A drone crash is every drone pilot’s worst nightmare. The potential consequences include drone damage and damage or injury to property or people on the ground.
Drone parachutes are among the best ways to avoid severe damage caused by drone crashes. How exactly do these drone parachutes work, and how reliable are they? When are drone parachutes required?
A drone parachute is intended to reduce a drone’s terminal velocity if it crashes. All commercially available drones do not include a built-in parachute. Instead, it is frequently a third-party accessory manufactured by specialty companies that must be professionally installed on a drone.
Drone parachute systems are also known as “drone recovery systems” in the industry. This implies that their primary goal is to allow for the safe recovery of a drone, even if it is out of control.
This article will discuss five reasons to install a parachute on your drone.
How Do Drone Parachutes Work?
A drone parachute reduces the impact energy on the ground when a drone crashes. Its purpose is to keep people and objects on the ground safe and to keep the drone from being destroyed. In case, all other safety measures fail, a parachute serves as the last line of defense, safely bringing down a malfunctioning drone.
The effectiveness of these systems in averting severe incidents can be seen when comparing the impact energy of a 10-kg drone falling from 50 meters. This, however, necessitates parachutes being reliably activated and deployed quickly, which is accomplished in very different ways by the current market systems.
1. Protect Drones
Commercial drones are a worthwhile investment but come at a hefty price tag of thousands of dollars. That is why it is critical to safeguard them. A parachute may appear expensive, but it is likely less expensive than purchasing a new drone, especially if it fails more than once, given that drone parachutes are reusable.
Furthermore, commercial drones are frequently outfitted with expensive sensors, lenses, or other cargo. LiDAR sensors can range in price from $65,000 to $100,000. A parachute protects all of these things by slowing the drone’s fall, so it’s critical to research all available drone parachutes to find the one that fits the drone’s weight.
2. Regulations Suggest They May Become Mandatory
The best long-term reason for drone parachutes may be regulatory. The drone parachute industry sees its greatest potential in the delivery and cargo market. This market segment will operate in BVLOS conditions or over people in cities. As a result, parachute systems will be required for these types of operations, especially as they become more common in the coming years.
Not surprisingly, the reason for these regulations, as well as the requirement for drone parachutes in BVLOS and operations over people, is to protect people in the event of a worst-case scenario of mid-air failure. As a result, once these regulations go into effect, drone parachutes are likely to become more common and mandatory.
3. Protect People and Infrastructures
Even if a parachute does not completely stop a drone’s falling speed, the impact is far less severe than free fall. This is critical not only for the drone but also for any bystanders who may be beneath the drone or any sensitive structures that may be damaged. In other words, ensuring the safety of people and other infrastructure from a falling drone is yet another compelling reason to invest in a drone parachute.
4. Drone Parachutes Represent A Last Line of Defense
Drone parachutes are critical in an emergency when everything else to keep the drone in the air has failed. Naturally, no one wants a drone to malfunction or crash in mid-flight. However, this is entirely outside of the pilot’s control (assuming they have carried out regular checks between missions). Furthermore, in the worst-case scenario, where a drone is in freefall above a crowd of people, it is obvious that a pilot cannot retroactively deploy a parachute that was not present in the first place.
5. Protect Drones Cargo
The parachute protects whatever valuable the drone carries in the form of cargo. This prevents financial risks and creates confidence in reliability in case of an accident.
How Are Drone Parachutes Activated?
Activation can occur manually via a remote trigger or automatically via onboard failure detection. Manual activation is very reliable, but it depends on the pilot’s judgment and reaction time. As a result, it is usually ineffective at saving a drone operating at a low altitude.
On the other hand, automatic activation monitors variables like descent rate, pitch, and roll angles to identify “unnatural” drone behavior. The parachute is deployed if a predefined value, or set of values, is exceeded. This happens very quickly—usually, before the pilot notices the drone tumbling or falling- confusing early users who thought their activations were false alarms.
Parachutes can significantly improve the safety of drone operations, but they require an initial financial investment. They are an optional safety feature for low-risk flight operations, but they can be critical in more challenging environments.
As operators strive to make drone services more widely available, they push the envelope by flying further out of sight and over more populated areas. Suppose you intend to apply for a waiver for this mission. In that case, you should weigh the benefits of installing a parachute, as regulators worldwide will require one as a condition of approving such operations.
Avoiding crashes and costly repairs can lower the overall drone costs, making a parachute an affordable investment. When shopping for a system, remember that it should be light, automatic, and reliable, with integrated flight termination. This system is available at many drone stores and most manufacturer websites.