Fly Away Drone
As avid followers of drone news, the knee-jerk reaction of the Dronelife staff was, “some idiot probably lost control of his Phantom.”
But the thing is, in 99% of “2 foot wide quadcopter” crashes, the quadcopter is a DJI Phantom and cause of the crash is either attributed to a ‘fly away‘, pilot idiocy, or both.
As more details emerged, we discovered the drone in question was, in fact, a DJI Phantom. The pilot (who quickly fessed up) works for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the drone belonged to a friend, and the pilot reportedly “had been drinking.”
For media outlets, this might have been the lowest hanging fruit in the history of click bait headlines:
Right on cue, Obama weighed in on the situation in an interview with CNN.
The soundbite everyone has fixated on is, “We don’t have any regulatory structure at all for [drone technology]”… we don’t have the legal structure and architecture, both globally and in individual countries, to manage them in the way that we need to.”
As a result, the more current batch of headlines look like this:
While this is a step in the right direction headline-wise, and Obama is correct that we need rules in place, no one has actually taken any action yet.
…Except DJI, the company that manufactured the drone in question. On Wednesday DJI announced a new firmware update, to be released by the end of the week, that would restrict Phantom drones from flying into, or taking off from, any area within 15 miles of downtown D.C.
No committee. No vote. No public input. Just solution and execution.
That’s what people are failing to realize about this whole debacle. Everyone is asking ‘how is the government going to prevent this from happening again?’ but the truth is, the drone manufacturers and software developers are going to be the ones who who solve this problem.
It’s much easier to write code than a law.
Capitol Hill can pass laws that make flying drones in D.C. illegal but -brace yourself for some hard truth- people break laws all the time.
Driving under the influence is against the law and yet the United States has averaged about 10K drunk driving related deaths per year for the last five years.
The good news is, that number will plummet in the near future as self-driving cars enter the mainstream.
Automation is ensuring you only make good decisions and drones, in their ideal state, are nothing if not autonomous.
So the next time something like this happens (and it will) let’s agree not to condemn the technology and the federal officials failing to regulate it. Instead, ask yourself, “Is it really the technology’s fault? Could a law really have prevented this from happening?”
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