Drones [DRAFT 1.0]

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION. 3

CHAPTER 1: A BRIEF HISTORY OF DRONES3

CHAPTER 2: DRONES IN THE SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY. 3

Drone in the Arts & Entertainment Sector3

Hollywood & “The Bad Drones”. 3

Drones as Evil and Bad Autonomous Military Killing Machines3

Drones as Friendly and Good Machines That Come in Aid to Human Beings5

“Friendly Drones” & the Sports Industry. 6

The Drone Racing League (“DRL”)6

International Drone Racing Association. 10

MultiGP. 11

CHAPTER 3: DRONES & THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY. 17

General17

Drones & Risks17

CHAPTER 4: DRONES AS COMMERCIAL & INDUSTRIAL MACHINES. 26

Distinguishing Between Commercial, Industrial, and Personal Hobby Drones. 26

Commercial, Hobby, and Industrial Drone Manufacturers. 26

(A)Personal Hobby Drone Manufacturers27

(B)Personal, Commercial, and Industrial Drone Manufacturers29

(C)Commercial and Industrial Drone Manufacturers34

Concluding Remarks on the Consumer Drone Industry. 40

CHAPTER 5 – A LAYPERON’S GUIDE TO DRONE ANATOMY. 41

Why It Matters41

General Categorization. 42

Does Drone Size Matter?. 43

MAIN DRONE BODY FRAME MATERIALS. 43

DRONES BY DESIGN: DRONE TYPES & FRAME CONFIGURATION.. 44

General Drone Categorization. 44

Tricopters44

Quadcopters45

Hexacopters46

Octocopters47

Drone Frame Configurations48

Tricopter Drone Configurations48

Y-Shaped and Inverted Y-Shaped Tricopter Drone Configuration. 48

Quadcopter Drone Configurations48

True and Hybrid X-Shaped Quadcopter Drone Configurations48

+ Shape Quadcopter Drone Configuration. 49

True and Hybrid H-Shaped Quadcopter Drone Configurations49

Hexacopter Drone Configurations. 49

I and X Shaped Hexacopter Drone Configurations49

Octocopter Drone Configurations50

+ and X Shaped Octocopter Drone Configurations50

Drone Frame Analysis50

Every Drone’s Core Functionality: Flight and Camera Capabilities50

Conducting Your Own Analysis Using a Drone’s Two Core Functionalities51

Analyzing Drone Frame Configurations: Advantages and Disadvantages52

DRONE PROPULSION SYSTEMS: MOTORS, PROPS & ELECTRONIC SPEED CONTROLLERS. 54

Drone Motors: Brushless, Brushed & Coreless54

General66

Brief history of drones66

Definition of a Drone. 66

Terminology. 66

What this Work is About66

What this Work is Not About66

Military drones66

Intelligence drones. 66

Why They Matter: they have the potential of replacing many human activities. 66

Drones and the internet of things

Drone Applications

Drone Counter Measures

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER 1: A BRIEF HISTORY OF DRONES

CHAPTER 2: DRONES IN THE SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY

Drone in the Arts & Entertainment Sector

Hollywood & “The Bad Drones”

Drones as Evil and Bad Autonomous Military Killing Machines

The arts and entertainment have acted as an important catalyst in popularizing drones. As early as 1989, drones were often featured in major Hollywood productions, such as in Back to the Future Part II. In this sequel to the 1985 science-fiction adventure comedy film entitled “Back to the Future”, directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Bob Gale, Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) travels forward in time to October 21, 2015. Among many other technologies featured in the movie, drones were seen in the movie as being used by news agencies, including one scene in which USA today is videotaping Doc, a mad scientist who invents the traveling machine.[1] In yet another scene, a drone can be seen walking a well-tamed dog. One year later, in the less well-known movie entitled ‘Mohajer’ (The Immigrant) written and directed by Ebrahim Hatamikia, a man who controls small fixed-wing drones to detect Iraq’s front line, is put in danger of not being able to return to his home country. While movies about or, featuring drones continued throughout the following years, the film industry saw a stark increase in film productions featuring drones between the years 2013-2016.

The year 2013 saw a release of seven major Hollywood productions featuring drones. Popular titles included: “Captain Philips”, “Dirty Wars”, “Elysium”, “Hummingbird”, and “Oblivion”. That same year, the documentary film entitled “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars”, which investigates the impact of American drone strikes in Pakistan and other locations, as well as the documentary film “Dirty Wars”, which investigates American drone-assisted targeted killing, shined a negative light on UAVs being used for military, intelligence, and other defense purposes.

In 2014, at least 10 major movie titles featuring drones were released. Titles included: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”; “Force Majeure”; “From the Sky”; “The Giver”; “Good Kill”; “Interstellar”; “The Interview”; “RoboCop”; “Transformers: Age of Extinction”; and “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. Another documentary film, this one entitled “Drone”, was released in 2014. This documentary also explored the role and use of drones in modern warfare. With only a single exception, most of these aforementioned titles released in the year 2014 depicted drones as either oppressive government surveillance tools, or as cold, calculated, autonomous machines used directly or indirectly to carry out killings.[2]

The years 2015 to 2017 saw the release of a combined total of 19 films featuring drones, with little to change to the image being projected about drones. All major movie titles released during these years consistently depicted drones as either autonomous militaristic killing machines,[3] miniature autonomous flying machines used by governments for nefarious purposes or, were simply evaluated within the context of modern warfare.[4] Even in ‘Furious 7’, a weaponized drone is seen chasing the protagonists of the movie through the streets of Los Angeles. For itself, the 2015 film “Eye in the Sky” features American and British operated drones that launch missile attacks, or tiny government drones that infiltrate terrorist compounds. More recently, the 2017 science fiction movie “Blade Runner 2049” features a detachable voice-controllable drone capable of surveying and mapping urban and subterranean areas.

Drones as Friendly and Good Machines That Come in Aid to Human Beings

Perhaps one of the best and rarest examples of a Hollywood movie production in which drones were depicted as friendly and helpful to humans is Steven Spielberg’s 1987 family comic science fiction film titled, “Batteries Not Included”.[5] In this movie, directed by Matthew Robbins, small living, drone-like, flying extraterrestrial robots come in aid to an old couple, Frank and Faye Riley, who manage an apartment building and café, and who are being threatened with eviction by a commercial land developer. After refusing bribes to move out, a group of thugs attempt to intimidate Frank and Faye into submission by vandalizing their café. Shortly after, a pair of alien drones (called the “Fix-Its”) make a visit to the apartment complex, repairing many of the damages caused by the vandals. When the building is finally burnt to the ground, the “Fix-Its” restore the apartment building and café overnight to brand new condition, forever dissuading the commercial and developer from touching the apartment complex. The elderly couple’s café does booming business as they employ the “Fix-Its” to run their business. Perhaps the only friendly reference to a drone in a major Hollywood production since “Batteries Not Included” is in the movie “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, when a small bug-sized drone flies off from Spider-Man.[6]

While Hollywood and the cinema industry may have an overall negative view and perception of drones as autonomous killing machines applied only in a military, defence, or security setting, reality is in truth very different. Drone manufacturers around the world are springing up to find new solutions and friendly applications for drones, and are redefining their role in society and how they interact with humans. Before looking at the major drone manufacturers, and how they are innovating in the drone industry, perhaps one of the most obvious ways that drones are being used for the greater good is in the newly emerging and increasingly popular sport of drone racing. A brief look at amateur and professional drone racing, and how it is reshaping public perception about drones is in order.

“Friendly Drones” & the Sports Industry

Leaving aside Hollywood science fiction movies and documentaries a concrete real-life example of how drones are proving to offer value outside of the military and intelligence apparatus is drone racing. A fairly recent phenomenon, FPV (“First-Person-View”) racing drones are changing people’s lives for the better, are driving technological innovation forward through competition, and are bringing local, regional, national, and international communities closer together. Two major driving forces behind this emerging and increasingly popular sport are the Drone Racing League (“IDRL”), and the International Drone Racing League (“IDRL”). Their growing influence in the drone industry has acted as an important catalyst to local drone racing leagues all over the world. Whether this sport will continue to remain a reality, or a thing of a George Lucas science fiction movies like Star Wars, may be too early to determine with certainty. An overview of the major players in the drone racing arena is perhaps the best and only indicia worth telling.

The Drone Racing League (“DRL”)

The Drone Racing League pioneered the sport of FPV (“First-Person-View”) drone racing, an activity in which drone pilots, equipped with 3D augmented reality goggles that receive a live/real-time video stream directly from a small camera mounted on the nose of their drone, race their drones through three-dimensional obstacle courses at speeds that can reach up to 120 miles per hour. Lux Capital, an early investor in the DRL, describes the sport of drone racing as follows:

“[…] What is drone racing? A high speed competitive sport where skilled pilots fly quad-copter drones through three-dimensional courses at speeds up to 120mph. First-person-view goggles display a real-time video feed from the perspective of the drone. Drone Racing League custom-builds drones for speed, agility, and performance and hosts events at iconic locations around the world. […]”[7]

During a televised drone race, in addition to standard sports coverage, spectators are given occasional glimpses of what pilots are seeing through their 3D augmented reality goggles (first-person-view), as if the spectator was the pilot sitting inside the drone. This is unquestionably one of the most unique and distinguishing feature of the “sport of the future”.

The American-based DRL was founded in 2015 by Nick Horbaczewski, and launched publicly with its first drone racing season in 2016. The idea of starting a drone racing league first occurred to Horbaczewski in 2015, after he witnessed his first drone race in a field behind a warehouse in Long Island, New York. 15 to 20 people were taking part in a drone race, each drone pilot having built their own racing drone.[8] Within a single year, authoritative commentators in the entertainment world were already referring to Horbaczewski’s new, unique creature of FPV drone racing as a Star Wars-like pod race. An important catalyst to the DRL’s quick launch and success was unquestionably its ability to secure early financing from major players. In addition to Allianz, one of the DRL’s earliest sponsors, the tech start-up also secured financing from World Wrestling Entertainment, Sky, Liberty Media Corporation (owner of Formula 1 racing brand), and Lux Capital.[9]

As the term “First-Person-View (FPV) drone racing” indicates, drone racing is first and foremost a visual, image-rich form of entertainment. In a world propelled by image and video-rich social media platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and the likes, the sport of FPV drone racing is unquestionably well-aligned to succeed in a modern, interconnected, 21st century digital economy.

The flip-side of a sport that that is primarily driven by live images and videos is the greater potential for amateur FPV drone racing enthusiasts posting videos and images of their drone racing skills to ascend to the professional ranks of the DRL. For its 2017 season, the DRL launched a drone racing video game competition using its very own Drone Racing Simulator.[10] Over the course of its virtual drone racing competition, over 100,000 amateur drone racing enthusiasts, incentivized by USD$75,000 in prize money, gathered online to clock-in their best and fastest FPV drone racing performance. Only 24 of the fastest and best drone racing pilots would move to the final Bud Light 2017 tryouts in New York City, where a single champion would be selected to participate in the DRL’s 2017 drone racing season. In the end, it was Jacob Schneider from the state of Indiana, U.S., that would take home the big prize money, and move on to compete in the DRL’s 2017 race. Other uniquely creative and innovative recruiting methods employed by the DRL include: word of mouth inside the professional drone racing community, as well as YouTube videos posted by amateur drone racing enthusiasts.

