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U.S. proposes to allow drone operation at night, over people (reuters.com)
134 points by tareqak 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 193 comments



One thing the drones really need to do before being deployed en masse (besides safety) is to become relatively silent. They are quite loud. I can hear a single one from about 1/2 mile away. I can't imagine what it will be like if many are flying all over, at all times. It will be like everybody is living next to an airport - something I consciously choose to not live close to due to noise pollution. Quality of life will go down, and people will become very annoyed. I own 2 drones. They are very loud and there isn't much you can do to quiet them. They are helicopters with 4x the number of blades on very tiny motors that spin very fast and are loud.


Tangent: I don’t think I’ve ever been more incensed than when I learned Harley Davidsons are quiet out of the factory and people make them loud. And while I can get a ticket for something trivial, I’ve never heard of someone getting a ticket for riding a motorcycle or car that’s obnoxiously loud and can be heard a mile away. My point, I guess, cities, townships, what have you, don’t care about noise.


My point, I guess, cities, townships, what have you, don’t care about noise.

Cities, townships, what have you, will care about whatever their active constituents tell them to.

It took a few years, but a neighborhood organization managed to get a crackdown on motorcycle noise in Chicago. I don't know if it worked because I moved away before it went into effect. But there was a ton of press coverage for a very long time, so there's no way the offending riders could know that people don't like them.

Loud Motorcycles In Alderman's Crosshairs As LSD Noise Monitoring Starts: https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20170824/lincoln-park/loud-m...


> My point, I guess, cities, townships, what have you, don’t care about noise.

I think the poster was referring to active constituents.

But I think you are wrong. I don't know of anybody who wants a loud car or bike trekking by their house. But yet it still happens over and over.

It is unclear if enough "active constituents" are not complaining or they are ignored.


I don't but I know some people are delighted at the sound of some sport cars.


I don't but I know some people are delighted at the sound of some sport cars.

I don't disagree. But in context.

On track day at the local race track? Sure. At a professional sporting event? Great. Going down a residential street when people are trying to sleep? No way.


I live on a hill with a busy intersection at the bottom. I get to listen to trucks with jake brakes going down the hill and people accelerating out of the intersection. I don't exactly live somewhere high class so vehicles with rusted out exhausts and Civics with fart cans abound. It doesn't bother me one bit. You get used to it.

It's people in gated communities and quiet suburban neighborhoods where there is rarely much noise who complain about noise because the baseline amount of noise they experience is so low that every single loud noise is highly noticeable.


Unsure why you're being downvoted, but in my experience, this is absolutely correct.

When I lived on a busy intersection, the noise level was always there, it just became background.

When I lived near a flightpath, the sound of airlines was regularly there, and it also just became background.

I now live in a very quiet area, and every passing motorbike is a disturbance.

Then again, the other thing that's changed is my age and expectations of life. Whether or not that's related or not, I dunno.


I've had the opposite experience. I lived in downtown SF. The noise of a loud motorcycle going by is substantively different from the ordinary background noise of city life. Unlike every other noise, you can't e.g. talk while it's going by.

There is very good reason to treat it differently from the usual honks and airbrakes.


FWIW, California changed the minimum ticket for noise violations on vehicles to $1000 this year. They are apparently cracking down on it, as they have abolished the “fix it ticket” that used to allow the vehicle to be repaired and then the ticket is commuted. Now, the officer must fine you.


I once had the exhaust pipe before my catalytic converter on my car fall out due to a bump and some rust that had been building up. My car suddenly became very very loud, louder than I had ever realized it could be. I was quite embarrassed while driving the car home, and soon got it fixed. It wasn't especially expensive to fix. If that happened in California I might get a $1000 ticket? Or is the large ticket only for intentionally loud and illegal exhausts.


I think in your specific case it would be up to the officer's discretion if you were pulled over for it. About 20 years ago I worked the night shift at a warehouse and my car's passenger side headlight went out on my way to work. I had time to stop at a parts dealer before they closed and picked up a new headlight, but I didn't have time to install it so I chucked it in the back seat and drove on to my job. I was pulled over right before pulling into work, and the trooper was reading me the riot act over the light. When I could get a word in I explained to him that it went out on me while driving, and I stopped to get one and planned to install it on my lunch break. I pointed to it in the back seat and showed him my receipt. He seemed pissed that his ranting was not necessary, but he didn't write me a ticket and instructed me to definitely install it that night because he'd be waiting for me on my trip home.

Perhaps I was lucky to get a cop who wasn't so much of an asshole that he'd write me a ticket despite seeing my best intentions to deal with a situation that could happen to anyone. Then again, I could have been pulled over by a guy who would have started off nice and thanked me for being conscientious enough to stop for the part that night.


>I think in your specific case it would be up to the officer's discretion if you were pulled over for it

So people that don't make a good impression get screwed out of a grand they probably don't have. Relying on the benevolence of police is not going to work out well for average people in the long run.


So what happens if a headlight or turn signal goes out while you're in the middle of your drive? Do you immediately pull over and call a tow to avoid having a officer pull you over and slap you with a 1k ticket because your light bulb decided to go bad right then? What about if a rear break light goes out, only way to usually know about those ones is if someone alerts you to it.


I dont think he meant the fix it tickets for everything, just for purposely loud vehicles.


I know you don't have rust in CA but if they had a $1k fine where I live that would be just a massive slap in the face to poor people driving old cars (the exhaust rusts out and you don't know until it happens). I get that making cars more expensive is popular in certain places but unfortunately the reality is that a ton our infrastructure is based around them and the negative consequences of hidden costs like this are greater than then gain from forcing a few people to give up driving because they can't afford it.


I don't know why you're getting downvoted but I'll second this. I had the same thought when my home state decided to double-the-double damages for some tickets (e.g. speeding in construction zone). For many if not most individuals and families in my low-income state a $1,000 ticket could start a cascade of disasters that ends with them losing their transportation, job, and place of living. It's cruelty pure and simple. Especially since a lack of public transportation means you don't have a choice not to own a car, here.


Maybe people who can't afford a $1000 ticket for speeding in a construction zone shouldn't speed in a construction zone?

One of the reasons states increase fines regressively is because the targeted acts are committed most frequently by those at the lower end of the income spectrum, and existing fine amounts were insufficient to deter such activity.


Don't automatically pay it. Go to court and ask the county clerk to speak to a judge to get the fine waived. Depending on your county, this may or may not work, but you should always do this first. In many cases, the clerk on behalf of the judge will waive it for you and require you to pay a small processing fee.


This is fantastic news!


