A couple weeks ago, video of a DJI Spreading Wings S800 sporting a safety parachute known as DropSafe made the rounds through the drone community. But details were scarce. Dronelife recently caught up with DJI’s Michael Perry to uncover the details about the latest in commercial drone safety, including when it will be released.
The DropSafe is a ‘drop speed reduction system’ that will be compatible with all of DJI’s Spreading Wings drones (the S1000, S800 and the brand new S900) and the A2 and WKM flight controllers.
The hardware is a small triangular box (above) that sits on the center board of the drone and can deploy the parachute in less than half a second.
The system has been in development for a little over a year, Perry said: “We wanted to build a form factor that was easily reusable. Some of the other parachutes out there require you to fold the parachute just right otherwise it wont necessarily work. The nice thing about the DropSafe’s design is it allows you to just stuff the parachute into the housing and when the CO2 cartridge goes off, it expands the entire parachute automatically. It took several months of trial and error to make that work.”
According to Perry, the DropSafe will be on the market “within the next quarter.”
Obvious safety benefits aside, the development of the DropSafe was directly targeted at current and future regulatory requirements for unmanned aircraft. Countries like Hong Kong require drones used for commercial purposes to have a parachute on board whereas countries like France are considering requiring such a safety feature.
No such regulatory standard exists in the U.S., but having a parachute on board would certainly signify responsible drone ownership.
That being said, there is no plan to install a parachute in DJI’s most ubiquitous product, the Phantom.
“The DropSafe is designed primarily for professional pilots who just want to be able to fly a larger system…With the Phantom series, we don’t see that as a pressing need right now but it is something we are looking into,” Perry said.
Check out the DropSafe in action in the video below.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com