Detonating Avalanches With Explosive Drones Isn't as Stupid as it Sounds

By Chris Mills on at

The concept of dropping sticks of primed dynamite from drones near a ski resort is guaranteed to give any slope inspectors second thoughts. But considering the way things are currently done, armed flying robots would be a serious safety improvement.

Avalanche control (which, for the most part, means using explosives to safely trigger avalanches when no one’s around) is a surprisingly non-technical art. For the most part, it involves ski patrollers dropping bombs onto slopes, either by hand or from helicopters.

The more advanced resorts use fancy tricks, like pre-placed gas pipes or, uh, military tanks. But as you’d imagine, those methods aren’t perfect, since they’re a) not flexible, and b) involve firing heavy artillery.

The proposal from Mountain Drones is a lot simpler: use a multirotor UAV to drop explosives onto the top of any avalanche-prone slope. It’s reasonably cheap, safe as long as Skynet remains tamed, and very flexible.

The only real hangup is from the aviation authorities, namely the FAA. Currently, aviation guidelines allow any kind of drone that drops a payload; make that payload primed dynamite, and you have some really nervous bureaucrats. [Newschoolers]