Another important and defining characteristic about the Drone Racing League is that it produces its own FPV racing drones in-house. Worded differently, each drone racing pilot taking part in a DRL race races the same drone. This unquestionably ensures that winning a drone race remains a matter of human skills and abilities. This is surprisingly different from the first drone race that was said to inspire DRL founded Nick Horbaczewski: “There were probably 15, 20 people there, the pilots had all made their own drones, some of them worked, some didn't ... drones would fall out of the sky and they would be crashing”.[11]For its 2017 season, the DRL developed the Racer3, a racing drone that was specifically design for speed, agility, competition, and perhaps more importantly to the sport of drone racing, entertainment.[12] The DRL’s Racer3 features, among other things, proprietary internal range radios for live events and broadcasts; 209 LED lights for enhanced visibility and drone racing pilot identification; a crash-resistant polycarbonate shell; and 6” triblade propellers that offer enhanced agility and in-flight traction.[13] Perhaps the most impressive feature of the DRL’s Racer3 is its ability of reaching 0 to 80 miles per hour in less than a second.[14] The Racer3 is also powered by a custom-designed five-cell battery that provides 1,800-milliamps and 7,000kg of static thrust.[15]

While its drone races may be strictly focused on human abilities, the drive to be at the forefront of drone racing and drone racing technology is also constantly propelling the DRL to create and innovate. More recently, for instance, the DRL developed the RacerX, which set a Guinness World Record title for reaching an astonishing average speed of 165.2MPH/265.87kmph, and the fastest one-way top speed of 179.78mph/289.32kmph.[16] As the DRL states, “the record-setting RacerX represents the culmination of years of technological innovation by the DRL Techops team”.[17] As of the date of this writing, the DRL’s RacerX is the fastest drone in the world. Surprisingly, the handmade RacerX uses only a few dozen parts, some of which were even 3D-printed TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane). The quadcopter drone design, which is surprisingly small in size, was careful to affix each piece so as to minimize drag. Critical to the success of the RacerX’s world record are its four highly powerful motors. Unarguably, the DRL and the RacerX’s world record have set into motion a race to be the world’s fastest drone.

Aside from its technological breakthroughs in the drone racing industry, the Drone Racing League has and will continue to play an important and critical role in redefining the public’s modern understanding and perception of “drones”. From a brand new and futurist sport, to a new amateur hobby and social activity, to a dream and career avenue for younger amateur drone hobbyists aspiring to become professional drone racing pilots, to fun, exciting, and flashy flying machines that effectively develop acuity of mind and vision as well as intellectual and motor reflexes, the Drone Racing League, and the inherent public nature of the sport, is taking the word “drone” outside the negative spotlight of autonomous military killing machines shined upon by the Hollywood industry. Increasingly, drones are being seen for their true value, potential, and worth. With the multitude of different academic disciplines involved in understanding FPV racing, from physics, to computer science, technology, engineering, to mathematics, film, media, sports and journalism, and the likes, drones are also proving to be invaluable aids for learning, from primary school to PhD academia levels. The publicized nature of the DRL is also acting as an important catalyst to local drone racing leagues that are bringing communities closer together.

International Drone Racing Association

General

Aside from the DRL, which is primarily a US-based professional drone racing league, other amateur and professional drone racing leagues and associations continue to emerge around the world. Perhaps one of the most obvious and noteworthy examples to this effect is the International Drone Racing Association (“IDRA”), an associated that was founded by Justin Haggerty. The fact that the IDRA describes itself as an association, rather than a league, is telling in regards to its aim and purpose. The IDRA describes its mission statement as follows:

The IDRA strives to grow this amazing community of tinkerers, dreamers, and innovators. We bring the sport and drone racing experience to spectators’ computers, mobile devices, and VR goggles. We market brands and products through sponsorships, social media campaigns, and licensing services via media and events. IDRA’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Campaign educates viewers on drone technologies and increases consumer awareness of the industry’s products and services.[18]

As the DRL was launching its 1st season, the IDRA was going global as it launched a series of drone races in different parts of the world. The 2016 final, the “World Drone Prix”, took place in Dubai with USD$250,000 in prize money attaching to first place, a prize which was won by 15 year old UK national Luke Bannister with team Tornado X-Blades Banni UK.[19] The IDRA’s World Drone Prix, which can viewed on YouTube, was also featured in sensational ad entitled “Drone vs McLaren in Dubai”, in which a drone can be seen racing a McLaren in the streets of Dubai.

International Dimensions of Drone Racing

In 2017, while the DRL was saddling up for its season 2, the IDRA and its partner NASCAR were prepping for the first race of the 2017 IDRA’s drone racing series, which took place at the Dover International Speedway. Unlike the DRL, which featured individual pilots competing against one another, the IDRA’s 2017 seasonfeatured 16 professional teams, with four (4) pilots on each team, and a pit crew. Whereas most DRL races were 4 out of 6 races took place in the U.S. (Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, Boston, the last two races taking place in Munich and London respectively), the IDRA’s drone races were held in Portugal, South Korea, Russia, China, and Amsterdam. The IDRA is in that sense more cosmopolitan, and places an emphasis on team spirit and collaboration. Like the DRL, the IDRA has played a significant role in promoting a positive image of drones within the global community.[20] As well, it continues to inspire amateur FPV drone racing enthusiast, both young and old.

MultiGP

General

Another important, and noteworthy drone racing league to have successfully emerged from the growing popularity of drone racing is MultiGP.[21] Self-proclaimed as the world’s “largest drone racing league”, MultiGP is more properly defined as a facilitator to the sport of drone racing. Local drone racing leagues can register as a local chapter governed under the umbrella of MultiGP. Unlike the DRL and IDRA, MultiGP adopts a modern, decentralized business model that takes full advantage of modern technologies and our interconnected world. The advantage for local leagues to register a chapter with MultiGP is to take advantage of the league’s organizational features and drone racing solutions: “MultiGP assists our chapters by acting as an invaluable resource by providing them with solutions to make their events organized and fun, not time consuming and burdensome”.[22]

Facilitating the Growth of Drone Racing as a Community Sport

Some of its solutions include RaceSync., a proprietary race frequency management software that “assigns racing slots and video frequencies in real time”. Using this software, drone racing pilots are able to create individual profiles, enlist their racing drone, and check-in via their smart phone on any given race day,[23]after which each drone pilot and racing drone is automatically and conveniently assigned a race slot and optimum video frequency. Other solutions offered by MultiGP include, for instance, racing gates as well as race flags designed to accommodate sponsor panels. Race organizers can also create their own unique and creative race tracks. MultiGP also offers a set of official standardized drone racing rules, drone specification classes, and other freely downloadable documents. MultiGP also helps promote the growth of drone racing across the world by offering prizes, and by offering drone hobbyists who create their own drones a platform through which they can display their drone racing creations.

A Comparison Between the DRL, IDRA, and MultiGP: The Future of Drone Racing

Like the DRL, and unlike the IDRA, MultiGP approach the sport of drone racing as an individual sport. In contrast, the IDRA conceptualized the sport of drone racing as a team-based effort, with each team being comprised of four (4) pilots, and a pit crew collaborating on every drone race. Whether the sport will ultimately take the form of an solo sport where each individual pilot competes against one another, like sprinting, or whether competitive efforts will adopt a team-based approach, like most televised professional sports, is still in the making.

Another critical and noteworthy difference between the DRL, MultiGP, and the IDRA, is the fact that the DRL, unlike MultiGP and the IDRA, produces its own FPV racing drones in-house, such that every drone racing pilot flies the same FPV racing drone. The obvious advantage of this approach is to ensure an even playing field for all drone racing pilots participating in any one race. The sport of drone racing, as conceptualized by the DRL, thus becomes a competition of human abilities, before and above all else, rather than a competition aimed at determining who has developed the best drone racing technology. Compared to any other professional sport, whether it be sprinting, boxing, basketball, hockey, or football, this would appear to be the right approach in that the sport of drone racing seeks to measure of sheer human abilities. Perhaps more to the point, the DRL takes the same approach to drone racing as Indy Cars takes towards motorsport racing. Indy Cars, as with the DRL, is a “specs series” where all the cars are the same, come from the same manufacturer, and have the same bodywork. The IDRA and MultiGP, on the other hand, adopt the Formula 1 approach whereby each team constructs their own distinctive race cars within a set of pre-defined standards and rules. Under the MultiGP approach, drone racing would seem to integrate, within the competitive nature of the sport, an element of technological innovation. Thus, MultiGP developed six (6) different classes of racing drones: tiny (19” x 19” – 726 mm x 483mm); Whoop (30” x 30” – 762mm x 762mm); 3S (5’ x 5’ – 1.52m x 1.52m); 4S (5’ x’5 – 1.52m x 1.52m); and open (5’ x 5’ – 1.52 x 1.52).[24] Interestingly, however, MultiGP, states that the reasons for having classes of racing drones are the following:

“1. They level the playing field so one pilot doesn’t have an advantage over another by using more powerful equipment. This allows the pilot’s skill to win the race, not their equipment. 2. Aircraft builds can be planned with confidence that they will be accepted into competition. 3. To ensure radio equipment is compatible with fellow pilot’s equipment as to not causer interference”.[25]

If the aforementioned reasons are accepted as the major premise underpinning MultiGP’s conceptualization of the sport of drone racing, it would then seem like the best solution to the sport of drone racing would be the DRL’s approach, i.e. in-house production of a single racing drone to be used by all drone racing pilots. In a technologically advanced sport like drone racing, one would think that even the slightest of details makes a different in the outcome of a race. In that sense, it becomes much more difficult to attribute the outcome of a MultiGP or IDRA drone race to sheer human skills and abilities.

Conversely, if one views technological innovation as a fundamental purpose and objective to be achieved through the competitive forces of drone racing, then the MultiGP and IDRA approach to allowing pilots and drone racing teams to build their own drones within pre-defined classes of drones is unquestionably a more desirable approach to developing the sport of drone racing. Whether the future sport of drone racing should evolve from a competition driven by sheer human skills and abilities, or whether it is a competition in which technological innovation is but one measurement of the human skills and abilities that are at play in the sport of drone racing, is still in the making. It may well be that both approaches will play an important symbiotic relationship in growing the future sport of drone racing. One thing that remains certain when discussing the entertainment offered through the DRL, IDRA, and MultiGP, is that all are playing an invaluable role in redefining the meaning and purpose of drones.

The Future of Drone Racing: A Fractioned Global Community?

The world of drone racing is vast. For the most part, drone racing remains as unexplored and unknown as, say, continental North America remained unexplored to Europeans in the 15th century. With still such a vast amount of unclaimed territory, the race to be the first to plant a flag on a territory within the new world of drone racing is real, and the stakes are high. For better or for worst, this has led to a fragmentation of the global drone racing community into various local, provincial, state, national, and international drone racing leagues and associations. Canada, for instance, has seen some local drone racing leagues adopt the American-branded term “Drone Racing League” (e.g. Winnipeg Drone Racing League or, ‘WDRL’),[26] and find shelter under the American-based drone racing league giant, MultiGP. Yet, another stream of local drone racing groups sought to distinguish themselves from their American counter-parts by creating a Canadian drone racing brand, FPV Canada.[27]

Aside from horizontal fractioning (local, regional, and national leagues), the drone racing community is also experiencing vertical fractioning or, fractioning within. That is to say, in addition to territorial drone racing leagues, sub-leagues are being formed within these territorial leagues. The best example to this effect is with the recent emergence of DR1 Racing. Based-in Hollywood, California, DR1 Racing describes itself as the “world’s biggest micro drone racing series”, and as “a world-class drone racing organization that combines elite pilots, epic locations and adrenaline-filled races into one high-octane sports league.”[28]Unlike the racing drones that compete in the DRL or IDRA, DR1 Racing focuses exclusively on micro drone racing. The slower speeds found in the sport of micro drone racing is said to be targeted to a family audience.

