While Tom Petty’s 1989 hit Free Fallin’ is one of the best songs of the 1980s (it is; don’t argue), it’s not an anthem commercial drone operators are keen on adopting. In fact, a drone in free fall is usually followed by a wallet-emptying crash that is anything but free.
Whether it’s a high-profile crash onto the Leader of the Free World’s lawn or a hawk attack or something more mundane like crashing your new Phantom, the sickening sound of a UAV kissing the earth is a problem waiting for a solution – a solution like SmartChutes.
Developed by Nashville-based drone videographer Michael Pick, SmartChutes lives up to its name. It’s a parachute system that deploys automatically before your drone crashes. SmartChutes expels a 36-inch chute from a spring-loaded canister if the system’s onboard sensor array detects the UAV slide into freefall or invert more than 90 degrees.
As Pick began to transition to aerial videographer, he said the thought of losing hundreds of dollars in a UAV crash motivated him to develop a safety net for drones.
“My quadcopter was equipped with absolutely nothing that would save it if something bad happened in the air. What if something went wrong? Can I really afford to lose everything? I’m sending all this gear hundreds of feet into the air without any protection,” Pick said. “I’ve watched countless videos on YouTube of people destroying their expensive camera and gimbal equipped quadcopters because of some random battery or motor failure.”
Since the chute system includes its own battery, a total drone power failure won’t affect deployment. Although SmartChutes deploys in less than 350 milliseconds after detection of a problem, Pick recommends flying above 50 meters to give the chute time to deploy.
The Kickstarter project is already gaining traction in the tech media. Upstart.com declares:
“I love seeing the peripheral industries supporting the drone world beginning to grow because it means the drones are more likely to be here for good. This is a particularly good addition to that market. We’ve all seen the videos of drones meeting an untimely death because the battery failed, it got out of range or something else. It’s hard (but addicting) to watch. The Smart Chute drone parachute would have saved many of those drones.”
For only $130, Kickstarter funders can stake their claim for an early-bird model you can contribute to the campaign right here.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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