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  • Charl Jooste

FAA Concludes That Drones Are Safer Than You May Have Thought

Ever since drones started to grow in popularity there have been numerous complaints, concerns and fears regarding safety, privacy and many other issues. This has lead to draconian restrictions and a time-consuming, complicated application process as well as heavy restrictions as to where, when and how drones are allowed to operate. There are also rule governing who is allowed to operate drones. By all indication, these rules and restrictions were only sent to become more restrictive and severe. This is something that hampers not only the recreational drone user but also is also a major hindrance to the commercial drone operator. The restrictions severely impede the progress and incredible potential drones have in numerous commercial applications that will increase productivity, safety and quality. The also have amazing security and crime-fighting applications, disaster assistance applications and numerous benefits to the health and safety of people. In a world struggling to feed the growing population, drones can also help improve crop yields and identify crop issues so that they can be addressed in time to solve the problem and avoid crop failure. These are just a few of the many applications that drones can and are being used for but the process is constantly hampered by red tape and restrictions.

Drone enthusiast, commercial operators, and manufacturers, particularly market leading civilian drone company DJI have welcomed a recent FAA-commissioned report that assures drones are no major cause for concern and we have nothing to fear from them.

In the words of the FAA, drones are safer than you may have thought. I imagine there are many people dying to say – I told you so.

What it means to the public

For those that have had a fear of drones in the past, the extensive finding of the FAA make it clear that you should have no reason to fear them.

Top drone company DJI is very excited by the findings of the FAA-commissioned report. The conclusions were put together by the Alliance for Safety System of UAS through Research Excellence, or ASSURE. Their findings state that “small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are far more safe to operate around people than earlier models had assumed.”

So while no one is saying they are completely safe, there is no need for an irrational fear of any drone or UAV in your general vicinity. As always, they should be used with consideration for the safety and privacy of others around and operated in a responsible manner.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration commissioned the ASSURE report to understand the requirements for safe drone use in populated areas. Their findings state that “unique aerodynamic and structural properties that mitigate the force involved in a collision.”

By way of comparison, in the unlikely event of a typical drone such as a DJI Phantom 3 falling on your head, the odds of it resulting in a head injury are a mere 0.03 percent.

On the other hand, the same weight of say metal or wood landing on your head has a 99 percent chance of causing a head injury. This is because, according to the report, the DJI drone absorbs much of the energy if it were to collide with an object, your head for example. In other words, very little energy is transferred to your head.

What DJI had to say

DJI’s vice president of policy and legal affairs, Brendan Schulman said, “ASSURE’s report is the first thorough scientific study of the risk drones pose to people on the ground, and we are pleased that it validates our own findings that earlier measurement standards grossly overstate the risks of injury from a drone.” He went on to say “ASSURE’s work provides a deeper scientific understanding of the kinetic and aerodynamic factors which make drones far safer than some had thought. We look forward to more detailed research that will ensure drone safety requirements and regulations are based on measurable risk, not on fear, misunderstandings, or outdated standards.”

These words were supported by comments from Dr. Walter Stockwell, DJI’s director of technical standards who stated, “This report represents groundbreaking work to understand how drone impacts would occur in the real world. This will be an important guide as the industry works to make standards for drones that fly over and near people.”

This is indeed brilliant news for drone owners, operators and those that benefit from the many important drone functions and applications. It will certainly be a great boost for the industry and help drive development to even greater heights.

Drones have already proved their value in a wide range of applications and have the ability to make a significant positive impact on a number of industries. They have huge potential to improve health and safety and are already saving lives on a regular basis. Far from being dangerous and risky, they are safe and hugely beneficial in so many ways.

This is indeed great news for the future of the drone industry.

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