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Are Tethers the Answer To the Safety Issues of Follow-Me Drone Technology?

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  • by popo (107611) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @05:38AM (#47392105) Homepage

    Sorry, but the logic here escapes me. Aren't the danger of crossed-tethers exponentially greater than the danger of colliding drones?

    • I really don't want (amateur) pilots flying swarms of anything over my head at the beach/ski-slope/swimming pool. And tethering the drones to the pilots will mitigate what exactly?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It will mitigate legal trouble, as long as nothing happens. A tethered object isn't subject to the same rules as a free flying object. The pilot will still be liable for damaged caused, but not for breaking FAA rules. It's in the blurb, so mod this redundant.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by MRe_nl (306212)

          Legal trouble? Who's talking about legal trouble? I'm talking about the physical and spatial problems of multiple tethered moving objects in a 3D environment.
          Are you a lawyer?

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Who cares what you worry about? If the rules say one must not fly a free flying drone above your head, but may fly a tethered one, then you can't stop someone from doing the latter. What matters to someone who wants to sell drones, tethered or not, is that people are not legally prevented from using the product. If the safer product can't be sold, then of course being legal trumps being safe.

          • by rHBa (976986)
            Exactly, thinking about ski resorts the chances of your drone hitting a ski lift could cause the lift to shut down (temporarily) so I'd imagine the resorts banning them anywhere near a piste. Also I'd have thought the chances of a downed drone(s) garotting someone are fairly high.
        • It will mitigate legal trouble, as long as nothing happens. A tethered object isn't subject to the same rules as a free flying object. The pilot will still be liable for damaged caused, but not for breaking FAA rules. It's in the blurb, so mod this redundant.

          BUT... and this is about the 4th time I have pointed this out on Slashdot:

          A Federal administrative judge has ruled that the FAA has no authority to regulate small drones. Although the FAA has appealed this ruling, I very highly doubt it will be overturned, because the judge made his ruling on the basis that Congress simply hasn't given them any authority to do so.

          It the meantime, of course, the FAA is still trying to regulate everything in sight. But it won't last.

      • Re:This and more (Score:4, Informative)

        by rHBa (976986) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @06:48AM (#47392203)
        In many Alpine ski resorts there are a lot of paraglider and speedrider pilots (of which I am one, in Chamonix).

        Although we're not allowed to fly directly above pistes I can imagine these drones being very popular off-piste (i.e backcountry) where we often paraglide. A collision with an untethered drone *probably* wouldn't be too dangerous assuming the rotor blades are surrounded with a shroud but if it were tethered to the skier/boarder then the likelihood of it becoming tangled is quite high and could easily cause major problems for the paraglider pilot.

        Luckily Chamonix is a very traditional resort so I'd expect these drones to be banned anywhere near the piste and (hopefully) off-piste as well, however it would be almost impossible to police off-piste!
        • I really rue the day that "r/c model aircraft" because a "drone". Suddenly, a toy is worth regulating, and it's become rather ridiculous.

          Now we're talking about having to tether a model aircraft with a line, so that now we have entanglement issues?

          Can somebody please add some reason?

          • by rHBa (976986)
            FYI, here are some opinions of other paraglider pilots on the subject of flying with R/C models [paraglidingforum.com].

            This is mainly about soaring with full r/c than follow-drones which would presumably have a more predictable flight path, so not exactly the same situation but I'd still imagine speedrider pilots having problems with this because they are often well below the 400ft AGL height limit.
      • Re:This and more (Score:4, Insightful)

        by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @06:50AM (#47392207)

        Funny I think the same thing about people with cars and guns. Yet somehow as a species we're content with the massive injury and death rate from those activities but a petrified from the highly remote chance that we may get killed by a terrorist, attacked by a shark, or hit by a falling drone.

        • by erroneus (253617)

          Do you think gun injuries are massive? By that definition, people being struck by lightning and winning lotteries are absolutely out of control and in epidemic rates.

          Lumping car related injuries and fatalities in with guns is a wonderful way to create your hyperbole argument, but I would invite you to visit a shooting range some time. I think so far, without fail, once people actually use guns, they get a better impression of them and simply gain a better perspective on things.

          We live in a dangerous world

          • Re:This and more (Score:4, Insightful)

            by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @07:39AM (#47392335)

            Ahhh you must be one of those, "He mentioned guns so he must thing it should all be illegal, I better rebuff" types.

            No, couldn't be further from the truth, you misunderstood what I was trying to say. I was saying that compared to getting killed by falling drones the above list is far more dangerous to the general health of people, and THEY ARE ALL LEGAL.

