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Watch a parachute rescue a drone in free fall

Engadget Engadget 9/05/2016 Jon Fingas
© Provided by Engadget

Drone operators dread the thought of their vehicle losing power mid-flight, and not just because of the expensive crash that's likely to follow -- it's that the drone might hit something or someone on its way down. ParaZero thinks it can set those pilots' minds at ease, however. It recently unveiled a reusable parachute system, SafeAir, that slows drones when they're in free fall. The concept isn't completely novel, but it promises extremely quick reactions that could avoid accidents. As you'll see in the clips below, the chute deploys within milliseconds and can rescue a craft even if it's at very low altitudes. A lightweight drone (under 4.4 pounds) should be relatively safe even if it drops from 6.6 feet above the ground.

The technology isn't perfect; a drone won't fall any more slowly than 9.8 feet per second, so the odds are that it'll still take damage. However, the parachute could mean the difference between a total loss and recovering camera footage, and could give bystanders more time to get out of the way. The main concerns are simply availability and cost. The first version in development isn't meant for the 3D Robotics Solo, which isn't as common, and it's not clear how much you'll have to pay when the system arrives. Right now, this is primarily for movie makers and adventurers whose robotic flyers are likely to run into trouble.

ParaZero

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