Surprisingly, Pilot Errors Are Not the Main Cause of Drone Crashes

By Carli Velocci on at

It wasn’t my fault that I crashed my drone. It was the drone’s fault!

This probably wouldn’t be the case every time, but according to a new study released by the RMIT University School of Engineering and published in Aerospace, it’s more likely that technical errors with the drone itself will cause a crash, compared to human error.

The researchers looked at 150 reported incidents between around 2006 and 2016, and found that 64 percent of incidents were because of technical problems. In most cases, they found that broken communication links were to blame.

This highlights one of the key problems with commercial drone traffic: there are no safeguards in place in the case of a technical error. Large aircraft, such as ones used by Airbus or Boeing, have “triple redundant systems” in place for communications, according to researcher Dr. Graham Wild. We’re still in this weird place between wanting to experiment fully with drones in every space imaginable, but also being wary about what they can do.

That means we’re going to keep finding ways that drones can be dangerous. It just means that it’s another step toward full drone takeover.

“But drones don’t and some of the improvements that have reduced the risks in those aircraft could also be used to improve the safety of drones,” Wild added. “Understanding what happens to drones, even those that don’t cause damage to people or property, is essential to improve safety.” [RMIT University]

Photo credit: Alex Brandon/AP