In essence, DR1 Racing is a subset of drone racing that focuses strictly on “micro drones”, as opposed to small or medium racing drones as seen on the DRL, IDRA, or MultiGP. Unlike the DRL but similar to the IDRA, DR1 Racing adopts a team-based approach to FPV drone racing, in that it features pairs of professional drone racing pilots. Similar to the DRL, and unlike the more conservative approach to MultiGP, DR1 Racing features visually entertaining and highly captivating obstacle courses that seek to exploit the full pleasure and excitement of racing drones along three-dimensional race courses, and to test the skills and abilities of its participants.

Perhaps the greatest evidence of a fractioned global drone racing community occurred in 2016, when the International Drone Racing Association affirmed that it would not be sanctioning the 2016 US Drone Racing National Championship at Governors Island in New York City, or the 2016 World Drone Racing Championships (“Drone Worlds”) in Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii.[29] Both events we organized under the umbrella of yet another drone racing association, the Drone Sports Association (“DSA”). Not surprisingly, the events were backed by major sponsors, notably GoPro, AIG, EMC, and Ernst & Young.[30] Both events occurred in tandem with the DRL’s own 2016 DRL World Championship, with Allianz as its major title sponsor, as well as with the IDRA’s own world drone racing championship in Dubai, the “World Drone Prix” (unfittingly labelled by some as the Super Bowl of Drone Racing).[31] This last event was sponsored by Skydive Dubai, X Dubai, Dubai Calendar and RTA, and was organized by Sheikh Hamdan, crown prince of Dubay, UAE, as well as the World Organization of Racing Drones (“WORD”), with the Aerial Grand Prix (“AGP”) and the IDRA both acting as co-producers for the event.[32]

Even in 2017, with so many drone leagues and associations, all backed by big companies with competing financial interests, the world of drone racing still lacks the coherence and organization needed to declare one world champion, as the DRL was so ably capable of declaring the world’s fastest drone with its RacerX. Looking at the various drone racing leagues and associations that have and continue to emerge, it is evident that the sport of drone racing is still very much in the making. Until a needle and thread can patch together the various drone racing leagues and associations that currently plague the sport of drone racing, it remains unlikely that the world of drone racing will ever find the “Usain Bolt” of drone racing. Conversely, the drone racing industry is springing up at the speed of light. While it may presently lack the level of organization one would expect from a professional sport, the end line is certainly in the line of sight.

CHAPTER 3: DRONES & THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY

General

Despite the presence of big names like AIG and Allianz backing the professional world of FPV drone racing, the same relative degree of uncertainty seen in the nascent industry of professional drone racing is also present in the insurance sector. A first question to ask is perhaps whether drone insurance is even relevant or important? We believe this question must be answered in the affirmative. For major drone manufacturers and other important stakeholders in the drone industry to continue innovating, and for drones to find their full use and potential in advanced economies, some degree of risk must be assumed in order to extract the convenience and efficiency that drones have to offer. To prevent that same risk from stifling innovation and creativity in the drone industry, drone insurance plays a vital role.

Drones & Risks

At present, a non-exhaustive list of some of the most often-cited risks and dangers associated with the use of drones include, in no particular order of important, the following:

  • a)Bodily harm or injury

Earlier in 2017, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), along with several universities, released a research study, which also includes videos of their experiments, detailing the consequences of a drone falling on a person’s head, and causing either blunt force trauma, penetration injuries, or lacerations.[33] The research was conducted with a view to allowing companies to fly drones above people (companies were then prohibited from flying drones above people without obtaining permission). The FAA concluded that the impact of a drone on a person’s head is less severe that other materials, such as steel debris or wood blocks.[34] The reason being that the drone, due to its flexible materials, absorbs most of the shock upon impact.[35] Furthermore, the drone’s descending speed is also reduced by drag that is, the air resistance that slowed the drone’s descent.[36] Despite these findings that drones falling from the sky are perhaps not as dangerous as one might otherwise assume them to be, the research concluded that drones falling from the sky still present a dangerous risk to humans, most notably because a drone’s propeller blades (at least, without the presence of propeller guards) can slice through a person’s skin.[37] Other parts of a drone, depending on a drone’s layout and configuration, are also less likely to absorb shock. This would include, for instance, motors, batteries, and cargo.[38]

The FAA’s research should be read with some nuance. For instance, the FAA references “Small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) platforms”. However, the term “small” is a relative term. Commercial, industrial, and personal hobby drones, despite being small relative to military drones, can be categorized into four different drone sizes: micro (or nano, mini), small, medium, and big (or large) drones.[39] A DJI Inspire 2 drone may be a “small” drown relative to a U.S. military Reaper MQ-9, it is relatively big or large compared to, say, a Diatone Tyrant 180 FPV racing quadcopter drone, and a Diatone Tyrant 180 FPV racing quadcopter drone is bigger than an H111D micro quadcopter toy drone. Each one of these drones fulfilling their own distinctive purpose, and each drone having their own size and drone frame configuration, each one of these drones will also come with their own distinctive risks and dangers.

The labelling of drones as either commercial and industrial drones, or as personal hobby drones is not relevant for the purpose of assessing risk. Consider, for instance, the impact-resistant, Swiss-made drone Elios. Elios is a small, impact-resistant drone developed for the unique purpose of exploring cluttered indoor, and complex confined spaces, such as mines, for instance. Unique about Elios is the fact that it flies within a protective three-dimensional sphere. The ultra-light carbon fiber spherical net that surrounds it enables it to “bounce” off any surrounding object. With this in-mind, it becomes hard to wrap one’s head around how the FAA’s conclusion regarding the risk posed by “Small Unmanned Aerial Systems” can categorically be applied to all commercial and industrial drones like, Elios. To affirm that only commercial and industrial drones pose a risk to human beings is categorically untrue.

Notwithstanding the above, there already exists a wealth of stories about drones causing bodily injury to human beings. Perhaps one of the most notorious (and fitting) examples was the rogue drone which did not crash into cyclist Kaito Clarke’s helmet during the Golden State Race Series in Rancho Cordova, California.[40] Rather, parts of the more flexible drone parts flew into the front wheel of his bicycle, causing him to “trip” and flip over the handlebar, into the air, and onto the pavement. The cyclist walked away from the incident with a broken wheel, helmet, and some road rash. Other, and perhaps more serious and unfortunate, examples of drones causing injury include:

  • an 18-month-old toddler in the UK losing his eye after it was sliced open by a drone propeller after its operator loss control;
  • a woman being knocked unconscious in Seattle, Washington, after a drone ricocheted off a building, and into her head;[41]
  • Facial lacerations to an 11-month-old girl in a stroller in Pasadena, California, after a drone crashed into her fact;
  • A reporter being cut under her chin by a drone during a promotional event;[42]
  • Full thickness Corneal Laceration sustained by a father after his eye came in contact with the unguarded propeller of a Parrot SA Rolling Spider drone;[43]
  • Physical and emotional injuries sustained by two wedding guests after a drone crashed into them during a wedding reception in Rockingham, North Carolina.[44]
  • b)Hijacking, jamming, and spoofing

In September 2017, FBI Director Christopher Wray and director of the National Counterterrorism Center Nicholas Rasmussen, both discussed, during a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing, the real and imminent threat posed by terrorists using drones to carry out attacks.[45] According to Rasmussen, the threat posed by drones “could be dropping small explosives the size of a grenade. It could be dispersal of toxins, potentially”.[46] In October 2017, Mexican Federal Police interdicted an improvised explosive drone equipped with an IED and a remote detonator following a “high-risk” vehicle stop in Mexico. American security officials warned of terrorist and criminal organizations using weaponized drones carry out precision strikes against an intended target.[47] The Internet is riddled with news stories about terrorist and criminal organizations using consumer drones for nefarious and harmful purposes.

Often overlooked, however, is the equally if not more concerning risk of “friendly” consumer drones being either hacked, hijacked, jammed, and/or spoofed.[48] In late 2016, Ars Technica reported on a “new way to take down drones”, referring to a radio transmitter created by Jonathan Andersson, an advanced security research group manager at Trend Micro’s TippingPoint DVLab division. The device, called “Icarus”, was presented at the 2016 PacSec security conference in Tokyo, Japan. The device in question:

[…] seizes complete control of nearby drones as they’re in mid-flight. From then on, the drones are under the full control of the person with the hijacking device. The remote control in the possession of the original operator experiences a loss of all functions, including screening, acceleration, and altitude. […][49]

Its creator contrasted the device to the less sophisticated frequency jammer, which simply prevents a drone’s ground station from communicating with it to issue “commands and control”. While such a device could be used by to take control of “enemy drones”, it would also be used by enemies to take control over “friendly drones”. One can simply imagine, for instance, a hobby drone being hacked, hijacked, and re-directed to crash into a commercial flight or news helicopter.

Another example of the risks that could result from a drone hijack is perhaps best evoked by the story of a Chinese-manufactured DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter drone that crashed into a tree before falling on the South Lawn of the White House in January 2015. Its pilot, who coincidently turned out to be an intelligence agency employee, affirmed he had been flying the drone near the White House from his apartment for recreational purposes; he explained that he suddenly “lost control” over his drone. The Phantom drone was allegedly “too small and flying too low” to be detected by radar.[50]

Also concerning was the fact that the drone operator was not its owner; rather, the drone had been borrowed from a friend of the operator. Interestingly, the incident occurred days after a conference had been held in Arlington, Virginia, by the Department of Homeland Security on the dangers that consumer drones pose to critical infrastructure and government facilities.[51] While no mention was made about the drone being hijacked, jammed, or spoofed, the loss of control experienced by the pilot would not be unlike the events that were experienced during the incident involving the Phantom 2 and the White House. Interestingly, this incident prompted the Chinese manufacturer to release a mandatory firmware update on its Phantom 2 drone that would prevent the drone from flying within a 15.5-mile radius, a practice referred to as GPS Geofencing.

There currently exist security-minded drone manufacturers that encrypt the signal transmission network between ground station and drone.[52] Consider, for instance, the newly released H520 hexacopter drone by Yuneec. Among many other safety features, the H520 contains a video downlink encryption according to the Wi-Fi Protected Access (“WPA”) standard, one of two security protocols and security certification programs developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to secure wireless computer networks. The H520 network connection is also protected by dynamic password technology; no data transfer is made to an external server. However, the reality is that many drone manufacturers do not have such security and safety issues in mind when designing their drones, especially consumer hobby drones.

  • c)Mid-Air Collisions

In 2009, a U.S. Airways jet lost both its engines and crashed into the Hudson River after flying through a flock of geese coming out of New York.[53] Just as geese, wedge-tailed eagles,[54] white swans,[55] and other species of the avian family are liable to fly into airborne objects like commercial airplanes or even military helicopters,[56] drones are also liable to fly into airborne things like birds,[57] helicopters, airplanes, hot-air balloons, and the likes.

