The UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP) is getting underway, as the chosen partners begin their trials. North Dakota is starting their trials of flight over people with a unique safety tool: Parazero‘s parachutes for drones.
North Dakota is a leader in the drone industry. With the Grand Sky Business Park, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUAS), the aerospace resources available, the university system, and a robust menu of incentives and resources for new businesses, we’ve written here that it’s one of the best places in the U.S. to start a drone company. So it was not a surprise that the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) was chosen as one of the first participants in the UAS IPP, designed to allow states to trial some drone applications beyond the scope of current regulations.
Today, the NDDOT and NPUAS announced that they’ve successfully completed the first set of test flights to evaluate flight over people in controlled environments. Flight over people could be a critical piece of regulation for media companies like CNN, also participating in the project, and law enforcement, for example.
“NDDOT is excited to work with Northern Plains UAS Test Site and partner with CNN, Botlink and ParaZero to advance research and commercialization of Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” says Russ Buchholz, UAS Integration Program Administrator at NDDOT. “We are testing the safety of UAS systems and looking at how they can operate in different types of situations.”
Sharon Imber, ParaZero’s VP of Marketing, says the company is delighted to participate with NDDOT and NPUAS. With an impressive list of overseas clients, including Asian drone delivery powerhouse Rakuten, “This is an important market for us,” says Imber. “We’ve been investing heavily in the reglation phase and beyond.”
Critical to the success of the project is demonstrating the safety of drones beyond question. ParaZero provides an elegant and unique solution – stunningly effective at detecting drone failure and arresting the fall, and equally effective at reassuring the public. In simple terms, it’s a parachute for the drone. In reality, it’s a complex drone safety system: the SafeAir box monitors flight performance, detecting any sign of potential failure. It then deploys the patented parachute, while warning bystanders underneath and notifying UTM systems. The parachute is designed to control the descent rate, even if the drone fails at a low altitude, and regardless of angle. Unlike other parachutes, it opens upwards – in about .02 seconds.
It’s an ideal tool for explaining to regulators exactly how falls can be prevented, regardless of any potential problem with a drone. And in a trial designed to show the public what drones can do, it’s a great partner.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.