As the technology of drones continues to advance, they are becoming more and more commonplace. Unfortunately, there is a downside- drone crashes can cause injuries or even death. What liability do manufacturers have when a crash occurs? Are you being held responsible for your product if it causes damage? Our UAV lawyers can answer these questions and many others in this blog post.
Drones have many uses, but they can also be dangerous. The “military drones” are used for a variety of purposes including reconnaissance and surveillance. There is a chance that the drone will crash and cause injury to the user or others. If you’ve been injured by a military drone, you may need legal help from an UAV lawyer.
Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are more than simply the newest must-have technology; an increasing number of businesses are putting the little aircraft to the test in order to enhance their productivity and product offers. However, as they rise in popularity, issues about the legality of the flying gadget are being raised, such as who is liable if one crashes and where they may fly.
As manufacturers adapt to real-world conditions, every new technology is going to hit a few snags. Consumers, on the other hand, should not be forced to be guinea pigs for manufacturers while poor drone technology causes accidents and property damage. Individuals who have been wounded or have incurred other losses as a result of a drone’s operation or construction may be entitled to sue the operator or manufacturer.
What Are the Different Ways Drones Are Used?
According to the FAA, there will be seven million drones flying over the United States by 2020.
In 2016, there were 1.5 million recreational drones and 500,000 commercial drones. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that there will be seven million drones flying over the United States by 2020.
The bulk of the half million commercial drones registered in the United States are utilized for photography (29 percent of registrations) and real estate (14 percent) (18 percent ). Real estate brokers often utilize drones to take aerial images of houses, thus these two go hand in hand.
The FAA predicts that by 2020, the bulk of commercial drones would be used for industrial inspection (42%), with around a quarter for real estate or aerial photography (22%), agricultural (19%), insurance (15%), and government (15%) following closely behind (2 percent).
Drones are also being utilized and tested for delivering packages, filming athletic events, police and military monitoring of risky locations, and even animal protection.
Who Is Capable of Flying Drones?
The restrictions controlling drones are easing as the number of drones in the air increases.
Prior to August 2016, drone owners had to seek an FAA exemption in order to fly them for business reasons. Operators may now earn a remote pilot license for $150 by passing a multiple-choice exam.
Drones used by hobbyists do not need a license. Drones that weigh less than 55 pounds and are only used for recreational reasons do not need to be registered with the FAA. Users must merely follow the FAA’s safety standards, which include staying away from airports, flying over 400 feet, and flying beyond the operator’s line of sight.
Drone-assisted “traffic control” is still in its early stages.
The FAA anticipates that its collision avoidance rules will not be finalized until 2019.
The FAA and NASA are presently collaborating with Google’s Alphabet X lab to develop UAV air traffic control software that will enable drones to share their flight paths. Without the need for drone pilots to interfere, the program analyzes the acquired data to autonomously redirect drones that are likely to collide. The FAA might utilize the technology to enforce no-fly zones once it is operational.
The technology is still in its early stages, with just six drones having been tested thus far. Until the FAA completes its collision avoidance requirements in 2019, the sky will be devoid of an organized drone traffic management system.
How good are drones at avoiding collisions?
Drones are unmanned aircraft that range in weight from less than 5 kilograms to two tonnes. A drone is made up of two parts: a battery-powered unmanned flying aircraft that uses propellers to fly and a remote control system.
Because of the limited battery size that most recreational drones accommodate, they can only fly for a few minutes. Drones with more advanced features, such as infrared cameras, GPS systems, and lasers, can fly for many hours and are often utilized by the military.
Obstacle detection and collision avoidance technology, similar to that used by self-driving automobiles to prevent collisions, is a key new function of drones.
LiDAR technology, which is also used in self-driving automobiles, is employed in certain versions of drone collision avoidance technology. LiDAR detects things and creates comprehensive photos of the drone’s surroundings using laser beams and radar technologies. However, this technology is often too costly and heavy for smaller drones to sustain.
The front-facing cameras on the Phantom 4 only detect collisions that are directly in front of the drone, not to the side or behind it.