Last year, the U.S. FAA had reported 583 near misses between drones and planes, more than three times the number in 2014. According to the U.S. Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College’s report entitled “Drone Sightings and Close Encounters: Analysis”, a comprehensive and detailed analysis of incidents involving “unmanned aircraft and manned aircraft in the U.S. National Airspace System”, 35.5% of its 921 records collected from December 17, 2013 to September 12, 2015, involved “close encounters”, and 64.5 percent were confirmed sightings.[58] Fifty-one incidents were within 50 feet or less from an aircraft, and in 28 incidents, the pilot(s) had to take evasive manoeuvres to avoid a collision.[59] At least 90 incidents involved a commercial aircraft, the majority of which were capable of carrying 50 or more passengers.[60] In the UK, the UK Airprox Board revealed 23 near-misses around UK airports within a six months period in 2015.[61] Of these 23-near-misses, 12 were given a “serious risk” “A” rating by the independent UK board. Some of the most serious collisions and near-misses between drones and manned aircrafts is instructive.

In late September of 2017, for instance, a hobby drone flying illegally over Staten Island struck a Black Hawk UA60 military helicopter in mid-air, causing damage to one of its rotor blades. The North-Carolina-based military helicopters had been in New York City for the United Nationals General Assembly week.[62] In late October 2017, a drone was reported crashing into a six-passenger commercial aircraft operated by SkyJet. The airplane in question was on its descent for Jean Lesage International Airport in Quebec City, Canada.[63] One year prior to this incident, near Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, a near mid-air collision was reported by a commercial airline operated by Porter Airline. The sudden evasive action taken by the pilots to avoid a mid-air collision with what appeared to be a drone lead to two crew members suffering minor injuries.[64] In yet another incident, a “packed British Airways plane passenger jet” was hit by a suspected drone during its descending approach to Heathrow Airport.[65] An amateur video posted on YouTube offers the most sobering image of what can happen when a hobby drone comes into contact with a commercial airplane.[66]

  • d)Negligence (including gross negligence)

Another important risk surrounding drones is human negligence. In this regard, a report published by a team of academics and researchers

  • e)Physical damage to drones or drone payload (e.g. camera)

The price of consumer drones can easily reach five (5) figure numbers. Most often, the drone’s most invaluable asset is its payload, which normally takes the form of aerial photography or filming equipment, which can also easily reach five (5) figure numbers. With such high-prized items flying high up in the air, physical damage to a drone or the payload it carries is a real and costly risk.

  • f)Privacy

The threat to privacy posed by modern interconnected technologies has and continues to be a growing concern to people living advanced informational economies. Drones pose no less of a concern to individual privacy. Indeed, most drones are equipped with high-definition (“HD”) and ultra-high definition (“UHD”) cameras. Many drones also come with advanced flight and photography modes, such as “follow-me” mode, where a drone is capable of locking onto, and autonomously follow a designated subject. Many drones also offer live/real-time video streaming onto an HD LCD screen integrated directly into a drone’s ground control station/remote control. While most drones are fairly noisy, and are usually equipped with highly visible flashing LED lights, drones can easily be modified, such that it isn’t to difficult to envision how drones can pose a threat to individual privacy.

  • g)Product Liability

As drones continue to grow in popularity around the world, and as drones are increasingly being sought to accomplish a growing number of tasks previously accomplished by humans, more and more drone manufacturers are emerging, perhaps most notably in the United States and China. More than ever, small start-ups are taking advantage of the Internet’s global reach to get in touch with manufacturers in China to have their very own brand of drone manufactured at a low cost. Recognizing the emergence of the “prosumer” class, a class of consumers that produce their own products, major drone manufacturers are also offering “Do-It-Yourself” drone kits. Combined with the large volume of transactions occurring in the online e-commerce world, the multiplication of parties involved in the production of drones can lead to difficulties in enforcing quality standards. This, in turn, means greater product liability exposure in the consumer drone industry.[67]

  • h)Property damage

The risk of property damage caused by drones is no less real than the risk to bodily harm or injury. Consider, for instance, a 3DR Solo drone that collided with a wind turbine,[68] or even a drone collision involving one of America’s most iconic buildings, the Seattle Space Needle. While no property damage was sustained in this particular instance, if a drone is capable of crashing into a needle, then it becomes easy to imagine how such property damage could easily arise at any given time.[69]

  • i)Trespass and nuisance

One on considers news stories involving hobby drones crashing onto White House grounds,[70] in front of public figures like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, flying in close proximity to news helicopters and professional sports stadiums,[71] the risk of drones committing trespass or nuisance, and the civil suits that would ensue from such trespassing or nuisance, are real risks.

CHAPTER 4: DRONES AS COMMERCIAL & INDUSTRIAL MACHINES

Distinguishing Between Commercial, Industrial, and Personal Hobby Drones

Before engaging in an in-depth discussion on the anatomy of drones, a few clarifications are in order. For the purpose of this work, unless otherwise specified, the term “consumer” will refer invariably to persons and businesses, and the term “drone industry” will refer broadly to commercial, industrial, and personal hobby drones. The category of “commercial drones” will be understood as included drones that are exploited through a commercial activity. The best and most obvious examples are drones that exploited by professional photographers for their aerial photography or filming capabilities. For instance, the Canadian company “The Sky Guys” offers their professional drone flying abilities, as well as their aerial drone photography, filming, and mapping skills as a service to the general public. Industrial drones are typically designed to serve a particular purpose within a specific industry sector. While they can also be the object of a commercial activity, they are mostly used as a tool or accessory. For greater clarity and understanding, commercial drones are to lemons, as industrial drones are to hammers. Personal hobby drones, unlike commercial and industrial drones, are aimed at entertaining, whether it be through hobby flying, professional or amateur aerial drone photography, or FPV drone racing.

Commercial, Hobby, and Industrial Drone Manufacturers

Major drone manufacturers can be categorized in three (3) major categories: (A) drone manufacturers that focus exclusively on personal hobby drones; (B) drone manufacturers that focus on personal hobby drones, commercial drones, and industrial drones; and (C) drone manufacturers that focus strictly on either commercial or industrial drones. When looking at major, present day, consumer drone manufacturers, the following major trends become immediately apparent: (1) the personal consumer hobby drone industry segment, which includes FPV racing drones as well as professional aerial photography and filming drones, is dominated by major Chinese drone manufacturers; (2) only a minority of major drone manufacturers, the majority of which are of Chinese national origin, focus only on personal consumer hobby drones; (3) of the drone manufacturing companies that focus on all three drone industry segments that is, hobby, commercial, and industrial drones, major Chinese drone manufacturers also occupy a dominant position; (4) unlike companies of other national origin, none of the major present day Chinese drone manufacturing companies focus strictly on commercial and/or industrial drones; (5) major American drone manufacturers dominate the commercial and industrial segments of the drone industry. In short, whereas Chinese drone manufacturing companies appear to be focused on consumer markets, U.S. drone manufacturing companies appear to be focused on the commercial and industrial segments of the drone industry.

A look at the major drone manufacturers, and how they fit within the three (3) drone industry segments that is, person hobby drones, commercial drones, and industrial drones, serves to illustrate this point. The first section will focus on drone manufacturers that focus exclusively on personal hobby drones. The second section will examine major drone manufacturers that produce drones in all three drone sectors that is, hobby, commercial, and industrial. Finally, the last section will look at the more diverse companies that operate exclusively in either the commercial or industrial sector, or both. While the two first drone sectors appear to be dominated by Chinese companies, the third category appears to be more diverse in terms of the national origin of the companies that dominate these segments. The majority of drone manufacturers appear to operate in all three segments (commercial, industrial, and hobby drones).

(A)Personal Hobby Drone Manufacturers

China

The personal consumer hobby drone industry sector is unquestionably flooded by Chinese drone manufacturing companies. To name a few of the most popular brands, Eachine,[72] JJRC,[73] Wingsland[74], Hubsan[75], Cheerson[76], UDI,[77] and SYMA[78] are all highly popular Chinese brands that produce and supply drones to the personal consumer hobby drone sector. The Eachine Wizard X220, Aurora 90, Racer 250, Falcon 210, Falcon 120, Chaser88, Aurora 100, Aurora 68, Lizard 95, Racer 250 PRO, and dust X58 are all popular micro to small-sized First-Person-View quadcopter racing drones produced by Chinese drone manufacturer Eachine. Its products are made to appeal primarily to teenagers, young adults, and children. For its part, JJRC gained a lot of popularity through the release of its highly acclaimed P130 Battler, a small FPV quadcopter racing drone, and of the T1, a micro FPV racing drone. JJRC has also produced a series of popular hobby drones, such as the mini H36 toy quadcopter drone, the H37 foldable selfie pocket drone, and more recently, the H47 foldable pocket selfie drone with gravity sensing control. Most of its products are meant to appeal to children, teenagers, and young adults.

Wingsland, another highly popular name in the personal hobby drone sector, has produced some high-end drones that are perhaps more suitable for teenagers and adults. The most popular its products in the Wingsland S6, a pocket-size foldable selfie drone with 4K ultra-high definition capabilities, somatosensory control, voice control, and other intelligent flight and photography/filming features. Since then, Wingsland has released a series of other high-quality, popular drones: the Wingsland K3 Quadcopter drone; the Wingsland M5 Quadcopter drone; as well as the Wingsland Scarlet Minivet quadcopter drone. All form part of its new drone arsenal, and are equipped with excellent drone and camera modes and features.

With the exception of Hubsan, which has produced a high-quality professional-grade aerial photography drone, the H109S X4 PRO professional quadcopter drone, as well as a high-end FPV racing quadcopter drone, the H122D X4 Storm FPV quadcopter racing drone, other Chinese drone manufacturers, such as UDI, Cheerson, and SYMA, have gained their popularity in the personal hobby drone sector through the release of toy drones.

United States
GoPro

While not exclusively focused on the production of consumer drones, and perhaps better known for its high-definition action cameras, GoPro, Inc. (“GoPro”) released the popular Karma Drone series, which has been the most popular line of products the company has ever introduced. Now headquartered in San Matea, California, GoPro is at its origin an American tech company that was founded in California in 2002 by Nick Woodman. In 2014, GoPro launched the biggest initial public offering (“IPO”) since Duracell International Inc.’s IPO in 1991. Owing to the fact that the company gained its reputation amongst extreme sports enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers, GoPro’s line of drones is focused on personal hobby drones. Cheerson, JJRC, SYMA, Walkera, Eachine, Husban.

(B)Personal, Commercial, and Industrial Drone Manufacturers

China
Dà-Jiāng Innovations Science and Technology Co., Ltd. (“DJI”)

Dà-Jiāng Innovations Science and Technology Co., Ltd., most commonly known as “DJI” has its headquarters in Shenzhen, China’s tech and innovation hub across the border from Hong Kong, and currently has offices in U.S., Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. It was founded in 2006 by its current CEO, Frank Wang (Wāng Tāo). At the time of this writing, DJI is said to have a 70 percent (%) share on the world’s consumer drone market, and is valued at US$13.7 billion. Its best seller has been its series of Phantom drones.

Yuneec

Another highly popular brand in the consumer drone industry is Yuneec International Co. (“Yuneec”), a Chinese company headquartered in Kunshan Jiangsu, China, and has offices in Shanghai, Los Angeles, and Hamburg. The company was founded in Hong Kong in 1999 by Tian Yu. Yuneec describes itself as the global leader in electric aviation. Yuneec became popular amongst drone hobbyists when it introduced the first “ready-to-fly” out-of-the-box drone that is, the Typhoon Q500 quadcopter drone. In 2015, Yuneec received US$60 million in funding from Intel. In June 2017, Yuneec announced the appointment of its new CEO, former chairman and president of Motorola Systems China and former Executive Vice President of Ericsson China and Northeast Asia, Jiang Hao (Michael Jiang).

