Attaching a GoPro camera to a personal drone gives you an aerial perspective unlike any other. That’s one reason these vehicles are getting popular with enthusiasts. But how safe would you feel walking around with those drones buzzing overhead? What if a drone suddenly drops midair or crashes into a building?
The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that by 2018, there could be as many as 7,500 small, commercial unmanned aerial systems swarming through the sky. In fact, last year Amazon announced its plan to roll out autonomous drones to help achieve speedy deliveries in the future. Today, personal drones are already in flight. “Flying above 200 feet is unnecessary with these kinds of aircraft,” says Steven Cohen, unmanned autonomous systems education coordinator at Bergen Community College. Cohen teaches STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students how to build and fly their own recreational unmanned aerial vehicles, which rely on several rotors.
Unlike their winged counterparts, recreational drones are less efficient and only have enough power for about 15 minutes of flight, according to Cohen, who is also an organizer of the New York City Drone User Group. This limitation actually doubles as an unintended safety benefit. “It can be fatiguing to fly for longer duration,” Cohen explains, and fatigue can cause accidents.
As the video explains, personal drones do have built-in safety features, including for loss of radio control or GPS signals, but he says that when it comes to safety “it really depends on the operator and someone’s experience.”
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