Obstacle collision avoidance technology is promoted as a feature of the DJI quadcopter Phantom 4 (the most popular commercial drone), however drone hobbyists have already revealed its shortcomings. The two front-facing cameras can only detect collisions that are directly in front of the drone, not to the sides or behind it. This implies that frequent barriers to the left or right of a drone, such as walls or tree branches, might still cause a crash.
When the drone is operated in “sport mode,” which enables it to go at speeds of up to 44 mph, the object collision avoidance system fails completely. When a Gizmodo tech writer flew his Phantom 4 into a baseball cage in sport mode, it crashed and destroyed it.
Aside from faulty obstacle detecting technology, some drone owners have had trouble piloting their drones, forcing them to fly out from the user’s line of sight and crash into power lines or other people’s property.
A class action lawsuit has been filed against Onagofly F115 for false advertising.
Consumers are retaliating against drones that do not perform as claimed. Shenzen Sunshine Technology Development of China, Acumen Robot Intelligence of California, and Sam Tsu of dba Onagofly were named in a federal class action complaint filed in March of this year.
Plaintiffs accused defendants of deception and fraud in their marketing of the Onagofly F115. Plaintiffs claimed that “the drone often flies away and crashes,” and that “there is also no ‘follow me’ option as promised, nor was there an obstacle-avoidance function as promised” in their lawsuit against Onagofly.
The firms used crowdfunding to gather $3.5 million to produce the Onagofly F115, money that the plaintiffs allege they would not have spent if they had known what the final product would be like.
Drones collide with the White House grounds, and the Space Needle is damaged
High-profile accidents are occurring around the nation as manufacturers strive to enhance drone obstacle recognition and collision avoidance software. Not only may these accidents cause property damage, but they also raise concerns about public safety and security.
On New Year’s Eve 2016, a drone collided with Seattle’s Space Needle. While pyrotechnicians were preparing pyrotechnics for that evening, the drone crashed through the ceiling. Although no casualties or property damage were recorded, law police had to handle public fears of an assault.
In January 2015, a hobbyist unintentionally crashed his drone into White House grounds, raising similar security concerns. The drone was not detected by the Secret Service because the White House radar was designed to identify bigger aircraft such as planes and missiles.
In the summer of 2017, a drone crashed with electricity lines in Mountain View, California, knocking out power for 1,600 households for two hours. The mishap caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage, according to officials.
Have Drones Caused Any Injuries?
The bulk of drone injuries, according to RMIT University researchers, are caused by technology defects.
When drones crash with people, serious injuries may result. Despite the fact that unskilled drone pilots are generally to blame for drone accidents, experts have verified that technology inadequacies are to blame for the vast majority of drone casualties.
Between 2006 and 2015, RMIT University studied data from 152 drone crashes provided by the FAA and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. They determined that a loss of connection between drones and their control systems was the most prevalent cause of drone failure.
Any collision has the potential to inflict property damage or injuries. However, the bigger the drone, the more catastrophic the crash.
The repercussions of human-drone collisions are being studied by Virginia Tech researchers. They documented the impact of a head-on drone collision using crash test dummies. They found that the danger of serious neck injury was less than 10% with average-sized smaller drones. However, the danger for the larger drones increased to 70%.
Trevor Bauer, a professional baseball player, demonstrated how severe drone injuries may be in front of a stadium full of baseball fans. When one of his drone’s propellers abruptly began while he was working on it, he suffered ten stitches to his pinky. During the first inning of a 2016 playoff game, his finger burst open, causing him to leave the game.
When a drone recording overhead video of the event crashed with a triathlete in Australia in 2013, she needed sutures. Prior to the incident, the photographer who owned the drone stated that the controls were stolen from him. The Australian government had neither approved the operator or the photographic company to fly drones.
Two years later, a drone filming the Seattle Pride Parade from the air collided with a structure and plummeted onto the throng. It wounded two persons, one of them was knocked out. The drone pilot was convicted of reckless endangerment and was sentenced to 30 days in prison.
Have a Drone-Related Legal Question?
Our lawyers are keeping a close eye on drone regulations and are looking into liability. You may be able to file a lawsuit if you were wounded by a drone or had your privacy invaded. For a free, no-obligation legal consultation, contact us now.
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