Beijing Yi-Hang Creation Science & Technology Co., Ltd. (EHANG)

Ehang is another leading Chinese drone manufacturer. Early in 2016, Ehang announced it had developed passenger-carrying drones. It further announced that it would be launching various projects involving “autonomous flying-taxis”, notably with Dubai’s Road & Transportation Agency, as well as with Nevada’s Institute for Autonomous Systems. The Ehang 184 is a highly innovative, autonomous, safe, and eco-friendly low altitude aerial vehicle that aims to provide a means of transportation for medium to short distances.[79] Ehang also gained significant exposure and popularity within the consumer drone industry with the arrival of its new quadcopter drone, the GhostDrone 2.0.[80] The drone is aimed at the personal hobby drone market, and is entirely controllable from a smart phone. In addition to having its rotors mounted below the tips of the drone’s propeller arms, a rare and unique feature among similar class drones, the GhostDrone will also mimic the movements of the drone pilot’s smart phone (“Avatar” drone control). In also features a variety of intelligent flight modes, notably “failsafe” flight modes whereby the drone pilots itself to its departure point when its battery energy is low.

Guangzhou Walkera Technology Co., Ltd. (“Walkera”)

Walkera is another important Chinese player in the consumer drone industry. The company was founded in 1994, and is headquartered in the heart of the Pearl River Delta in the Panyu District of Guangzhou. Walkera successfully made its entrance in the consumer drone market through its popular hobby drones, notably the LadyBird micro quadcopter drone. Its hobby drones include a series of First-Person-View (“FPV”) quadcopter racing drones: The Furious 215 quadcopter racing drone; the Rodeo110 FPV quadcopter racing drone; the Runner 250 PRO FPV quadcopter racing drone; the Rodeo150 FPV quadcopter racing drone; the F210 3D FPV quadcopter racing drone; as well as the F210 FPV quadcopter racing drone.[81] Walkera also released a smaller personal hobby drone that focuses on pleasure flying that offers 4K ultra-high definition aerial photography and filming capabilities, the Aibao quadcopter drone.[82] Walkera also developed a series of high-quality drones that can be deployed for commercial and industrial purposes. These drones include four medium size quadcopter drones: the QR X350 Premium quadcopter drone; the TALI-H500 hexacopter drone; the Scout X4 quadcopter drone; the Voyager 3 quadcopter drone; as well as the Voyager 4 quadcopter drone.[83] Walkera also released a larger high-quality hexacopter drone, the QR X900 and QR X900 PRO, with commercial TV-grade aerial photography and filming capabilities. Although initially designed for personal hobby and commercial purposes, the success of Walkera’s multirotors quickly saw their use expanded to industrial purposes. Some of its drones were effectively deployed by Chinese military and law enforcement agencies as trainers for mode advanced UAV drones. Sometime in June 2014, Walkera also opened a division in the United States, iUAS Inc., through which it began distributing some of its existing drones in the U.S. More recently, iUAS Inc. began manufacturing drone models for cinematography, agriculture, and security.

United States
3D Robotics

3D Robotics (“3DR”) is a U.S. company founded by Chris Anderson, and is based in Berkeley, California. The company focuses on advanced autonomous drones, and is perhaps best known for its Iris+ quadcopter drone. 3D Robotics is said to have been the first drone manufacturer to develop the “Follow Me” mode, a technology whereby a drone is locked onto a subject, and autonomously tracks and follows that same subject; the camera also remains centered on the designated subject. 3DR produces the medium size, high-quality, Solo quadcopter drone, which features a Sony UMC-R10C camera, described as “the best camera on any drone under 2 kg”. 3DR’s Solo drone is describe as the world’s first “smart drone”, notably because of its autonomous GPS waypoint drone flight planning. In addition to being suitable as a personal consumer hobby drone, the 3DR Solo quadcopter drone’s superior capability to gather highly accurate data makes it suitable for a variety of different industry purposes: construction; surveying and mapping; utilities and telecom; insurance; public safety; agriculture; and photography and filming.

Autel Robotics

Another, less-known American company that operates in the commercial, industrial, and personal hobby drone market segments is Autel Robotics, a company which is headquartered in Washington. In addition to various drones that target personal drone hobbyists, Autel Robotics also offers a variety of commercial and industrial drone solutions. With respect to its personal hobby drones, Autel Robotics offers two options, both of which target hobby drones for their aerial photography and filming capabilities. The medium-size X-Star Premium quadcopter drone is marketed as an “easy-to-fly quadcopter designed for superb aerial imagery”. More innovative, however, is Autel Robotics’ FLIR Duo system, which is capable of capturing a highly detailed thermal reading image by pixel color variation, in addition to a standard visual image in 1080P. Also innovative is its electrical takeoff and landing Kestrel drone, a fixed-wing UAV designed for long-range, high speed missions. Autel Robotics markets its drone as being suitable for agricultural, disaster management, resource mapping, oil and gas inspections, security, as well as for general imaging and photography.

France
Parrot SA

Another highly popular drone manufacturer that operates in the hobby and commercial or industrial sectors (or, which offers “business solutions”), is the French company Parrot. Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Paris, France, the company fittingly gained its name and popularity through technologies involving voice recognition and signal processing for embedded products, before later launching the Parrot AR Drone in 2010 at CES Las Vegas.[84] In 2012, Parrot is said to have acquired 57% of the highly popular Swiss-based drone company SenseFly, a company founded in 2009 that rapidly become the leader in mapping drones for commercial and industrial purposes. Parrot SA also acquired 25% of Swiss photogrammetry company Pix4D, a commercial and industrial drone company that specializes in the creation of professional georeferenced maps and models from drone imagery. In 2014, Parrot SA increased its share in the company to 57%. That same year, Parrot SA introduced its flying micro toy drone, the “Rolling Spider”, once more at the CES in Las Vegas. At the annual AUVSI conference in Orlando, the company announced the AR Drone 3.0 (more commonly known as Bebop). Expanding its presence in the consumer hobby drone sector, Parrot SA created a subsidiary in 2015 called “Parrot Drones” (“Parrot”). In November of 2015, Parrot Drones revealed its newest creation, the Bebop 2 drone. It also expanded its reach in the consumer drone sector by acquiring shares in drone start-ups, namely Airinov, EOS, Iconem, Innovation, and Micasense. At present, Parrot has amassed an impressive fleet of high-quality drones, which include various editions of: the Parrot Bebop 2; Parrot Mambo FPV; Parrot Disco FPV; AR Drone 2.0; and Parrot Swing.

In addition, with its shares in Swiss company SenseFly, Parrot also developed high-quality business solutions in the agricultural sector with its eBee SQ, which it describes as “the complete agricultural drone solution for aerial crop analysis”.[85] It also markets its 500 g Parrot Bebop 2 as a drone that is highly suitable for gathering accurate data about properties, whether it be for “capturing stunning views of the land around your house, for creating measurable 3D models to plan for solar panel installation or for counting how many tiles are missing after the latest storm”.[86]

Finally, Parrot also innovated in the drone industry by developing a variety of educational programs aimed for students “from primary school to PhD level”. As Parrot correctly recognized, drones cut across a multitude of academic disciplines, from science, technology, physics, engineering, mathematics, film, media, and journalism, and offers invaluable learning opportunities for students of all ages. As part of its efforts to reach global academic communities of all ages, Parrot developed a variety of innovative drone-related programs. Its program Tynker, for instance, is described as “a complete learning system that teaches kids to code”. Another program, the Parrot Flight School, “makes it possible to write code and to control your drone directly from a web browser”. Parrot’s “Apple Swift Playgrounds” lets users program aerobatic maneuvers for their drones.

(C)Commercial and Industrial Drone Manufacturers

Netherlands
Aerialtronics

Aerialtronics, a drone manufacturing company based in the Netherlands, produces a highly advanced quadcopter drone, the Altura Zenith, that can be applied and adapted to a wide range of commercial and/or industrial purposes, namely: safety and security; search and rescue; powerline inspection; oil and gas; telecom inspection; wind turbine inspection; as well as surveying.[87] Unlike many of the aforementioned Chinese drone manufacturers, Aerialtronics focuses exclusively on the commercial and industrial segments of the consumer drone industry. The Altura Zenith drones is equipped with a variety of highly unique and innovative features. The Zenith is equipped with the company’s “Pensar” system, “world’s first dual spectrum computer vision platform”.[88] More interestingly, while detecting, recognizing, and annotating objects or characters of interest, the Zenith incorporates a “privacy masking” mode which is said to guarantee privacy protection bystanders by utilizing autonomous censoring capabilities of the drone platform. In addition to having the “widest payload compatibility on the market today”, the Zenith is equipped with a high capacity battery that allows it to fly up to 40 minutes, as well as eight (8) motors that provide redundancy in the event of engine failure.

Canada
Aeryon Labs Inc.

Aeryon Labs Inc., a Canadian-based drone manufacturing company headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, focuses on the industrial segment of the drone industry. It produces a high-quality drone, the Aeryon Skyranger quadcopter drone, that can be deployed for a wide range of industrial applications. Aeryon segments these applications into three (3) main categories, each subdivided into four (4) subcategories: (1) military (a) cover operations, (b) emergency and disaster response, (c) perimeter and convoy security, and (d) tactical operations; (2) public safety (a) emergency and disaster response, (b) investigations, (c) tactical operations, and (d) traffic accident reconstruction; (3) and energy (a) utilities, (b) oil and gas, (c) surveying and mapping, (d) wildlife monitoring. The Skyranger features, among other things, four (4) small and quiet electric motors, touch-screen GPS-based interface with a control range of 3 km (1.9 mile), as well as thermal and infrared imaging for night flying. The Skyranger also allows for pre-planned flight paths and simultaneous control of multiple units for superior aerial security coverage. What allows the Aeryon to adapt to a wide range of commercial and industrial applications is the various custom Aeryon Payloads that can be installed on the Skyranger.

United States
CyPhy

CyPhy, a drone manufacturing company based in Massachusetts, focuses on the commercial and industrial segments on the consumer drone industry. CyPhy developed the Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (“PARC”) platform, which it describes as a breakthrough in drone technology that opens the UAV market to commercial customers. Its advanced, fully autonomous flight features allow the drone operator to focus on the objective underlying the drone’s deployment, rather than focusing on drone command and control. Where CyPhy distinguishes itself from the competition is through its patented microfilament tethered system, which provides secure communication as well as continuous flight capable of lasting for days, rather than the standard minutes of battery-powered drone.[89] CyPhy’s drone is also marketed as being a highly portable and rapidly deployable all-weather drone capable to US military standards that can operate persistently and autonomously even in high winds, with a maximum altitude of 400 feet.

Freefly

Freefly, a U.S. based company, was founded sometime in 2011 in Seattle. While their company is focused on bringing high-end photography and filming solutions to the world of cinema, some of its latest innovations include the Alta 8 and Alta 6, two high-quality aerial photography and filming drones adapted for the professional film industry. Its drones undergo a battery of testing before being launched out on the market. Some of the key features offered through the Alta 8 include a proprietary high-speed data logging that allows its pilot to extract invaluable insights into the performance of the drone. The Alta 8 is one of the rare drones that is capable of supporting heavy payloads on both top and bottom. Payloads can easily be mounted and dismounted with an innovative quick release, designed to accelerate payload customization on movie sets. The Alta 8 is also equipped with “adjustable o-ring isolation design”, a system pioneered by Freefly to isolate in-flight vibration for ultra-steady and smooth shooting. The Alta was also designed as a weather resistant drone, thanks to a lightweight molded plastic enclosure used to cover the flight control and power distribution board (“PDB”), as well as two fully enclosed receiver mounting bays to keep sensitive components protected and dry.