Oh please, I have owned two new ones, the last in 2017. They are not exactly "quiet" as new but not nearly as loud as those who straight pipe. After market pipes certified for road use still must meet Federal law. Plus recently as for more current models the EPA slapped HD with fines and future penalties over the modification of the engine and exhaust which really has cut down on the noise because HD will void your warranty with the EPA blessing if you use unapproved modifications which includes exhaust. Plus Harley isn't unique in attracting drivers/riders who make their exhaust system obnoxiously loud and yes they annoy many of their fellow HD riders too - they get to ride in the back of the pack.

Plus if you are in California look up AB1824 which changed the loud exhaust regulations to assess a fine in every case. Used to be if you got pulled you could simply produce a receipt stating you fixed the loud exhaust and pay no fine but people were skirting that with obvious success. So yes, governments do care. Some HOA and Condo association ban all motorcycles because of noise.

Now with regards to drones, noisy little suckers. The other issue is a private citizen is heavily restricted where they can even fly them. State parks are off limits in most states, any place where people gather of course is out, you can even be blocked from flying them on your property by many HOA and Condo associations (mentioned them before for similar reasons).

Locally to me, Cobb County Georgia has an association for model aircraft that may support drones. They have their own field put in with tax dollars but "maintained" by user fees. Don't even think of using it until you pony up to two different organizations and an initiation fee and such. Yet places which are set aside for the legal use of drones may end up being this way unless the industry adapts.

My father's recent DJI purchase did not automatically include the propeller guards, seems there is good profit in selling replacement blades. It definitely is noisy and I would expect research into blade technology can remedy some of that, surely the military has already done so.


> My father's recent DJI purchase did not automatically include the propeller guards, seems there is good profit in selling replacement blades.

you don't necessarily want prop guards most of the time. they make the props less efficient, which decreases aerodynamic performance and battery life.


IMO, the Spark should come with them- DJI encourages users to launch and land directly on their hand.


that's a fair point. you shouldn't encourage your customers to do something like that without including the bits of plastic that make it safe.

that said, I got the combo bundle with rotor guards and I almost never use them because they make the drone so squirrelly in wind. I hand launch/land every time and I have yet to cut myself on the rotors. I was very happy to have them when I used the drone to check all my gutters for leaves, takes a lot of the stress out of flying so close to the roof.


There is an electric BMW that has a loudspeaker in a fake exhaust pipe to make it sound like a petrol engine to people outside of the car.

I think the negative effects of noise pollution are underestimated. It's never properly taken into account when people plan things. Part of it is many people don't understand just how soul destroying it can be (yet).


> has a loudspeaker in a fake exhaust pipe to make it sound like a petrol engine

This is however exceptionally helpful for blind people navigating near a road.

I haven't seen the BMW in question so it might be unnecessarily loud, but electric cars are often so quiet you could barely hear one coming.


But should blind people rely on sound to cross in the first place? Many european cities are pushing for more cycling. Bicycles are pretty much totally silent and can go as fast as a car typically goes in a busy city.


I don't think it would ever be the chosen option and guide dogs, human assistance, etc. would all be preferable. But sometimes those just won't be available.

One of the more dangerous aspects is in areas where cars are reversing / manoeuvring at low speeds - e.g. car parks. I'm fully sighted and still occasionally have a near miss with an electric / hybrid that I haven't noticed reversing!

Bicycles do present some measure of danger, albeit reduced thanks to the lower momentum & crushing power.

Some material from the RNIB, a UK charity: https://www.rnib.org.uk/rnibconnect/silent-deadly-electric-h...


Are blind people stepping out in front of bicycles because they can't hear them?


It's like drawing a horse on an early petrol engine car...


Yeah, or giving a car a shiny fur coat and neatly trimmed mane.


I am not advocating loud motorcycles but as a rider I know from experience that cars on the roads will pay more attention and give more caution to a louder motorcycle.

A simple fender bender on a motorcycle can be fatal which is the reasoning behind the phrase "Loud pipes save lives."

Are some people doing it to be obnoxious? Probably. Are some people doing it out of the desire for increased safety? Yes.


My car would be safer with a super-loud siren that blares continuously to announce my prescence, but I don't do it because I live in a society and I wouldn't like it if everyone else did that.


which is the reasoning behind the phrase "Loud pipes save lives."

No, the reasoning is to come up with some plausible excuse to run open pipes. Safety, however, is a cloud of bullshit to distract you from the thirteen year old boy in leather making vroom-vroom noises.

You wanna “save lives”? Ride like you’re invisible. Because that “cars pay more attention to loud pipes” bullshit is going to get you killed with a false sense of security.

Signed, 35 years of riding on stock pipes, and haven’t collided with a car yet.


Harley’s are terrible motorcycles with severe safety compromising design flaws made for stylistic reasons — the argument that they should be made loud for real safety reasons employs deeply flawed reasoning.

I rode a (non Harley, well engineered) motorcycle for years and always thought the claim that you needed to make your bike loud to enhance perception was bollocks. The right answer is to always ride with the awareness that people can’t/don’t see you and plan lane position accordingly.


You are making two false dichotomies.

Even if Harley's have other safety compromises, loud pipes can make them safer. Even if you ride with awareness, loud pipes can make you safer. There is generally a lack of hard evidence, but it only makes sense that they would to me.

It can simultaneously be true that loud pipes save lives and loud pipes annoy people; whether the tradeoff is worth it to you is the real question.


There is generally a lack of hard evidence, but it only makes sense that they would to me.

The lack of hard evidence should be your first clue, because you know the loud pipes crowd would crow to sunset if there were even the slightest shred of evidence. But it “makes sense”, does it? How many things did we think we knew because it “makes sense” until one day, “turns out...”?

So one must first establish that loud pipes save lives. And the onus is on the one making that claim.


Loud pipes direct sound out and back, so anyone ahead of you, e.g. at an intersection or in oncoming traffic, still isn't going to hear you.

"Loud pipes save lives" has never been proven by any data. Decent article/rant about this saying: https://www.revzilla.com/common-tread/stop-saying-loud-pipes...


> severe safety compromising design flaws made for stylistic reason

Could you explain what exactly ?


People buy Harley’s for the twin cam engine which vibrates a lot and “if you have to ask why this is good then you wouldn’t understand”. The marketing for Harley’s is very much about buying into “worse is better” for “cool” factor — and for social signaling that you might know how to turn your own wrenches.

The joke is that Harley owners spend more time in the garage with their bikes than riding them. They require a lot of maintenance to keep running. From a risk perspective, the onerously frequent maintenance requirements increase the chance of a mechanic introduced error having negative safety outcomes. The fact that every owner basically “has” to work on the bikes rather extensively means that they are more likely in general to be worked on by not so qualified mechanics. The extensive customization culture surrounding the bikes also comes with a lot of really easy ways for safety compromising designs to be introduced via ill thought out customization.

