7 Days, 7 Questions: #7 Why Don’t Drones Crash?
By our tracking, this is our 99th blog post since we started our commitment to write a post each and every business day. We began on January 9 earlier this year – and we’ve met our commitment!
To help to get our drone blog over the finish line, we came up with the idea of running 7 questions in 7 days, and it’s been a wonderful experience as we’ve explored some very unique drone industry topics.
Which leads us to this, the 7th question – and probably one of the most common questions about our industry. Why don’t these darn things crash more? They seem fragile, small, and simply like a toy.
That belief is probably driven, to a degree, by all those “Favourite Drone Crash Fail” videos which you see on Youtube (and we will admit to a guilty pleasure in watching some of them…) But most of those crashes occur due to negligence, bad planning, ill conceived flight plans or the fact that the operators are new, too excited, and are really just playing with a new toy.
For us, our drones are our most important capital asset next to our computer processing hardware. We are not about to do anything foolhardy to put that asset at risk – and so careful flight planning combined with the sophistication built into today’s modern drone platforms provides us a high degree of reliability with respect to our flight control operations.
First and foremost, most of the professional grade drones used by a company such as LI&D are eningeered NOT to crash. They feature sophisticated forms of radar and location awareness to keep them away form obstacles – which intuitively, goes by the phrase “Obstacle Avoidance Software.
Second, our detailed flight planning process, which we documented in the blog post below, includes a very careful site survey and analysis that we will program into our flight path. We examine for trees, power lines and other items-of-altitude that could impact our flight, and account for these in our detailed flight plan. The drone software will combine this with its GPS analysis to come up with the best optimal, safe route.
Third, these industrial grade drones include a ‘Return to Base” feature that will always enable the drone to, well, return to base in the case of an expected battery drain, loss of radio signal, excessive winds or other unsafe flight conditions.
Fourth, experience and professionalism matters! We aren’t some wild-eyed excited on Christmas morning with a new toy to explore and enjoy, but a professional for whom safe and reliable flying is a livelihood! (Though we will admit to being that wild eyed child some years back! There is a magical mystery to the technology that still causes us to marvel at the beauty of flight.)
Fifth, the drones we use are really sophisticated computers with rotors. They include continual GPS tracking and analysis, comparing real time data to the pre-established flight plan – and will abort and ‘return to base’ in the case of any anomalies.
Last but not least, for reasons of safety – and more important, as required by government regulation – all of our flights occur on the basis of ‘visual line-of-sight.’ We can see our drone at all times, even far at distance and height. The industry has not yet transitioned to “beyond visual line of sight flying,’ and when it does, that will be a BIG THING, as it will vastly expand the opportunities for insight from altitude and the business applications of this marvellous technology.
Factor all of these issues in, and it is extremely rare for a commercial drone operator to suffer a catastrophic failure.
The biggest potential risk? Maybe a nesting hawk who might see a potential intruder in their airspace!