Freefly’s Alta 6 drone is worthy of mention. It integrates an ingenious and highly unique foldable design that reduces the drone’s overall size from 1533mm to 515mm, a total size reduction of 33% of its flying diameter. This feature makes the Alta 6 highly portable and easy to carry around. Arguably one of the best, most innovative, and unique feature of the Alta is the fact that is the “first multi-rotor to accept a camera on top of the airframe”. This allows the Alta 6 to offer stunning footage of the ground below, as well as of the sky above. The ability to carry payloads on the top and bottom of the airframe further speaks to the Alta’s sheer power and payload carrying capacity.

Insitu

Insitu is an American drone manufacturer based in Washington. Since 2004, Insitu has been offering advanced, military-grade unmanned aerial system (“UAS”) solutions to its global defence customers. In the spring of 2015, for instance, Insitu deployed its ScanEagle from the Royal Navy’s HMS Richmond for the purpose of conducting counter-piracy and counter-drug-smuggling surveillance. Actionable data collected by the ScanEagle eventually enabled commanders to dispatch the Royal Navy, as well as ships from the New Zealand and Australian navy. The combined operations overturned nearly one ton of heroin carrying an estimated street value of $150 million. Aside from law enforcement and government operations, Insitu also offers industrial and commercial-grade drone solutions. Insitu highlights the ability of its drones to conduct safe inspections in otherwise harsh, dangerous, and sometimes hard-to-reach environments. As an example, Insitu cites the case of oil spills, and the role that its systems can play in accelerating the shoreline cleanup process. Aside from the oil and gas sector, Insitu also cites the railroad and utilities, border patrol, as well as wildfire as examples of industrial and commercial applications for its UAS solutions.

Intel

Intel has developed a high-quality, professional unmanned aerial vehicle, the Falcon 8+, which can easily be deployed for a wide variety of industrial or commercial purposes. Unique about Intel’s Falcon 8+ drone is its patented V-shape design, a feature that enhances the drone’s data gathering capabilities. Also interesting to note about the Falcon 8+ is its concern for privacy; the Falcon 8+ was designed as a closed system with “isolated on-board data storage that does not transmit data over the public Internet”.[90] The Falcon 8+ ground station also features a unique joystick design for single-hand flight control. The Falcon 8+ is said to be designed for the purpose of offering stable flights in extreme influences, such as weak GPS signals, high winds, as well as resistance to magnetic field disturbances. Intel made safety a primary concern for the Falcon 8+. It has done so by ensuring maximum redundancy in electronic and hardware systems, communications, batteries, rotors, and motors. In addition to being relatively small, compact, and easy to carry around when traveling, Intel Powerpack batteries also enhance the Falcon 8+’s portability on airline flights.

Another commercial drone solution offered by Intel is the ready-to-fly Aero drone. In addition to being preprogrammed and fully assembled, Intel markets the Aero drone as being “geared for developers and researchers to help get applications airborne quickly’.[91]The Aero is equipped with obstacle avoidance capabilities, a quad-core Intel Atom processor, an Intel Aero Compute board, as well as an Intel Aero Vision Accessory Kit, which includes an Intel RealSense camera. The Intel Aero runs on open-source Linux operating system, and integrates a preprogrammed drone flight controller.

Kespry

Kespry is an American, California-based drone company that offers commercial and industrial drone solutions. Examples of applications cited by Kespry include construction, aggregates and mining, as well as insurance and roofing. In interesting contrast to Intel’s Falcon 8+ remote control, which features a joystick for single hand control, Kespry markets its Kespry drone has having no joystick, a favourable feature for individuals without any piloting skills. Kespry also highlights user-friendliness and automation as desirable features associated with its Kespry UAV solution. It also features obstacle avoidance sensors, as well as dual frequency GNSS receivers that greatly reduce if not eliminate electronic signal interference endemic to industrial settings. Another unique feature offered by Kespry is an all-inclusive solution that includes unlimited drone flight data storage and backup in the Kespry cloud. Overall, Kespry offers user-friendly solutions within more complex commercial and industrial settings. Its Kespry drone is designed to be easily deployed and flown, regardless of flight experience.

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is highly reputable in the defence industry. In addition to a growing portfolio of highly sophisticated and large unmanned aerial systems (“UAS”) that are being deployed in the defence and military sectors, Lockheed Martin also offers smaller UAS solutions to commercial customers. One such example is the Lockheed Martin Procerus Technologies Indago UAS quadrotor. Applications cited by Lockheed Martin include precision agriculture, firefighting, first response, mapping, surveying, and inspections. It markets its drone as being easily and rapidly deployed: “with its leading endurance and quick deployment ability, Indago gives civilians and war fighters and eye-in-the-sky in just minutes”.[92] The Indago, which weighs only 5 pounds, can be unfolded in 60 seconds, and airborne within 2.5 minutes. Another unique and distinguishing feature about the Indago is its “whisper quiet, rugged, all-weather capability”. The Indago also features: configurable failsafe behaviors; industry-leading image stabilization; interchangeable payload options; an astonishing 50 minutes of flight time with 200 gram payloads; a line-of-sight range of 2.5 kilometers; a control range that can exceed 3 km; as well as an operating altitude that can range anywhere between 500 and 18,000 feet. In addition to the ones already mentioned, other cited applications for the Indago include firefighting, search and rescue, disaster relief, and first response operations.

Pulse Aerospace

Pulse Aerospace is an American drone manufacturer based in the State of Missouri. Its current portfolio of highly sophisticated unmanned aerial systems (“UAS”) are the product of over a decade of intensive research and development. In addition to offering enhanced flight stability and one hour of flight on a single battery charge, its UAS solutions also integrate the most advanced autopilot with an FAA-compliant unmanned helicopter.[93] Their UAS solutions also offer an impressive gamut of interchangeable payloads, which include anything from infrared sensors, multispectral, drop mechanisms, and high-resolution electro optical camera systems. The payload flexibility of their UAS systems, as well as the long control range and flight time offered by their products, allows their unmanned helicopter drones to be adapted and applied to a wide variety of different commercial, research, and security applications. Examples of suitable applications include surveillance, agriculture, utilities, survey, as well as oil & gas.

AeroVironment
Switzerland
Flyability

Flyability is a Swiss-based drone manufacturing company that focuses on the industrial segment of the consumer drone market. Its small, unique, and innovative drone, Elios, is described as the first and leading collision-resistant drone developed for the unique purpose of inspecting and exploring cluttered indoor and complex confined spaces.[94] Its unique features have been deployed for a wide range of industrial applications: underground mining; nuclear power plant inspection; jet engine test facility inspection; container ship ballast tank inspections; pulp and paper mill tank inspections; enzymes fermenter tank inspections; hydrocarbons and chemical storage tank inspections; coal-fired boiler superheater inspections; and pressure vessel inspection.

Concluding Remarks on the Consumer Drone Industry

Drones are a newly emerging, and rapidly evolving modern technology. Their decreasing price and increasing availability on global consumer markets, whether it be for recreational purposes, or for commercial or industrial applications, are opening up fresh new perspectives on how we view the world. Increasingly, drones are offering new, safe, and efficient ways of performing everyday tasks, whether it be at home or at work. The ability of drones to bring convenient and efficient solutions to our daily lives continues to spur growing consumer demands around the globe. Big and small, new and existing tech companies are racing against one another to pioneer the best and most innovative solutions to the emerging demand for consumer drones. To date, Chinese manufacturers have been highly successful in responding to consumer demands for recreational drones for aerial drone photography or FPV drone racing. Within the commercial and industrial segments of the drone industry, the picture is different. While Chinese drone manufacturers try to adapt their recreational drones to commercial and industrial applications, American companies, and in some circumstances, Canadian, Swiss, and French drone manufacturing companies, are focusing the efforts on bringing the best and most sophisticated UAS solutions to various needs within the industrial and commercial sectors. With established companies like Lockheed Martin, Insitu, or Intel, but also with new companies like Pulse Aerospace or Kespry, American drone manufacturing companies are rapidly establishing (if not already maintaining) a strong presence and dominance within commercial and industrial sectors of the drone industry. With new opportunities and applications come new problems and challenges. For every drone that brings a solution to an everyday problem, a potentially new problem emerges, whether it be in relation to public safety, or to individual privacy.

CHAPTER 5 – A LAYPERON’S GUIDE TO DRONE ANATOMY

Why It Matters

In addition to being used for an expanding list of personal, commercial, and industrial purposes, drones come in a wide range of types, shapes, forms, sizes, materials, and colors. The unique combination of a drone’s characteristics and features is what ultimately determines a drone’s suitability for any particular purpose, whether it be for commercial, industrial, or personal entertainment purposes. Therefore, a general understanding of the various parts and components that compose a drone, as well as how they operate and interact with one another to offer drone pilots their “high”, is essential to better understand a wide range of different matters. From determining what drone to buy and for how much, to determining whether a drone is fit for any particular purpose, to how a particular drone may or may not pose any particular risk to privacy, safety, or security. With all of the above in mind, this section provides a general overview of the various drone design types and parts and components that compose a drone. Our examination of the different types of drones and drone frame configuration will be pre-empted by a discussion on the major drone manufactures that currently dominate the drone market, as well as on the different sizes of drones that are currently available on the consumer markets.

General Categorization

Drones designed for different purposes come not only in different shapes and forms, but also in different sizes. A toy hexacopter drone for kids like a U.S. “teeny” 18 grams U.S. Special Forces surveillance heli drone[95] may both be fall within the “micro” category of drone sizes (also referred to as nano, mini, teeny, or tiny drones). Generally, commercial, industrial, and hobby drones can be categorized within the following five (5) main categories of drone sizes: (1) micro (or mini, nano, tiny, or teeny) drones; (2) small drones; (3) medium drones; (4) big drones; and (5) large drones. Many categorizations erroneously conflate micro and small drones into one single category – this is incorrect, and does not represent the current state of affairs in the drone industry. Furthermore, for the purpose of this work, the “large drones” categories shall refer to larger scale drones. Examples include, for instance: NASA’s Global Hawk drone; Facebook’s Aquila drone; or the CIA’s Predator RQ-1/MQ-1/MQ-9 Reaper UAV. This work only focuses on drone size categories one (1) to four (4). Does the size of a drone matter?

Does Drone Size Matter?

Drone size matters inasmuch as they can often be associated with a drone’s purpose, flight characteristics, and drone camera features. Drone size is also important in that each size comes with its own safety, privacy, or security risks issues. For instance, whereas micro quadcopter drones equipped with tiny HD cameras may pose more of a concern for privacy, medium to big drones capable of carrying heavier payloads may understandably pose more of a concern for safety and security. A consumer looking to buy a drone for the purpose of participating in a local chapter drone race will certainly find some FPV racing drones (and races) in the micro drone category;[96] will most likely find the fastest FPV racing drones in the “small” category of drones; and will most likely not find any fast FPV racing drones in the “medium” drone category of drones. The reason why the fastest drones are found in the small category of drone sizes is due in part because of their lighter weight, but also because they provide just enough space to affix high-performance firmware that significantly enhance drone speed, responsiveness, and manoeuvrability. A consumer looking for a drone with professional, superior quality aerial drone photography and filming capabilities will most likely find the best and most suitable drones in the medium to big size categories of drones. Invariably, larger drones are more powerful, offer greater flight stability for capturing steady shots, offer more camera mounting options, and are capable of lifting heavier, better quality photography and filming equipment. Within the context of industrial drones, size also becomes a matter of purpose and functionality. Thus, for instance, Elios, a small Swiss-made drone,[97] best fulfilled its purpose of “inspecting and exploring indoor and confined spaces” by adopting a small drone size. Conversely, the eBee, another Swiss-made drone, is a drone that falls within the medium to big category of drone size, and its purpose is to “capture high-resolution aerial photos that [can be transformed] into accurate orthomosaics and 3D models”.

