It has happened to me twice. It’s only a little scary, but it’s entirely disheartening. It makes you never want to pilot a drone again. I’m talking about watching a drone drop out of the sky out of control, plummeting to the ground with a crunch and groin of anguish.
The thing is, even though both drones were out of my control, only one of them was actually out of control, and only one incurred damage. The accidental reason for the non-damaged drone is the basic technique a new drone patent looks to utilize for future drone safety.
Meteomatics, a weather forecasting company, is looking to use drones to track the weather, and has a patent application that spins their drones to the ground in the event of a failure.
The idea is simple, Mateomatics is looking to build symmetrical drones, then form the propeller arms to mimic propellers themselves. In the event of a power failure, the drone would go into a spin – the air resistance helps slow the drone and the spin of the drone keeps it from tumbling and veering off course.
My toy-class drone, the Syma X5-C suffered a power failure during flight once. As the small drone dropped out of the sky, I fully expected it to tumble and incur damage, but it did not. While the entire drone itself did not go into a spin, the propellers began to spin backward. This visibly slowed the decent of the drone.
The natural resistance of the brushed motors fought against spinning, allowing the air to pass through, but creating further drag. There was enough drag in the passively spinning motors that when the drone landed in the grass, it barely bounced. Despite my fears, there was absolutely no signs of damage, it just got a little dirty.
The other drone I watched plummet was not symmetrical or balanced, it did not spin, it tumbled, it broke.
It is my opinion that Mateomatics is on the right track with their spinning drone concept. I hope they read this, take my idea of adding some extra resistance to their motors when they begin spinning backward, to help reduce falling speeds. They could then decide to send me a review unit. I’ll test out a falling drone and let you all see how it works out.
Also, we’ll be keeping an eye on Mateomatics, a Swiss company building extremely high-flying drones and applying for U.S. Patents.
Do you think drones should be equipped with parachutes as a safety measure?