These may seem like small factors but all of them represent much more real risks than the imagined safety benefit that might come by making your bike excessively loud. Someone telling you to ride a Harley and also telling you to make it loud for safety is not giving good safety advice — to maximize safe riding you should never try to lower the responsibility of the rider to be aware of other drivers not seeing them - you can’t make yourself more visible by being loud and shouldn’t encourage someone to think this will work and thereby encourage them to not proactively defend themselves from a driver who might not see them.

There are other safety relevant issues with the bike design — notoriously bad brakes and gearboxes, poor suspension, heavy with a low center of gravity that makes turning a relatively higher effort activity for shorter riders and generally makes recovery from problem scenarios more difficult, the “Harley wobble” (yes wobble can happen with other bikes but it tends to be more severe with Harley’s) ...

It’s probably also worth pointing out that there have been something like 4 large recalls in the last 5 years for clutch problems that can lead to sudden brake failure. Also, the twin cam engine design is inherently not long lasting with many failure modes which means breakdowns are common (engine failure/fluid leaks are not generally conducive to safety).


If you think more modern Harley's(twin cams, evolutions)are unreliable I guess you'd say the older ones didn't run at all. The fact something can vibrate and shake so much and leave the Stealership with rattling apart is a feat of engineering.

With cam tensioners changed you'll get 100k out of a twincam before needing work with just oil and tires(and whatever parts rattle off).

Harley's trying to innovate(electric bikes/scooters, dual sport). Problem is their consumer base is stuck in past/vanishing. Some people use fountain pens instead of more modern pens, even though they might be more inconvenient/expensive. While I only own Japanese bikes now, I can't deny there is a 'feeling' of riding a Harley.


I fully agree that they're shitty bikes (for the money, everything is relative to cost obviously) but I'm not sure it matters when it comes to safety. Mechanical failure/vehicle performance is still basically a rounding error compared to humans being dumb when it comes to causes of crashes.


Sibling comment has good points. My go-to was years back when HD put a single disc with a single piston caliper up front. Anything Japanese at that point put two discs, usually multiple pistons. Some sport bikes were running monster six piston calipers.

And there’s that fat-ass Harley hauling it’s bulk down with that one scrawny disc and anemic caliper. ‘cuz, you know, style. Always seemed like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Can you imagine a car manufacturer saying, “the braking system is not even close to state-of-the-art because it wouldn’t look good”?


By that logic, wearing a helmet is also "deeply flawed reasoning"


I don’t think this is true at all — helmets are very useful safety equipment when motorcycle riding. Protection from bugs and airborne rocks is very real — I had some rides where I had to pull over and clean my helmet visor to see through all the grasshopper guts I’d hit — flying objects will hit you and very likely cause an accident or at least a lot of discomfort if you have no face protection. Helmets are worth it on those points alone even if you discard the (very real, very substantiated) potential to turn fatal impacts into survivable impacts.

That said — wearing a helmet can cause one to take more risks out of a belief in greater survivability odds. On the track in full safety gear — the odds of crash survival really can be high enough to justify the extra risk taking mentality — loud pipes don’t boost survivability to anything remotely the same degree as helmets — in my opinion it’s very likely that someone who genuinely (and mistakenly) believes their loud pipes make them more perceivable will allow that belief to influence their actions and be very likely to drive less defensely.

On the general topic of helmets increasing risk taking — I actually do think this belief can lead to meaningful increase in chance of mistakes in other contexts. I’m an avid rock climber — a very small percentage of climbers always wear a helmet but most only wear one when doing climbs with significant amount of loose rock. The main safety use of a helmet when climbing is protection from falling rocks or other objects — there are some rare circumstances when a helmet could protect you when you fall but those are quite unusual — generally only happen when you get flipped upside which usually only happens when you mismanage the rope position. It’s _possible_ the helmet could help protect from a climbing fall but much better protection is to correctly manage rope position which is necessary, typically straightforward, and also something you are unlikely to do wrong when climbing at your level. If you put a helmet on and suddenly feel “able” to take more risks when climbing you are making a big mistake — the very marginal extra fall safety of the helmet is not worth increasing your risk taking at all — but it can often be hard to avoid increase to risk taking even when you are aware the increase is not justified. In my opinion, the helmet is not worth making this trade off (except in areas with lots of risk of rockfall or dropped gear from parties above).


Loud pipes distract drivers in cars which makes them less safe on the road.


As far as laws dealing with vehicle noise pollution, it greatly depends on where you live. I'm in a relatively rural town that is considered part of the Metro Atlanta area, and we have a lot of strange laws as a result. For example, there is a local noise ordinance that allows police to ticket a driver for a noisy muffler on a car or truck any time of day or night, but motorcycles (which are often much louder around here) are exempt. The reason, of course, is that a few of the council members are also bikers, so they are putting their own interests above those of the community. There's been a proposal at town hall meetings to change the law to include any motorized vehicle, but it always gets tabled.


Oh you can get a fine in Europe for a loud vehicle. It can even be seized by the cops.


Or light pollution.


A reason motorcycles are loud (or made to be loud) is safety: when driving on highways or in busy areas, the idea is the noise makes the rider safer by offsetting their size disadvantage.


I don't think the guys doing wheelies down the street in front of my house are particularly concerned about safety. I think they're more interested in showing off.


>I don’t think I’ve ever been more incensed than when I learned Harley Davidsons are quiet out of the factory and people make them loud. And while I can get a ticket for something trivial, I’ve never heard of someone getting a ticket for riding a motorcycle or car that’s obnoxiously loud and can be heard a mile away

They're not exactly quiet from the factory but people make them loud because thanks to the Doppler effect you need to be really loud for someone in a vehicle beside you to hear you (and they're unlikely to consciously see you if they want to move over because their brain isn't used to checking for objects that are motorcycle sized).


I don't see this happening. The propeller physics aren't changing. If you are using the quadrotor architechure, directly lifting your playload with no wings, there's a sound-per-kg number that can't be engineered away.


Elon Musk had a similar argument against, I think, flying cars on Joe Rogans show. I guess it is one of those things were imagination is greater than reality. Like a lot of space stuff (mostly in regards to distance).

Though I guess high and light applications would disturbe less.


Is Active noise canceling an option?


Active noise canceling is equivalent to beam shaping. It can work in headphones because you can aim the minima at the ear and the maxima away from it, but the best you could achieve by adding speakers to a drone would be selecting where the energy hits. Directing everything to the upper hemisphere would be nice, but that's not how beam shaping works.


On the ground? To an extent, but it would be expensive to deploy and maintain. On the drone? No, you’re adding weight and reducing available power.


I thought iancmceachern asked a really good question. I was curious if it could work even theoretically.