MAIN DRONE BODY FRAME MATERIALS

DRONES BY DESIGN: DRONE TYPES & FRAME CONFIGURATION

General Drone Categorization

Drones that are emerging on consumer markets, whether those consumers be individuals or businesses, generally fall under five different types of drones, all of which refer to the number of motors or engines and propellers arms of a drone. The various types of drones that presently exist are, and in which we are interested in are the following: (1) tricopters drones; (2) quadcopter drones; (3) hexacopter drones; (4) and octocopter drones. For the purpose of this work, all drones that do not fall within the scope of these four categories will be classified as drones falling in a fifth category of drones, which we will label as “(5) other types”. These drones, which includes fix-wing aircrafts, will not be discussed within the scope of this work.

Tricopters

Advantage(s)

Tricopters drones incorporate no more or less than three motors into their propulsion system and design. Having only three drone propeller arms, motors, propellers, and electronic speed controllers naturally mean less parts, components, and materials, and therefore, a less expensive drone design. It also means less weight to lift, less motors to consumer energy, and therefore, longer battery life and drone flight time. Depending on the length of each propeller arms, the 120° space between the rear propeller and each of the front right and left propellers potentially means increased 360° camera visibility around the drone. For this same reason, tricopters also have the potential to offer camera mounting options that go beyond standard frontal camera mounts. Tricopters are associated with drone applications that tend to be aligned with personal hobby drones.

Disadvantage(s)

Conversely, as tricopters are not the norm in the drone manufacturing industry, parts and components can be more difficult to find, making tricopters potentially more difficult to maintain and repair. Having only three motors in comparison to four, six, or eight motors, also means more strain on each one of the three motors, and by the same token, a greater risk for overexerting any one of a tricopters motors. With only three drone motors, tricopters generally have a reduced ability to lift payloads in excess of their own centre body weight. The most common payloads being aerial drone camera equipment, this potentially makes tricopters are poor candidate for a variety of different commercial and industrial drone applications.

Quadcopters

Advantage(s)

Whether it be in a consumer hobby context, or in the context of commercial or industrial drones, quadcopters are the norm in the drone manufacturing industry. This means that drone parts and components are more readily available on the markets, making them easier to maintain, repair, customize, and modify. Quadcopters integrate four (4) motors, propellers, propeller arms, and electronic speed controllers (ESCs) into their design. The four (4) propeller concept of the quadcopter offers a balanced, well distributed flight, and places less exertion on each one of the four motors. Four motors provide more power and potential for higher speeds than tricopters. Therefore, although quadcopters may have a shorter battery life, their speed may allow them to reach greater distances than a tricopter drone with extended battery life. The redundancy offered by four (4) drone motors also makes it less likely that a quadcopter drone will unexpectedly fall from the sky in case of an engine failure. Four independent motors also mean a greater ability to adjust in unstable or windy flight conditions, as well as an enhanced ability to carry heavier payloads, such as professional photography and filming camera equipment. Due to this fact alone, the range of creative applications towards which quadcopter drones may be deployed is significantly increased. From buoy-carrying search and rescue quadcopter drones, to fish-net deploying quadcopter drones, to mail-carrying delivery quadcopter drones, to commercial TV-grade photography and filming camera equipment carrying quadcopter drones, it is unlikely that any other design will displace the quadcopter design from being an industry standard.

Disadvantage(s)

Quadcopters more expensive than tricopters. They are heavier, and their four-engine design consumes more energy, two factors which contribute towards reducing battery life and action time. Thus, for instance, even if a quadcopter may be carrying superior aerial photography and filming equipment, and even if it features a long control range, limited battery life can also mean limited time and distance to capture the desired aerial footage. To ensure a well-distributed and balanced flying experience, quadcopters drones must coordinate two clockwise spinning motors rotors with two counter-clockwise spinning motor rotors, making the flight dynamics of a quadcopter more complex.

Hexacopters

Advantage(s)

Hexacopter drones adopt a six-engine, propeller, propeller arm, and electronic speed controller design. Their use and application are generally less varied than quadcopter drones. The redundancy offered by six drone motors and propeller arms provides for extra safety, and further reduces the risk of a hexacopter falling from the sky in the event of an engine failure. Another notable advantage of a six-propeller arm drone design is the ability to transform itself into a four-engine quadcopter design, with all of the advantages and disadvantages this entails. Indeed, some drone manufacturers have designed hexacopters with two retracting propeller arms. This concept is integrated into the design of Walkera’s innovative QR X900 hexacopter. Users are given the option of deploying a six-engine and propeller arm hexacopter with reduced battery life and enhanced payload capacity, or a four-engine and propeller arm quadcopter with increased flight time and reduced payload capacity.

Disadvantage(s)

Hexacopters are not designed for speed. Although their heightened ability to carry heavier payloads makes them ideal for a range of commercial and industrial purposes, the use of six motors also entails greater energy consumption, and therefore, the potential for reduced battery life, and by the same token, shorter flying distances. Leaving aside toy hobby drones, hexacopters are invariably more expensive, larger, heavier, less portable, and even with a foldable design, are less suitable for traveling purposes.

Octocopters

Advantage(s)

Like tricopters, octocopters are less common than quadcopters and hexacopters. Their design offers the greatest potential for payload carrying capacity. Like hexacopters, octocopters have the potential of being transformed, through a transformable design that integrates removable propeller arms, into either a hexacopter or quadcopter. A drone design that incorporates eight motors, propellers, propeller arms, and electronic speed controllers not only provides maximum redundancy and therefore greater flight safety, but also greatly enhances ability to hold a highly steady hovering flight position. Combined, these features make octocopters particularly suitable for applications that involve heavy payloads, without a requirement for high speeds or distance. Capturing commercial TV grade or professional cinematographic aerial footage, delivering heavier mail objects, or carrying and delivering chemical spray agents for agricultural purposes are but a few examples of drone applications that are particularly well suited for octocopters.

Disadvantage(s)

The disadvantages of octocopters are relative to the above-mentioned types of drone designs. Octocopters are the always likely to be the heaviest type of drone. Leaving aside consumer hobby toy drones, the extra drone motors, propellers, and propeller arms entails a more expensive drone. Octocopters also require and consume more energy for their operation. They are also larger, heavier, less portable, and therefore, less suitable for transportation or traveling purposes.

Drone Frame Configurations

This next section delves deeper into each drone design, and offers an overview of the various, and most common types of quadcopter drone design configurations. As with the different types of drones, different types of quadcopter drone configurations have different advantages and disadvantages, most notably in the context of First-Person-View (FPV) drone racing. A review of each type of quadcopter drone configuration is in order before comparing and contrasting the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Tricopter Drone Configurations

Y-Shaped and Inverted Y-Shaped Tricopter Drone Configuration

In the “Y” Shaped tricopter drone configuration, the front propeller arms have an interior angle in the approximate range of 120° relative to the centre body of the tricopter drone, with the rear propeller arm shooting straight out from the tail end of the tricopter drone. In the Inverted “Y” Shaped tricopter drone configuration, the front propellers arms assume the same position at the tail of the tricopter drone, and the rear propeller arm assumes the same position at the nose of the tricopter drone.

Quadcopter Drone Configurations

True and Hybrid X-Shaped Quadcopter Drone Configurations

With the X-shaped quadcopter drone configuration, the drone’s propeller arms resemble an “X” shape when viewed from above (or below). In a true X-shaped quadcopter drone configuration, the interior angles of the front propeller arms have an approximate angle of 120°, and an approximate exterior angle of 45°. In a True X-shaped quadcopter drone configuration, the interior angle of the rear propeller arms is also in the approximate range of 120°, and their outer angles are in the approximate range of 45°. In a Hybrid “X” Shaped quadcopter drone configuration, the rear propeller arms assume a 90° angle relative to the quadcopter drone’s centre body.

+ Shape Quadcopter Drone Configuration

In the “+” Shape quadcopter drone configuration, the interior angle of each one of the four propeller arms is 90° angle. When viewed from above or below, the quadcopter drone assumes the shape of a +. The “+” Shape quadcopter drone configuration is often assumed when the centre body of the quadcopter drone is small and compact, leaving no space to distance the front propeller arms from the rear propeller arms. Unlike the “X” shaped quadcopter drone configuration, the only front propeller arm forms the nose of the drone, and the only rear propeller arm forms the nose of the drone. The propeller arms on the left and right side of the quadcopter drone assume a position similar to the wings of an airplane.

True and Hybrid H-Shaped Quadcopter Drone Configurations

As the name once more indicates, in a True H-Shaped quadcopter drone configuration, the shape formed by the propeller arms relative to the drone’s centre body resemble an “H”. That is to say, the interior angles of both front and rear propellers arms are 90°. In a Hybrid “H” quadcopter drone configuration, the interior angle of the rear propeller arms will be greater or lesser than 90° relative to the quadcopter drone’s centre body.

(Note: for the purpose of this work, where reference is only made to “H” or “X” frame, without the words “True” or “Hybrid”, then reference is being made to both “True” and “Hybrid”).

Hexacopter Drone Configurations

I and X Shaped Hexacopter Drone Configurations

In the I shaped hexacopter drone configuration, one propeller arm assumes the position of the drone’s nose, and another propeller arm assumes the position of the drone’s tail, such that the front and rear propeller arms form an “I” shape. Two propeller arms on each side of the hexacopter drone form an “X” shape. That is to say, the interior angle of each side propeller arms is in the approximate range of 120°. Worded differently, the “I” shaped hexacopter drone configuration assumes the front and rear of the “+” shape drone configuration, and an “X” shape on the right and left sides. In the “X” shaped hexacopter drone configuration, the only difference is that the drone assumes the right and left sides of a “+” shaped drone configuration. That is to say, one propeller arm on each side of the drone protrude at a 90° angle relative to the drone’s centre body, similar to the wings on a plane. The other four propeller arms maintain an “X” shaped drone configuration.

Octocopter Drone Configurations

+ and X Shaped Octocopter Drone Configurations

The “+” octocopter drone frame configuration is essentially two “+” quadcopter drone configurations superimposed one over another. A front and rear propeller arm on the octocopter form the shape of an “I” (the vertical line of the “+”), and extend at the nose and tail of the drone respectively. In the “X” shaped octocopter drone frame configuration, sometimes also referred to as a “V” shape drone configuration because of the smaller angle between each propeller arm, the octocopter essentially resembles the shape of two “X” quadcopter drones superimposed one over the other. Or, if one prefers to allude to the “V” shape analogy, one can also picture four (4) “V” shapes: one that points to the north, the second points to the east, the third points to the south, and the fourth points to the west. Unlike the “+” octocopter drone frame configuration, no propeller arms extend directly from the nose or tail of the octocopter.

