Embry-Riddle Study Shows Need for Increased Drone Safety [From Dronelife.com]

Repost: This article was originally written by Jason Reagan and posted on Dronelife.com on Oct. 22nd, 2018.


A recent study reveals that a growing number of amateur drone users are creating new dangers with risky flights.

Florida-based Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University released the study this week estimating that “only 12 percent of all detected drones were flying near unimproved land and parks.”

“More than three-fourths were flying in residential neighborhoods or near single-family homes. Another 21.5 percent hovered above commercial, industrial or public properties.”

Using a DJI AeroScope radio-frequency drone sensor, researchers monitored drone flights near Daytona Beach International Airport over a 13-day window.

After comparing 177 flights and activity with the FAA’s UAS Facility Maps, the research showed that “more than one-fifth of were flying higher than the safe altitude prescribed for their operating area.”

UAS Facility Maps show the maximum altitudes around airports where the FAA may authorize Part 107 operations without additional safety analysis.

“These data suggest that more than one in five sUAS flights presented an unmitigated risk to nearby manned aviation operations,” the authors concluded.

The FAA has projected that the small model hobbyist drone fleet will “more than double from an estimated 1.1 million vehicles in 2017 to 2.4 million units by 2022” and “the number of remote pilots is set to increase from 73,673 in 2017 to 301,000 in 2022.”

“This was an unexpected finding,” said Assistant Professor of Aeronautical Science Dr. Ryan Wallace, lead author of the study. “We thought most drone operators would choose relatively open areas offering a safety buffer from hazards, but that wasn’t the case.”

Embry-Riddle’s team suggested drone manufacturers should more frequently incorporate geofencing technology which could prevent drones from entering restricted areas.

Earlier this year, leading drone manufacturer DJI unveiled new improvements to its geofencing system that allow professional, authorized drone pilots to access unlocking codes to fly over sensitive areas while still keep away amateur users.

“[Our] geofencing system uses GPS and other navigational satellite signals to automatically help prevent drones from flying near sensitive locations such as airports, nuclear power plants and prisons.”