I read the Wikipedia article on Active Noise Control. The third paragraph under Explanation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_noise_control#Explanati... mentions that if it's at the source, it needs to be just as loud as the source (as opposed to being by the ear, in which case even a whisper might be enough).

In addition to being as loud as the source, you need to blast it in all directions. So I guess it's hard/impossible to perfectly hit the same sound waves in all directions. If you ever miss, you'll just be doubling the noise.

Maybe that's why you'll be hard-pressed to find anything in a fixed installation that uses active noise cancellation at the source - even if it's heavy, periodic, and uses a lot of power anyway - such as a home air conditioner. Noise cancellation close to the ear seems much easier for this reason, and maybe at the source it's just impossible.


Not impossible, just impractical unless silence is incredibly important. If you want a quiet helicopter then you do what you can to reduce the noise signiture, then you might consider destructive interference. You wouldn’t use speakers, but that’s not the only way to produce a noise. In fact a clever country might even figure out how to use an arrangement of blades and fans designed to produce noise in such a way that it tends to cancel out the loudest contributions to the signature.

Buuuut... that’s not really viable for anything civilian or even commercial.


Like the Stealth Black Hawk helicopters that were used in the Osama Bin Laden raid!

(There existence is still not officially acknowledged of course, but many pictures exist.)

I was very curious about the technology they used to reduce the noise, as black hawks are very loud.


I believe I read that fan noise is chaotic, and hence impossible to cancel. Don't quote me on that, though.


This right here sounds like overengineering.


What makes a propellor different from a wing in this respect? Is it just because you have several of them next to each other and interfering with each other?


It’s a combination of factors, one of which is that a prop is just out there, unshielded like the fans inside a jet engine (which still make a ton of noise in the case I’d high bypass models). Then there’s cortex shedding, which is mostly occurring along edges and tips. Airplanes also tend to fly at much higher altitudes except on takeoff and landing, or their noise would be an issue too. Finally you’re right that the number and arrangement of blades matters, because each blade produces some turbulence, vortices, etc which then interact with the next blade in sequence. All told the issue is just s high degree of aerodynamic noise. You get that with a wing and any aerodynamic body, and really if you’ve ever seen model jets fly you’ve heard the racket they make.

The major issue is that until drones came around, you didn’t have to worry very often about large number of high performance aircraft operating throughout civilian airspace, at very low altitudes in crowded areas.


A plain wing is way less noisy, though. Construct a glider with the same mass as a typical quadcopter and you’ll be hard pressed to hear any noise from it, despite the fact that the wing is unshielded and has edges to shed vortexes from.


Oh sure, but the glider is moving through the air at a stately pace (generally between 50-95mph), shedding vortices without anything coming behind them to crash into them. A prop operates at much higher speeds, typically between 450-720mph!


Really? I arbitrarily looked up the DJI Phantom 3 and found a max RPM of about 8000 with a prop diameter of 9 inches, which gives a tip speed of about 200 MPH at the most.

That’s still pretty fast, of course. That points to using bigger props as a potential way to cut noise.


You’re right, I was looking at max motor rpm, whoops!


A lot of things: the high rpm motor powering it, the combined area of the blade edge that is higher than the area of the wing edge, and the higher pressure differential between the air behind the propeller compared to the air in front of it. The sound results from this pressure differential collapsing so anything that increases the pressure differential will create more sound.


Both propellers and wings are fundamentally the same thing: airfoils.

However, air passes over a propeller much, much faster than over a wing, and creates shock waves in a way that wings don't.


Does it? The same airfoil needs the same speed to provide a given amount of lift, regardless of whether it’s a wing or a propellor.


The speed of a propeller is low close to the rotor, and sometimes faster than sound at the extremity of the blades. Can’t reduce sound on that.


Propeller efficiency takes a nose dive when the tips go supersonic. Most props therefore do not operate in this range.


Wings don't rotate and thus don't efficiently produce sound waves.


This doesn't really need another law. If something can be heard X m/ft away after night-time N (i.e., car stereo bass blasting at 3 am), or louder than Y anytime (i.e., concert without a permit), then it's creating a nuisance under existing legislation. It needs enforcement of what's already on the books if there's a complaint.

And the permit requirement to operate a small R/C toy is ridiculous: this information you don't want the government to have because it will be misused similarly to how social media was abused in the Gatwick Airport (non-)incident. The sensible thing would be classes (Class 1, 2, 3, etc.) of unmanned flying devices, as with model rockets.

https://www.nar.org/find-a-local-club/section-guidebook/laws...


  It needs enforcement of what's already on
  the books if there's a complaint.
Do the cops in your area respond to a noise complaint in less than the ~15 minutes it takes for a drone battery to run out?


Yes! My biggest single complaint about drones is the noise. I also own and fly a drone (for professional photography and video work) but I am LOATHE to fly that thing when anyone else is around. It’s just so dang annoying.

As a drone owner, it drives me bananas when I see people just flying them all over the place with no account for how irritating the noise is.

If drones could be made substantially quieter, everyone’s quality of life would go up and we could be saved from inconsiderate people with no regard for others.


I honestly wish all drone owners were as considerate as you sound.

Unfortunately, anecdotally I'd have to say that the majority are not considerate.


Yeah that’s the dream alright. So many of them are so incredibly inconsiderate that it gives the rest of us a bad name.

I’m legitimately too embarrassed to fly it around anyone because of how incredibly inconsiderate your average hobbyist is. Even though I actually have a reason to fly it (I get paid).


Maybe if they fly them high enough? Or maybe wind would become a problem.

Also, dedicated drone corridors that are over roads or uninhabited areas, so at least only cars would be hit in case one of them drops out of the sky.


The solution is fixed wing "drones". The props on a fixed wing RC 'drone' are still loud, but for an equivalent mass in the air they are a LOT quieter than quads. They're also more efficient, you get more flight time with fixed wings.

There are just three problems:

1) Landing space (not a hard problem to solve with durable designs that have very low stall speeds.)

2) For some photography purposes, hovering is the only way to get the shot.

3) They're just not as sexy. People like quads because they seem a lot more sci-fi.


  helicopters with 4x the number of blades
I mean, what’s the difference between a helicopter with four blades, versus the same helicopter by with only one blade, but four times the size?

Except a full scale helicopter blade is easily 100 times larger.

So they are helicopters, but 100 times smaller, but with four blades.


When I flew a Phantom 4 to 150 feet, it was basically invisible and totally silent. I’m guessing you’re thinking of much larger drones?


I guess army drones are silent.


Army drones are usually fixed-wing - in the civilian market they'd be called "RC planes".

RC planes are less popular than quadcopters for hobby use, as it takes a lot more skill to avoid crashing them.


