so don't be fooled on that.
Hi dylan96,

in my opinion multirotor safety isn't so much about a rotorguard or a parachute for the drone but more so about the pilot. I strongly don't think additional laws or strict law enforcement would prevent idiots from doing idiotic things (e.g. flying a drone directly at an airport). The enforcement for GPS flight restrictions for all drones would not be benefitial for the safety of consumer multirotors.
An AI hand (I think you refer to e.g. GPS guided flight modes and collision avoidance) don't really help a newbie pilot to get a sense for what to do and what not, quite the opposite, as a especially new pilots with machines with great AI capabilities (like the DJI lineup of multirotors) seem to don't think as much about the safety side of things because the drone will stop them losing control or doing stupid things in most cases. When I learned to fly my first tricopter, there were no better lessons that no aircraft is perfectly safe than seeing it crash because of my lacking pilot skills or because my solder joint was bad or a prop would break. I knew in advance that I would crash so I only flew above fields with a few hundred meters room to each side. And seeing my copter drop down or fly against a tree was keeping me "on the earth" about my pilot skills such that I didn't overestimate my skills. I think that the automatic systems dampen this learning effect and many aspiring pilots overestimate the cababilities of themselves and their machine because of it. Because they didn't have their machine drop onto a field when they learned to fly, they think it is perfectly fine to fly in a park above people. And then it only takes one of the thousands of multirotors to drop and we have a scandal and potentially injured people.

All in all, I think automatic systems should always be overwritable by the pilot (wich is not the case with many consumer grade quadcopters) and I have the opinion that these automatic systems make the flight of an experienced pilot that bit safer and do not really help keeping the unexperienced safe, because these people will never start to worry about safety, because "the machine will rescue itself", except that it won't in all the cases. Secondly, more regulations will not make the hobby safer, but knowledge and education would. Laws never stop people from doing things that they shouldn't do.

Sorry for the rambling, I hope this helps you out.

Edit: razor is definately right: Common sense is the most important part of this hobby. That's the word I was searching for. :) Common sense is way more important than regulations or geo fencing or whatever. People will find a way around regulations or their limiting technologies of their multirotors, but they will follow their inherent sense of what could be a bad idea. That's what common sense is for, and it needs knowledge and experience to build it up.
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Faster than a speeding faceplant!
The most powerful weapon on any battlefield is your brain.

The most effective safety device on any road is your brain.

The most dangerous person in the world is one with a brain and not enough sense to use it.

There is no substitute for personal responsibility which is the product of a functioning brain.

Use it often. Use it well. Your brain is your safety in a nutshell. :)
IMHO I see 2 different "drone" pilots
#1 someone in it for FUN-OF-FLIGHT that is mostly what you find here on flitetest / your FPV racers TRI builders ETC
#2 someone that wants that SHOT and sees his UAV as a Camera tripod that flys - jour DJI types

I would saw group #1 KNOWS the rules and VALUES there craft as they built/tuned it ETC

it is group two that is NOT aware / care about flying and is IMHO the "target" group
I would Like DJI ETC to VOLUNTARILY add to there phone-control AP a geo location WARNING system IE power up and display a warning that you are within XX KM of an airport and NOT to fly and another warning when you pass 400 FT AGL based on the country you are in DO NOT PREVENT the flight BUT warn the pilot that he/she is about to do something they should NOT

an AP based safeguard would be easy to implement and a selling feature "our unit will tell you BEFORE you do anything illegal" EX with news coverage of the airliner "drone" strike
and hopefully the makers can GET AHEAD of the lawmakers before they start making rules that HURT EVERYBODY


I'm a care bear...Really?
As said by other above its your brain. The problem with that is how people are raising their children and what today's society is expecting. How many times do you get annoyed when your phone, computer, tv or what ever electronic device doesn't perform like you want it to? What do you do? Do you attempt to fix it or call some number and get pissy at some CS rep who has no control over what your stuff is doing. Society today has become fixated on the moment, or as I call is "gimme gimme gimme". The immediate satisfaction is what we have been forced into wanting. No one takes the time to try and fix something or understand why an item is doing that. Those people are the ones we see in the news causing trouble for us. They expect everything to work perfectly out of the box and when it doesn't they blame someone else when 90% of the time they were at fault. No one takes responsibility anymore. Well ok maybe not all. The group that is always posting in here is not part of that group. The people with the low post counts, go back and look at the posts or topics they have started. A good number of them want something fixed for them with out understanding why. They are IMO the least safe ones out there.
Sorry this might have gotten off track but you have to understand something before you use it in order to be safe, not just expect it to work in a safe manner. That takes having a useful brain at your disposal.
^^ I wish this forum had a "thanks" button as that post requires a few thumbs up ^^

working as a line mechanic for a TL freighter it is surprising how clueless even "professional" people are - 10 years ago every driver was EXPECTED to be able to do some on road repairs now days some of them do NOT even know what the lights on the dash are telling them
I don't necessarily think that adding systems like geo fencing is the right answer. Experience, knowledge and common sense play a big roll in safety. Just like a real aircraft after finding some fault or crashing I will check over my versa-copter to make sure it is functioning properly. If I notice a motor is out of alignment I will stop and realign it so there is not possibility of anything going wrong that I can prevent. If people or animals get to close I land and wait for them to move on. In some of my crashes I have damaged a battery lead. I will not fly with that battery until I have repaired it.

