Drone Range Tests: A Dangerous Practice Born Out Of Greed

I’ve learned so much about editing audio & video in the past week!  I’m very much looking forward to producing regular videos and learning new techniques.  It’s actually fun now that I kinda know what I’m doing with the post-production process – it’s so much different than photography but having that background definitely helps.

Anyways, so I just put up a video I knew people wouldn’t like, but you know what?  I don’t care.  It’s staying up, it’s something that needs to be said.

There have been a few folks on YouTube – with a lot of viewers, by the way – who feel that they need to validate drone manufacturer’s claims on control range.  So every time a new drone is released a number of people do these things called “range tests.”  And then other “pilots” go out and see if they can replicate it.

Why?  “To validate what the manufacturer claims.”

Again, why?  Everyone who has a drone should be flying it within line-of-sight, which is like 200 meters for some of these smaller drones, so why do you have to test if it can be flown out to four kilometers?  What does that matter?

I asked this question to one fellow with over ten thousand subscribers.  He acknowledged that it was against the law but followed that up with, “I’m doing it safely.”  No, you’re not, the very nature of the flight profile makes it unsafe.

I don’t even care about the legality of it, though that should be enough to stop you from doing something illegal and then posting it on the Internet.  Genius!

I do have actual range results if that’s what you came here looking for, and here they are: phenomenal when operating the drone within sight limits – super fast, great refresh rate, and solid lock.

Safety scenario

So before we get to the video, let me present this scenario to you.  Tell me how you’d handle it in the comments section, and continue to the video.  Scenario-based training is a common practice I used during my ten years as both a military & civilian flight instructor.

You’re flying your drone to see how far the radio works.  You lost visual contact of it 2km ago, and it’s now 2.5km away.  You suddenly lost the radio link, but it’s okay because you have the drone set to return home when the link is lost.  A low-flying helicopter starts coming your way, appearing to fly between you and your drone.  You don’t see your drone, and it never regained the signal lock, but all you know is it’s out there somewhere flying towards you and the helicopter.  What do you do?
Even if it did regain the signal, but you haven’t regained visual contact with it, how would you know which control input to make to avoid the helicopter?  The only thing I could think of to get it out of the way as quickly as possible is to shut the motors off so it drops like a rock.  But then who does it land on?

It’s only a matter of time.  Will that happen to you?

Let me know what you think, and watch the video.  Don’t forget to subscribe to see all the new stuff I’ll be putting out this year, and give this video some love!

 

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