Lots of safety concerns are brought up, but I'm really curious how drones will play out in conjunction with noise and NIMBYism. Drones are loud, so I can't imagine that commercial drone activity (Especially at night) will happen without heavy pushback from locals.

NASA did a study and found that the noise drones make is perceived to be more annoying than those from cars [1]. They acknowledge noise-based pushback as an issue, even if they're no louder than cars.

[1] https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/201700...


I don't think that's a NIMBY - pretty sure people not into drones will just be against the noise in their backyard or other peoples backyards.


Its such a minor and rare sound though. A car driving past you is so much louder and more annoying as well as being more common. In fact I can think of countless common and accepted sounds that we find acceptable.


Cars are becoming very quiet, especially electrical cars. But drones are basically flying vuvuzelas. They are not just loud - their sound is insufferable.


I live next to a fairly busy road AND under the approach to Dulles Airport (not the final, but what is effectively the "right pattern").

To my ears, drones are far more annoying than either the constant whoosh-whrrr of the road, or the occasional rumble of a heavy airliner (narrow bodies and GA planes make way less noise - it's the A380s and 747s that make enough noise to make me look up). The pitch of the quad rotors is higher, which to most people, is a more invasive sound.


A car driving past me doesn't sound like someone trying to destroy a power tool. [1]

Unless it's driven by one of those jerks who mod their exhaust, that is.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5DYre_EZKU - I've heard more annoying sounds, but this is probably in my top ten, or fifteen.


In my neighborhood, a noisy drone would get shot out of the sky pretty quickly. Or even a not-so-noisy one, if it were spotted over someone else's property.


No they wouldn't. Have fun sending rounds into the sky hitting nothing but air. You can hit a randomly moving target at 1000 feet consistently?


It's probably not so hard to hit with a shotgun for someone used to dropping fast, randomly moving birds (doves) out of the sky. And even if it takes a couple shots, who's counting?


No way drones are louder than cars, so worst case scenario, they get restricted to flying over already established roadways. Not a brilliant solution, but better than nothing.

That being said NIMBYism isn't always logical. Even if you presented a plan that proves their would be no increase in noise, I could see a lot of people not believing it.


Yes way, and it's not the volume it's the pitch.

Drones emit a high pitch whine that is annoying and irritating, and ruins plenty of quite natural viewpoints with assholes trying to get that pullback shot for their vlog.

This isn't NIMBYism or Ludditeness - I'm pro drones for practical uses. I'm anti Drones X Instagram Influencer culture that permeates hikes, and stresses out my dog (who is even more sensitive to high pitched noises than I am)


You can barely hear (or even see) a small drone above about 100m.


multiply that by many, many drones. Those "small" drones aren't what they will use for delivery services. They are not nearly powerful enough to carry more of a load much more than it's own weight. They are even louder taking off and landing. I own 2.


Larger drones tend to be more quiet, or at the very least are perceived to be so due to the lower pitch sound made by larger, more slowly rotating propellers.


Helicopters have lower pitch and larger, slower rotating blades as well. They're not quiet, and they've had a lot longer to perfect the blade tech. My block gets about 15 deliveries per day from UPS/USPS/FedEx/Amazon/etc. Have you been near a drone, of any size, taking off and landing? It's quite loud. They're not just going to drop the package from the sky. They're going to be constantly landing and taking off to deliver the package, right near you.


On any given day, for most of the year, there's a good chance that someone in earshot of me is running a lawnmower, a string trimmer, or a leaf blower, all of which are louder than a drone. There's also a guy down the road who regularly leaves his loud diesel truck idling, motorcycles going down the road, and occasional jets flying overhead.

All of this annoys the hell out of me, but no one else seems to care. Certainly not enough to ban any of it.


  a lawnmower, a string trimmer, or a leaf blower
All of these are used in daytime almost exclusively.


We're talking about replacing/supplementing residential delivery trucks, which don't run at night.


>They're going to be constantly landing and taking off to deliver the package, right near you.

For delivery, would using a (possibly guided) parachute be an option sometimes? For example if there is a landing target left in someone's yard.


Helicopters have a large airframe directly under the blades. That is part of the problem with their noise generation.


It's like a bee. You know its there, you can barely hear it. I can see why people get annoyed by them


Not really. I have a drone, and if it's high enough, I can't hear it, and have trouble even seeing it.


I don't mean "barely hear" as in it's quiet, I mean "if you didn't specifically know where and when to look for it you'd never know it was there."


Already happened a few times to me that I could distinctly hear a drone's buzzing but couldn't pinpoint where it was because it was between 50 to 100 meters high and some 50 meters away. It was just an annoying sound because it was a quiet, non windy day.


They are loud for now. That will change.


Fans, helicopters etc have been around for decades and are still mostly loud.

You can't escape the physics that moving air causes noise.


Sure but size matters. A helicopter that can carry a person weighs 1000 pounds or more. A drone can be less than 1 one thousandth the weight.


Just put wings on the damn thing and you can cut your power requirements down by an order of magnitude.


There are no cameras that would weight less than a pound (0.5kg) and be good at night at the same time.


Look up the Runcam Micro Eagle. It costs $35 and has a 1/4" low resolution sensor and is commonly used for night flying of FPV drones.


It does not look like something what would be suitable for surveillance. Quality is only good to catch that something is happening on the ground but I doubt that this is suitable to be reliable source of truth and I don't even speak about this being used as evidence in the court.


Energy efficient buildings tend to handle noise pollution better with their extra insulation. Not ideal, but there's always a solution.


Energy efficient buildings tend to handle noise pollution better with their extra insulation. Not ideal, but there's always a solution.

Translation: "You go inside if you want peace and quiet. The outside is only for the self-entitled now."


I'm speaking from experience. I live next to an airport. Also unlike an airport, if drones are being used for deliveries to residences, only hermits will be 'entitled'.


I don't think it is a good idea for the sanity of people to tell them to stay inside and have really good sound insulation. We have to remember that sound pollution is a health issue and impacts people's lives. I have my doubts how efficient insulation one can get against air traffic -- from personal experience, it doesn't work.


I'm speaking from experience, and I didn't intend to sound patronizing. I live really close to an airport. Have been for years. Lived in my home both before and after energy efficient improvements e.g. triple pane windows, more insulation, roofing, stormdoor, ... It works. If NIMBY lobbying fails, you have to take into account all tools available including smart earphones.


as if you're going to go put in earphones everytime someone flies a drone around your property ...


No, when you’re inside your energy efficient home, it’s fine; you are insulated from sound and even rumbling from airplanes (assuming you have good insulation on top of your house as well). Earphones are for going out and about. Wearing earphones all the time also has already become a trend...


How? Helicopters are still obnoxiously loud after decades.


We'll all eventually go deaf from all the noise.


