On November 4, an 8.8 pound UAV in Japan crashed into a crowd during an event and injured six while attempting to dispense candy midair, according to Japan Times. A 37-year-old pilot with a custom-rigged candy drone was permitted to fly at the event to showcase future robotic technologies. The pilot claimed that the drone suddenly flew horizontal after about two minutes into the flight in an interview with a Japanese daily newspaper called Chunichi Shimbun. With drone transportation and delivery on the rise, this incidence is a worst case scenario for any drone company, yet it a possibility that must be faced for the future growth of the industry. Here’s a video of the candy drone crash posted in a Tweet by Kenranger:
Candy Drone Fail
At about 22 inches tall and 33 inches in diameter, the hexacopter plummeted at a height of nearly 33 feet. Wind was reported as a possible factor, according to Chunichi Shimbun. Minor injuries such as scratched foreheads and shoulders were reported by the local police. An estimated 100 people were gathered near the crash site, and the victims’ ages ranged from 5 to 48.
How the Crash Could Have Been Avoided
Flying above a crowd with a UAV customized with a candy drop box was a crash waiting to happen. The pilot should have considered using a drone parachute to minimize damage to the crowd and to the UAV. Even though the drone flew fairly low, the propellers and impact from a falling UAV can still cause substantial damage. Wind may have been the main factor, but stuffing the drone with candy like a flying piñata was the initial problem. This could have been avoided if the pilot thoroughly tested the exact weight of the payload prior to the event. If his drone lacked the ability to do the job, then using a more capable drone such as a DJI Wind 8 could have made a difference.
Drone Deliveries and Drone Transportation
In order for drones to become more common in delivering products and transporting people, safety will have to be prioritized. Redundant safety features such as extra motors and parachutes must utilized in future delivery drones. The Japanese candy drone that crashed may have been built for a one-time gig, but its failure has to be seen as lesson to learn from.