Common sense goes a big way in maintaining safety just like in the construction industry here you would follow a check list to decrease hazards and risk. Eliminate hazards, Substitute hazards, Engineering, Isolate, Administration, personal protective equipment although this is in respect to the construction industry we all know we can eliminate hazards by flying some where there is little to no people or put in place some rules to how we will conduct ourselves for example the not allowed to fly within 30 meters of any person rule, if someone does come too close, land.

Common sense is called common sense for a reason, but some people still lack it.
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Junior Member
First of all thanks to all who have participated, it's interesting to have seen different views and to see the similarities in thought many of you have had. To the responses citing that brainpower is foremost in the strategy of keeping drones safe I must ask why the US Military, with such wealth in brain brawn and cash, experiences tens of drone crashes year on year? if I'm not too late to reply....


Rogue Drone Pilot
First of all thanks to all who have participated, it's interesting to have seen different views and to see the similarities in thought many of you have had. To the responses citing that brainpower is foremost in the strategy of keeping drones safe I must ask why the US Military, with such wealth in brain brawn and cash, experiences tens of drone crashes year on year? if I'm not too late to reply....
Because mechanical failures and terrorists hellbent on shooting them down happen. US Military drones have nothing to do with our hobby multi rotor drones. I really hope you didn't join this forum just to be a political troll :(
I guess the notion of safe differs in each case. We are piloting these drones for hobby purposes and safe operation would include preventing any possibility of injury to people, animals and damage to property. In the case of any military purpose, yes they want to keep it 'safe' but that is in completely different scale and purpose.

The systems are much more complicated so there is a greater chance of failure, we may have very simple setups on our short range multi rotor and model aircraft or on the other side RPAS*. Model aircraft/ multi-rotors or drones are in respect easily maintained but even then a improperly calibrated esc could bring a drone down as with mechanical failure in a military drone.

*(RPAS, Remotely Piloted Aircraft System. The Australian, CASA aviation term which implies a human is involved but that is still distinct from a model aircraft. RPAS is linked to commercial uses and require certification)

Watch the pros online and even a few flight test videos, crashing is part of the hobby, and it's put this way because we will make mistakes and things will go wrong. That is why having a 'brain' is so important, to operate these drones in a way that doesn't put anyone in danger. That is why one of the common sense rules is to not fly within 30 meters of anyone, because something may go wrong.

From what I read, I understood that brain power was the pilots ability to make quick decisions that also were in line with common sense, safety and their ability as a pilot. You wouldn't get a multi-rotor with no previous experience push it to max throttle then try and do a flip. You would start by just hovering.

Hopefully all our comments help you to construct a well written assignment.
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Faster than a speeding faceplant!
First of all thanks to all who have participated, it's interesting to have seen different views and to see the similarities in thought many of you have had. To the responses citing that brainpower is foremost in the strategy of keeping drones safe I must ask why the US Military, with such wealth in brain brawn and cash, experiences tens of drone crashes year on year? if I'm not too late to reply....
Military craft are built by brainiacs at Northrop and Lockheed, not the soldiers who fly them.

It is because the mission is different and the money is different that military drones are flown the way they are. I don't fly over people or property because I don't have orders to. No lives are at stake if I am NOT in the air. I don't take military risks because I don't have military missions or military money behind me to pay for my mistakes.

I don't have the money to build the high altitude, long range heavy drones or the insurance to handle a fatal crash into a mini-van full of kids on the highway. The military does and the soldiers who fly them are immune to prosecution if they are obeying orders.

In the military the proper question for a soldier is can I? It is the officers who decide, should I?

In 1990 I promoted myself to civilian. When I did so, I took personal responsibility for both questions.

Safety is a product of wisdom, not intelligence.

I value human lives and other people's property higher than my copters so I fly safely and choose not to fly when conditions are not safe. Soldiers value other people's lives more then their own and could give a rats butt about property or money. They have a radically different set of priorities for radically different situations than what I will find in my neighborhood.

Think of it this way. Would any civilian ever have built the A-bomb?
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