Drone company CEO on self-regulating safety measures


Drones are expected to be hot sellers this summer through the holidays and the FAA is testing the tech to find common ground between safety and fun. As the government continues to develop new guidelines, 3D Robotics CEO Chris Anderson said the safety issue is not a “law problem, but an enforcement problem.”

“Every developed country has basic rules in place. So under 400 feet; you can’t fly over 400 feet. Those are the rules. They’ve been in place for 30, 40 years, and yet people do it anyway,” Anderson said Wednesday on “CBS This Morning.”

The FAA’s current drone guidelines include mandates to fly within a visual line of site, at least 5 miles from airports and not over people, except those involved with the flight.

While safety is a concern, Anderson said drone companies can’t wait for regulations to catch up.

“Governments operate too slowly,” he said.

Instead, Anderson said the industry assumes the responsibility, developing new tools to combat against accidental drone misuse.

“We can’t rely on self-regulation to stop the bad guys, but we can help stop the good guys from doing things by mistake,” he said.

He called those preventable mistakes “mass-jackassery.”

“The brilliant things about these drones is that they’re connected devices, they’re the ‘internet of things,'” Anderson said. “There’s an app and the app talks to the cloud, and so every time you turn it on it sends four data points to the cloud: who; who’s flying what; what are you flying, when and where.”

Communication between the device and the cloud offers measures of precaution in the form of color notifications.

“The cloud can send back a red, yellow or green. Red means no, its not safe for you, an untrained pilot, to fly in this location, or they can say yellow, it might be safe but here’s what you should know, that this neighbor over here has declared that they don’t want things flying over them or that park over there is a no drone zone,” Anderson said.

In addition to its own set of safety features, 3D Robotics’ latest drone, the Solo, touts technology to help users capture aerial images with ease.

“What makes a great areal shot is the motion. It’s the pans and the reveals and all those kinds of complex things that have been developed over decades in Hollywood because they look good to the eye,” Anderson said.

The Solo comes pre-programmed with “selfie,” “orbit” and “cable cam” flight paths.

“You push a button and it does these sort of classic shots, the kind of shots you’ve seen from films but you don’t need the skill; you don’t need five thumbs,” Anderson said.