One of the most important roles for drones is fully independent observation of police that is very difficult to physically disrupt.

If independent, amateur, volunteer drone operators begin to observe nearly every outdoor police encounter in the United States, without the police being physically able to stop it, that alone will be a big enough victory to justify many of the side effects.

Let's ensure that observation of government agents, whether at a traffic stop or a huge gathering, becomes a regular, legal, celebrated practice.

Nobody stands to benefit more from this than honest, integral police officers who live in fear of reporting their less savory colleagues.


I think a bigger concern is that the police will use drones to conduct ubiquitous surveillance.


the FBI already does stuff like this with little cessnas, albeit not at scale. [0]

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/02/fbi-surveill...


Not that I'm advocating against police transparency, but just imagine what it would be like to livestream your work computer screen to the entire world. It sounds quite stressful.


>It sounds quite stressful.

The price they pay for the privilege of enforcing the state's monopoly on violence should be some lack of an expectation of privacy due to public scrutiny, that only seems fair.


More stressful than having colleagues whose power has corrupted them and knowing that nobody will believe you (or worse, that you'll be the target of reprisal) if you report them?

I think that taking the reporting part of police abuse out of the hands of police (ie, by ensuring that bodycams are a secondary viewport, while overhead observation by ordinary, independent persons is primary) will make the job less stressful, not more.


> It sounds quite stressful.

So does being shot by police.


Good. The US government has been restricting commercial operations of drone development for far too long. Many companies that were US-based are moving their operations overseas where the laws are more reasonable (Australia and New Zealand, for example).

This is a simple and reasonable step in the right direction. Open up legal operations for the smallest category and begin collecting data. It can help pave the way towards larger operations in a safe way.


I'm more than happy to wait to see how those citizens in other countries like the noise, before doing it here.

The privacy issues will also be interesting. Do you think these companies won't be attaching cameras to them as well to capture as much data as they possibly can why flying around? Then multiply that times as many drones as will be flying around. It will be great for tracking too, since you can theoretically have almost have 24/7 coverage, especially cities where everything is more compact. Just patch all the feeds together, like they do with cell phone cameras in Argus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13BahrdkMU8


In the early tests in Australia there's already a lot of complaints about noise. Making the flights quieter is already becoming a higher priority. https://www.engadget.com/2018/12/27/alphabet-quiet-wing-deli...

Privacy is also important, but it's a separate issue. Is there anything that can be done via drone that can't be done with a cell phone or a go pro? It doesn't make sense to outlaw hammers just because they can be used for murder.

edit: allow to outlaw


> Is there anything that can be done via drone that can't be done with a cell phone or a go pro?

Not necessarily if you're talking about just one, but there is when you have tens of thousands of them compiling the data. Remember, these are companies like amazon, who are deploying Rekognition face recognition systems to law enforcement in cities (as well as Ring doorbell cameras). This will additionally give them that capability from the air now, on a movable platform.


A thought experiment:

We have created quieter drones. Do we want private companies with flying cameras recording us at all times?

Why or why not?


The drones can also intercept GSM equipment identifiers (IMEI), WiFi points identifiers, recognise car plate numbers and their owners' faces and sell all those data. This can even be more profitable than delivery.


This is one of those things that you assume is going to happen eventually no matter what. Why not just do it now?

That's not necessarily meant to be flippant; it's a real question: what unknowns have dissuaded us from doing this until now? Are they resolved now? Would they be resolved in the future given some kind of delay until this (inevitably) happens?


The major unknown that prevented this until now was the average age of the people working at the FAA. For a long time any request for something unusual was met with the simple response, "No". The FAA's mandate is safety, and they could justify disallowing new things for the sake of safety. They've finally realized that this is inevitable, and they can't just say "No" forever. A lot of the old guard is retiring, and the newer employees are figuring out how to integrate new technology safely.


the average age of the people working at the FAA

That's ageism, plain and simple. I hope you don't ever have to hire people, or you'll get your company fined.


This was a very polite version of what an FAA employee told me.


and if she'd told you it was all the fault of blacks / gays whatever ?


> The FAA is also proposing allowing discretionary waivers ... for those that do not meet its anti-collision lighting requirement.

Huh? What would be a legitimate reason for that?


The FAA cares about "equivalent level of safety." If it can be demonstrated that an operator can keep things safe even though they're breaking a rule, the FAA will allow a waiver for that rule.

Imagine someone operating out in the bush in Alaska where there are no people. There's no need for the same safety precautions out there. Or operations in mountainous terrain where it's not possible that a manned aircraft would fly -- no need for anti-collision lighting there.

The FAA is quite strict and is very unlikely to hand out waivers unless the operator can clearly show an equivalent level of safety.


Surveillance for law enforcement is the easy one that everybody's going to worry about. I can also see some niche uses for wildlife observation.


The anticollision light has to be visible from three miles away. I could see that being excessive and disruptive for certain urban use cases.


Yeah this seems aggressive. At that brightness it'd be like having street lights flying down your block. Also seems like lights that bright might use a prohibitive amount of power?


Could just be for night shots over ones house or fireworks... OR for low flying drones to view citizens


Drones are overrated in my opinion. Most of the "map an area" use cases are more cost effective via airplane pilots doing their miles. Most of the "monitor an area" use cases are more cost effective via CCTVs.


> Under the FAA’s proposals, operators would be able to fly small unmanned aircraft weighing 0.55 pounds (0.25 kg) or less over populated areas without any additional restrictions.

> For drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds, however, a manufacturer would need to demonstrate that if an “unmanned aircraft crashed into a person, the resulting injury would be below a certain severity threshold.”

I assume this also includes the weight of the package. I'm pretty sure most of my Prime boxes weight more than half a pound.

I wonder what the severity threshold is. Like, are propeller guards enough or is there still innovation that needs to happen?


I haven't read the proposed regulations, but most likely it is a typo and should be 55 pounds not 0.55 pounds. Because the existing FAA regulations have a lot of things that change at the 55 pound threshold.

0.55 pounds doesn't really make sense, such a light drone can barely fly in modest wind and won't have enough battery life to go very far.

Edit: maybe 0.55 pounds is correct. Because that threshold is also used in other FAA UAV regulations. (e.g. UAV less than 0.55 pounds doesn't need to be registered)

Edit2: maybe not, see https://www.apnews.com/1c50bdd96d6244198df93d84c86bf156


55 flying pounds is enough to kill a person... No way someone could prove that 55 pounds of drone can't hurt someone.


Given that we're talking big business and liability, I would also like to see some sort of bond posted against accidents and injuries, or an insurance requirement.