            So everyone needs to take a deep breath, get some perspective and realise that getting killed by a flying drone is about likely as a terrorist attack. You should worry more about driving to a ski slope than dying on it.

            • by MRe_nl (306212)

              Get your cars and your guns of my ski-slope ; ).

              • by Culture20 (968837)

                Get your cars and your guns of my ski-slope ; ).

                You just made me think of an interesting new Olympic sport: The Drive-By Biathlon Jump. It will have both street-legal and monster-truck versions for both urban and rural American enjoyment.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Do you think gun injuries are massive? By that definition, people being struck by lightning and winning lotteries are absolutely out of control and in epidemic rates.

            Lumping car related injuries and fatalities in with guns is a wonderful way to create your hyperbole argument

            Calm down, calm down, no hordes of Obama's magic negro communistical armies are going to come and confistcate your precious.

            Can't even mention guns these days, without one of you kooks chiming in, upset and pissed, that the leebuuruls are tryin to take Mah guns!

            Well okay, let's just expand this a little so all the kooks can play at once

            I heard that guns cause Global warming, so do drones.

            Is it true that you have to believe in creationism in order to be in the NRA, and I understand that there is Bib

      • by erroneus (253617)

        I think you will find that the permission of the site location's management will likely be required as well to run this equipment as it becomes more common. I find the tech to be "cool" until you realize that it's all rather noisy. So it becomes not only a danger issue (and it's not like there isn't already danger associated with skiiing or any of the other activities likely to be focus of these drones) but one which is a nuissance to others.

        This all speaks of the problems of enjoying and living in the mo

    • Yes it might increase the risk but it may meet the law. But once the legal waltz begins who will argue that an electronic tether is less real than a piece of string? As usual the real issue is progress and not the argument put forward. The flack about drones has nothing at all to do with drones. People want to be able to get away with things. Whether it is adultery or robbing a gas station most people fear the truth in their lives. Taking real responsibility for our thoughts and deeds is not on th
    • Sorry, but the logic here escapes me. Aren't the danger of crossed-tethers exponentially greater than the danger of colliding drones?

      Not only that, but it is also a very expensive balloon on a string.

  • Each public flight should be insured with the insurance agency knowing the risks of each flight. Tethers do nothing but add an additional liability as they add weight, may get caught up in trees or power lines, and will potentially cause damage in the case of a vehicle crash.
  • ... call your office.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Good, now slap drones are a reality. I wouldn't mind having a slap drone following me around, despite the social stigma, because nobody ever talks to me anyway. But do these things have any conversational skills? I'm guessing no.

  • I'm sure the tether lines of multiple drones would never get crossed and cause any problems. Right?
  • simply no.

    • by psnyder (1326089)
      Betteridge's law of headlines [wikipedia.org] fits perfectly:

      This story is a great demonstration of my maxim that any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word "no". The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bullshit, and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it.

  • Perhaps I missed something, but the linked article (and also the Fotokite product/site) has absolutely nothing to do with safety. It talks about privacy/transparency.

    A tether to a person on the ground only makes the devices even more unsafe, as they now get tangled with each other and other environmental hazards. Perhaps it would limit its range (which is not mentioned in the article), but a heavy device falling is a heavy device falling.

    One thing that would increase drone safety would be an automatic par

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    Control line aircraft are, according to some, (and citations of the supposed FAA response are never available) "motorized kites." Therefore having a permanent tether to the aircraft makes this model no longer subject to the same rules as a untethered aircraft (in theory). I am not sure if these are really parallel arguments though.

    If use of a tether allows commercial operation of "camera drones" to resume then it is probably a good thing. Responsible operators taking reaso

  • I think that as self-driving car technology improves, the collision detection technology will find its way into drones. This is not much of a safety issue. More of an annoyance. Welcome to the new world, just get used to shit whizzing through the air and doing stuff.
  • Well, I RTFA and it's bullshit. I was hoping for a way to have a drone follow you automatically by following the tension of the tether, like a kite, but that's not the case here. What I'd like to find is a way to hook up the drone/kite to me while mountain biking / extreme skiing and have it film from above while not having to control it. Does such a thing exist ?
  • (At the risk of being modded redundant...)

    Just imagine these on a crowded ski slope, when every other ski runner has these. Not only will they tangle with each other, but also with the overhead ropes of ski lifts.

    And if your particularly unlucky one stretch of tether might get tangled behind a rock while another stretch of the same tether gets tangled around a fellow skiers neck. No, I don't want these on any slope where I am skying. Even if the FAA don't have jurisdiction, hopefully the resorts will forb

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