I doubt Amazon drone deliveries are what the FAA was considering with this proposal. More than likely, DJI Spark type of aircraft is what was considered where the pilots are looking to acquire video footage. Although a quick lookup shows the Spark to be slightly heavier than 0.55 pounds. That thing is tiny, so if it doesn't qualify for this proposed rule, then the crafts that do qualify would be more along the lines of toys. I was under the impression that the Spark was just about the smallest useful drone available. By useful, I meant can generate a decent quality image.


I don't get this either. Almost any existing consumer drone over 0.55 pounds could possibly fall straight down onto someone's head and kill them, in an unlucky scenario.

Maybe the requirement is trying to encourage (or allow) the development of drones that are spatially extended/soft, e.g. drones that contain inflated components.


I wonder if they could deploy something like the airbags they had on the mars rover that bounced down, perhaps with vents allowing air to squeeze out on impact like a crumple zone and cushion a blow if it were to land on someone.


Also... weight is not a useful metric. A 1lb rock has very different ballistic properties than a 1lb feather. A typical 9mm bullet weighs 0.01lbs.


Since this is about objects falling from a certain height, yes, weight is a useful metric for rough safety estimates.

A bullet does damage because it holds a lot more energy from being accelerated - a 9mm bullet will go around a mile up before falling down (source: MythBusters). Two 500g boxes dropped from a likely much lower height will have a similar effect (concussion?) when dropped on a pedestrian regardless of the contents, except for a few outliers. Even for small, heavy objects (like a 1kg camera lens) the load would be spread by its enclosure unless it separates mid-fall.


a 9mm bullet can only go so high because it leaves the barrel at a much greater speed than its terminal velocity in freefall. 9mm in particular has a fairly low terminal velocity; if it falls straight down it is unlikely to seriously hurt an adult.


The bullet, falling from the same height as a crashing drone, is at least as lethal if it strikes a human. There is no "safe weight" for a falling object... but there may be a "safe momentum".


The proposed flying zone for drones like these is between 60-120m height. Seems like a bullet must travel at least 62m/s to penetrate human skin [1], for which you need a height of at least ~200m [2]. So even dropping a bullet from one the delivery drones would not carry a high risk of fatal injuries.

That, and P=MV, momentum/energy increases proportionally to mass. A 'safe weight' can be defined if the altitude is known.

[1] https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2011/03/can-falling-bull...

[2] https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/mofall.html


Right, but a box with a 1lb rock in it, and a box with 1lb of feathers are going to fall from the sky to your head about the same.


I mean, the 1lb or feathers will have a much larger box, and a much larger surface area for wind resistance. In addition, it will spread the impact over a larger area.


The box with the feathers could be very tall but narrow so that the air resistance won't be large.


What if someone wanted to operate drones containing scientific instruments over industrial sites? Several years back, the PLOS folks visited my local hackerspace and talked about using balloons to double check chemical emissions of oil refineries near Houston. They had to use balloons, because there were legal problems with using drones. The concerns of overflown companies are quite understandable as well. For things like scientific instruments, what about some sort of inspection of flown equipment and licensing?


What if someone wanted to operate drones containing scientific instruments over industrial sites?

I'm not an expert, but if an company wants to use drones to monitor its industrial site, that's fine. It's private property. Just like construction companies use drones to monitor construction.

But you don't have the right to fly your drone over someone else's property, even if it's for something as seemingly good as monitoring chemical emissions. What happens when there's a malfunction and your machine plummets into a stack, or hits a person?

Again, I'm not an expert on this. I suspect nobody really is since it's all a new realm, and what few laws there are haven't been tested very much.


Actually, you do have the right to fly over someone else's property. It's well established law that Delta airlines does not need to ask permission from every land owner that they overfly.

A long time ago, property rights were 'Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos' -- from hell below to heaven above. (now referred to as the 'ad coelum doctrine') But that law was changed a long time ago. Just because you own the land, doesn't mean you own all of the airspace above it.

It has been tested in court that a property owner owns some height above the surface of their land. 300ft over the tallest structure is definitely in the public domain. However, the minimum altitude that one is allowed to fly over private land without permission has not been established in court.

A drone at 10ft could definitely be pursued for trespassing. A drone at 400ft definitely could not be pursued for trespassing. A drone at 150ft? That still needs to be tested in court. Then general rule is that a property owner is entitled to the enjoyment of their property.


Why would it need to be tested in court? It falls under the well-established doctrine that the FAA / EASA etc. is allowed to regulate air traffic.

You'll be able to fly your drone at whatever altitude they tell you you're allowed to fly at.

If they didn't get to decide by fiat you could just make up your own rules and seek to sort them out in court. E.g. "no I don't feel like following the FAA rules on airline safety, I'll just make my own airliner & airline and make my own rules".


> Why would it need to be tested in court?

Because the law is not clear as it is currently written. On one hand, the minimum safe altitude to operate an aircraft is 500ft. So it's pretty clear that anything above 500ft is considered a public thoroughfare.

The FAA claims to own and regulate all US airspace down to ground level. The FAA also says that drones must be operated below 400ft (clearly an effort to keep drones and manned aircraft safely separated). If we embrace this version of the law, then drones can operate from 0ft to 400ft with impunity over private land without any legal repercussions.

On the other hand, it is established law that a property owner is entitled to the full enjoyment of their property. In a famous case, United States vs Causby, military bombers were flying at an altitude of 83ft over Causby's house and chicken farm. The courts sided with Causby and established a precedent that a landowner does own some portion of the airspace over their land. However, it did not establish a specific altitude.

A bomber at 83ft was deemed to infringe on private property rights, but should a small drone at 83ft be judged in the same way? It's not clearly defined in law right now, that's why it needs to be tested in court. Or alternatively, the legislature needs to adjust the laws to make it clear.


That's really interesting. As the Wikipedia article notes[1] quoting the decision while the court didn't hold property rights at as specific altitude, in their language they referred to the height of buildings, trees etc.:

> "if the landowner is to have full enjoyment of the land, he must have exclusive control of the immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere. Otherwise, buildings could not be erected, trees could not be planted, and even fences could not be run" …“The fact that he does not occupy [space] in a physical sense -- by the erection of buildings and the like -- is not material. As we have said, the flight of airplanes, which skim the surface but do not touch it, is as much an appropriation of the use of the land as a more conventional entry upon it."

But it's not clear to me that this would apply to drones for a couple of reasons:

1. The question of whether something is considered an easement or not doesn't apply for the drone question. I.e. in the 1946 case bombers were flying by at 83 ft so "buildings could not be erected". Whereas today if if drones were flying past your house at 83 ft and you built a 100 ft building they'd just need to fly over or around it.

2. In the 1946 case the overflights themselves caused enough of a disruption to farming from noise etc. that the farmer went out of business, so the takings clause was invoked. It's unlikely that'll ever become an issue with drones, general noise regulation will handle those sorts of cases.

Also, surely there's lots of post-1946 cases on this matter due to the build-outs of airports and growing class B airspace, or has that been handled entirely by buying out property and zoning regulations?

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Causby#Holdin...


You're right that there are aspects of the case that would not apply to a current-day situation. The takings clause can only apply to the US Government, for example. But the main takeaway that I believe would apply is that a property owner effectively owns the airspace up to some altitude X ft.

The way I see it is that the property owner should be entitled to exclusive use from 0ft to Xft. (Of course, the land owner can always give permission for lower flights if they so choose.) And drones should be able to legally traverse from Xft to 400ft.

It would be great if a law would establish what X is. Unfortunately, I think it's more likely that someone will fly a drone over private land at 150ft, the land owner will shoot it down, and the ensuing lawsuit will set a precedent.


But you don't have the right to fly your drone over someone else's property

But if the government has the right and duty to regulate emissions into the atmosphere, they should be able to measure the air over a refinery. This is why I mentioned some kind of accreditation. Maybe the company could hire an independent 3rd party, whose work and devices can be inspected by all parties?


I was in Taiwan for the last 4 years, and went to many music festivals. At one of those, the drone continued recording videos even after sunset.

The weather was super hot. I was directly underneath at times, and the breeze from the drone was a very welcome relief. I wasn't scared about it falling on me, and the noise didn't disturb the music (although that says something about my taste for punk rock).

That may be different for large delivery drones, but I think that small recreational drones (e.g. DJI) should be allowed all the time, including at night over a crowd.


Let me get this right: because you weren't annoyed by the level of drone noise while you were at a punk rock concert and weren't worried about it falling on you, you think flying them over people should be allowed "all the time"?

Like another commenter said, "You go inside if you want peace and quiet. The outside is only for the self-entitled now."


Will they have restrictions on the cargo that these drones are allowed to carry. I know that the drones themselves will probably have rechargeable batteries powering them. However, if

1. the drone is carrying cargo

2. the cargo isn't sufficiently secure to the drone

3. the cargo contains rechargeable batteries / some other component that can explode as result of high speed impact with a sufficiently hard surface

4. the cargo lacks sufficient packaging material

5. the cargo happens to fall from the drone's flight altitude

then isn't there a risk of an explosion?

Update: Is this question inappropriate? I made it in good faith.


There are existing rules for transporting hazardous materials by air. I don't know if those rules are general enough to also encompass unmanned aircraft.


That's a good point. Hopefully, those rules are applied and adhered to from the get go.


Good. God only knows how much money is wasted when you just want a camera in the sky to monitor traffic/incidents and are forced to spend money on a helicopter/fuel/pilot.


Should I be worried about thief drones? If a drone can deliver a package, surely another drone can steal it too?


Less than you should worry about thief delivery trucks. Drone's being more noticeable, and requiring more skill to obtain and operate (at least for now).


yes but drones can get away much faster making it completely worthwhile.

drones can also record entry passcodes, snap pictures of keys and license plates, spoof gps, carry guns, spray toxic gas, drill through buildings and sniff EM fields to see who is where and when. perfect legal data to resell to unsavories.

this would be a security nightmare.


First thing they should do is to cover propellers so that they don't hurt anyone. Most of the drones I've seen have no protection. The manufacturers and owners don't care about the safety at all.

Also, what if the drone flies into someone's window or a car? How do you identify the owner?


>First thing they should do is to cover propellers so that they don't hurt anyone.

Does anyone know why this isn't standard?

I Googled this question: "why don't quadcopters have safety cages" https://www.google.com/search?q=why+don't+quadcopters+have+s... ...

... and even saw cages that go around the whole quadcopter (not just the propellers as I was expecting). If those were a bit squishy they could seriously reduce any chance of concussion/property damage if landing on someone or something!

The YouTube video below is pretty amazing, it shows someone demonstrating such a cage.

"Spherical Cage Incased Quadcopter" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B3X6EvZ2XM

I've submitted it as a separate submission. (It's only 2 minutes.) He says it flies great, and he even seems to purposefully drop it several times from as high as the height of a building.

Also for anyone who hasn't been around drones much, in the middle of the video you can hear the annoying whirring noise people mention throughout this thread.


They reduce lift and make the drone less efficient.


> Does anyone know why this isn't standard?

Because cages weigh more. Minimizing weight is critical for anything that flies. If it weighs more, then it takes more energy to make it fly. If it weighs more, then that's less payload that it can carry.


it's actually worse than that. in addition to the weight penalty, prop guards decrease the performance of the rotors and make the aircraft a bit less stable.


This seems inconsistent, coming from the administration of a president who is hyper-concerned about terrorism and tends to overstate the security implications of just about everything. Close the borders, but open the skies?


Close the borders to foreigners, open the skies to citizens, yes.

Maybe there is an informative comparison of border policy to airspace policy, but it has yet to be written here. Otherwise it seems the two aren't very related


The point I was trying to make is that the gov't has no clear principles on what is dangerous; just politics and money. Deregulating drone operation seems to me like something you could choose to make very frightening, if you were in that business.

Engaging your argument... domestic terrorism / mass murder of citizens by citizens is quite real.


Of course domestic terrorism exists, but it isn't frequent and it doesn't seem that more ability for any given citizen to carry out a specific terrorist attack correlates with more domestic terrorists attacks in general.

The fear around borders is different, as with borders, even when everything is working as intended, there is still a constant threat of people who want to cross the border illegally. With a secured border they will try and fail to cross (ideally), without border security, they will cross.

With drones, regulations like these only better outline how law-abiding citizens should act. The threat of terrorism isn't dealt with with regulation like this, it already is very illegal to do anything terrorizing on purpose with a drone, so a regulation about flying at night doesn't protect from that. With the border I mentioned how its an ever present threat, well, with drones it isn't. It can become a major threat if society was less stable perhaps, but as is, not enough people want to commit terrorism via drones for it to be a threat in the public mind.

All this said, it absolutely can become a fear campaign with drones. I can't remember specifics, but I know I've witnessed a handful of incidents where someone was injured at a park or similar location and subsequently got regulation to ban/limit drone use at the park or similar location. Incidents like that would only need to be a bit more numerous and a nationwide anti-drone campaign could work. Even already if it was made a partisan issue, many would pick a side with strong confidence.


An FAA regulation isn't going to stop a domestic terrorist.


When you take something from "permitted" to "restricted", you turn actions from "normal" to "suspicious", and that definitely acts as a signal for observers and a deterrent.

The FAA requires airline doors to be secured. Why would you assume that does nothing to stop a domestic terrorist? I can't imagine why you'd even say such a thing.




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