Drone Frame Analysis

Every Drone’s Core Functionality: Flight and Camera Capabilities

In addition to the advantages and disadvantages already mentioned above in relation to each one of the different types of drone frame configurations (tricopter, quadcopter, hexacopter, octocopter), various advantages and disadvantages also attach to the various types of drone frame configurations. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of both drone frame types as well as drone frame configuration types can be useful in better understanding how well a specific drone will respond to your needs as a drone consumer. The core of any commercial, hobby, and industrial drone, regardless of a drone’s purpose (FPV racing or nuclear power plant inspection) can be boiled down to two core functionalities: (1) its flight capabilities; and (2) its aerial photography and filming capabilities. Naturally, these two core purposes are only relevant to aerial drones, as defined in outset of this work.

From these two core functions of a drone, there flows a number of other important considerations when assessing a drone for any particularly purpose. For instance, if you’re interested in a drone for the purpose of getting into FPV drone racing, your focus will likely be on the first of two core functions, namely, flight capabilities. You will want to assess a drone’s flight capabilities in terms of: (a) its top speed; (b) its degree of responsiveness to pilot commands; (c) its acceleration; (d) its deceleration; (e) its breaking speed; (f) its ability to take sharp turns and manoeuvres; and so on and so forth. Conversely, if you’re looking to buy a commercial drone for, say, advertising commercial real estate properties for sale, you’re focus will likely be more on the second core functionality of a drone that is, its aerial photography and filming capabilities. You’ll naturally want to ensure that the drone camera produces only the best, sharpest, and most professional looking photos and videos. If you’re looking to buy a fleet of drones to carry out deliveries, you’ll once more shift your attention to a drone’s flight capabilities, specifically, its ability to fly smoothly and swiftly through the air while carrying heavier payloads.

Conducting Your Own Analysis Using a Drone’s Two Core Functionalities

With all of the above in mind, when assessing the advantages and disadvantages of a particular drone type (tricopter, quadcopter, hexacopter, octocopter), a particular drone purpose (racing, commercial real estate property advertising, commercial drone deliveries) or drone frame (“X” shaped, “H” shaped, “+” shaped, etc.), it is helpful to conduct an analysis by reference to a drone’s two core functionalities that is, its flight capabilities, and aerial photography and filming capabilities. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with the abovementioned drone frame configurations?

Analyzing Drone Frame Configurations: Advantages and Disadvantages

“+” and “I” Shape Drone Frame Configurations: Tricopters, Hexacopter, and Octocopters

If your focus is on a drone’s aerial photography and filming capabilities, whether it be a tricopter, quadcopter, hexacopter, or octocopter, the main disadvantage of a “+” or “I” drone frame configuration is that it will likely limit your aerial photography and filming capabilities, as well as your camera mounting options. Indeed, both types of drone frame configurations have at least one propeller arm that extends from the nose of the drone. This feature alone would obstruct the frontal field of view of any drone camera mounted on the back of a drone, as opposed to its belly. Even with larger hexacopters and octocopters that have cameras mounted to its belly, one of their main advantages is their ability to carry heavier payloads. Both “I” and “+” drone frame configurations, however, would make the drone’s back ineffective for the purpose of carrying a second camera. Without the ability to project an unobstructed view of from the front of a drone’s flight pattern, navigating a drone by reference to its head may become a perplexing task. Not surprisingly, “+” and “I” drone frame configurations are a rare occurrence in the drone industry.

“H” and “X” Shaped Drone Frame Configurations: Quadcopters

Advantages and disadvantages of “H” and “X” drone frame configurations are usually, and more relevantly, discussed within the context of quadcopter racing drones. A first difference often pointed out by quadcopter racing drones is the reduced aerodynamic frontal area of the “X” configured quadcopter drone frame. Worded differently, with an “H” shaped quadcopter drone frame configuration, the face of both front propeller arms is fully and directly exposed to the incoming air flow, creating more drag than the “X” quadcopter drone frame configuration, whose two front propeller arms receive the incoming airflow in a scissor like shape. Note that this perceived disadvantage about “H” shaped drone frame configurations is cured with the hybrid “H” drone frame configuration, where the rear propeller arms maintain and “H” shape (90° angle relative to the centre drone body), but where the front propeller arms are tilted either towards the front or rear.

A perceived disadvantage of the True “X” quadcopter drone frame configuration is that the centre body of the drone that is, the intersecting point of all four propeller arms, offers much less space the “H” shaped quadcopter drone frame configuration. This potentially mean less space on which to affix high-performance firmware, as well as less camera mounting options. For that reason, True “X” quadcopter drone configurations are more commonly adopted with smaller, not to say micro or, nano sized drones.

Another advantage of the “H” shaped quadcopter drone configuration, this time relating to camera features, is the overall better first-person-view visibility it offers to its drone pilot. In contrast to the “X” shaped quadcopter drone frame configuration, where the end of the propeller arms is close to the centre of the drone’s body, the end of the propeller arms of an “H” quadcopter drone frame configuration reach far out and away from the drone’s nose. This generally offers better camera mounting options (including directly in the nose of the drone for a highly dynamic first-person-view from the drone’s eye). Furthermore, because the propeller arms reach far out and away from the drone’s centre body, the camera view is also more likely not to be obstructed by the view of the drone’s spinning propellers.

In short, if you’re looking for greater camera mounting options as well as better visibility, the “H” quadcopter drone frame is likely to the best option. Conversely, if your priority is on attaining the highest possible speed, or are looking for a drone that offers a more dynamic and acrobatic flight style offering sharp turns and responsive manoeuverability, the “X” shaped quadcopter drone frame configuration may be your best bet. As of the date of this writing, the most advanced FPV racing drones have evolved from a Hybrid “H” frame (where the front propeller arms are angled at 90° from the drone’s main body, and the rear propellers arms are angled towards that back at an approximate angle of 120°), to a True “X” drone propeller arm configuration, relative to an “H” drone centre body. While this type of FPV quadcopter drone configuration offers the highest potential for speed, the spinning propellers tend to be visible from the drone camera’s first-person field of view.

DRONE PROPULSION SYSTEMS: MOTORS, PROPS & ELECTRONIC SPEED CONTROLLERS

Drone Motors: Brushless, Brushed & Coreless

TERMINOLOGY

kynex-triangles.pngA

Accelerometers: device that compensates for any unwanted acceleration or movement.

Aerial Drone Photography: the professional or amateur activity of capturing still images or videos from the air with the help of a drone’s video/camera.

AGL: Altitude Above Ground Level

Altitude Hold Mode: the drone will hold a steady altitude; this feature frees the pilot from navigational control of the drone, allowing him/her to instead focus on aerial drone photography.

Angular Velocity Sensors: See “gyroscope”

ARF: Almost-Ready-to-Fly drones (few installations required)

Auto Landing: a smart/intelligent autonomous drone flight feature whereby the drone lands itself autonomously.

Autonomous Flight Modes: refers to a variety of drone flight modes whereby the drone assumes complete autonomous self-control over its movements. Examples for autonomous flight modes include: altitude hold mode; auto-return home; auto-landing; auto-take off. Autonomous Flight modes free the drone pilot from navigational control of the drone, allowing him/her to instead focus on aerial drone photography.

Auto Return Home:

Autopilot: a feature whereby the drone will assume autonomous, self-control over its flight movements; this feature free the drone pilot from navigational control of the drone, allowing him/her to instead focus on aerial drone photography or filming.

Axis: refers to a plane of flight; 4-axis control is the standard in hobby drones, with 6-axis being the preferred exception.

kynex-triangles.png B

Barometric Pressure Sensor: drone device used to calculate drone altitude.

Bind: the action of connecting a drone remote controller (transmitter) to a drone’s receiver.

BNF: Bind-and-Fly drones (connect drone w/ remote control).

Brushed Motor:

Brushless Motor: drone motors composed of permanent stationary magnets (stator) that rotate around a fixed armature (rotor) composed of electromagnets.

BVLOS: Beyond Visual Line of Sight.

kynex-triangles.png C

Controller: device used by a drone pilot to drone all features and aspect of the drone, including it camera. (See also “Transmitter”)

Coreless Motor:

kynex-triangles.png D

Drone: unmanned vehicle or aircraft controlled remotely and capable of autonomous flight.

kynex-triangles.png E

ESC: Electronic Speed Controller (regulates speed and rotation of motors)

kynex-triangles.png F

Fail Safe Modes: advanced drone flight modes whereby a drone assumes autonomous control of itself, thereby overriding commands and control issued by the drone pilot, the aim of which is to avoid flight and/or system failures while in flight. Two common examples are when the drone lands itself, or flies itself home autonomously when battery levels are too low to continue its flying operations. The other example is when the drone retracts its flight path to avoid flying in a zone where it would have limited or no signal from the drone pilot.

Firmware: software loaded onto a drone’s microprocessor.

First Person View (FPV): a live/real-time video camera feed that allows a drone pilot to control a drone as if he/she was sitting inside the drone.

Flight Controller: “nerve center” of a drone (controls LED lights, GPS, speed, movements, etc.)

Follow-Me Mode: a smart/intelligent and autonomous flight mode whereby a drone will lock onto a given subject, and follow the subject autonomously. This mode frees the drone pilot from navigational control, allowing her/him to focus his/her attention on capturing aerial drone footage.

FPV: Acronym for “First Person View”

kynex-triangles.png G

Geofencing: the intelligent and autonomous use of GPS by a drone to create virtual geographic boundaries, enabling the drone’s flight systems to adopt a certain response relative to relative to any given virtual geographic boundary. (See Fail Safe Modes)

Gesture Control: a smart/intelligent drone flight feature that allows the drone pilot to control the drone’s flight movements using arm and hand gestures.

Gimbal: pivoted support that allows camera rotation about single axis

GLONASS: Globalnaya Navigazionnaya Sputknikovaya Sistema (Russian version of GPS)

GoPro: brand name of a high-end, high-quality, high-definition (HD) action camera that can be used and adapted to a wide range of purposes. GoPro cameras are commonly used for aerial drone photography. Some GoPro cameras are waterproof. They can be used in conjunction with a variety of activities that combine aerial photography and water, such as surfing, windsurfing, sailing, and more.

GPS: Global Positioning System (calculates precise geographic location of drone)

Gyroscope (Gyro): an instrument on board a drone that measures the rate of rotation of a UAV, and helps maintain a drone’s flight orientation, as well as a balanced flight relative to a drone’s yaw, pitch, and roll.

kynex-triangles.png H

H-Shaped Drone Frame: refers to a quadcopter drone frame configuration whereby the four propeller arms are configured as an “H” shaped relative to the drone’s center body. In other words, viewed from above or below, the drone assumes an “H” type of shape.

HD: High Definition

Headless Mode: a flight mode whereby a drone pilot can easily fly a drone without reference to a drone’s front/nose or back/rear. Headless mode gets rid of a drone pilot’s dilemma of having to determine which side of a drone is its front and/or rear.

Hexacopter: six motor drones

kynex-triangles.png I

IMU: International Measurement Unit is an advanced drone flight system that helps with a drone’s orientation and stabilization by combining a drone’s accelerometer and gyroscope.

Inertial Navigation System: a means of determine a drone’s position, based on its last recorded GPS position, when GPS positioning becomes temporarily unavailable.

IOC: acronym for “intelligent orientation control”, a system that determines a drone’s forward direction without reference to a drone’s “nose”.

kynex-triangles.png K

KV: RPM constant of a drone motor – the number of revolutions per minute that a drone motor will turn when 1V (one volt) is applied with no load attached to the motor.

kynex-triangles.png L

Line of Sight (LOS): refers to a pilot’s ability to view and pilot a drone with her/his naked eye. Maintaining a line of sight on a drone usually relates directly to a drone’s control range, in that the further the control range, the more likely a drone pilot is likely to his/her line of sight on his/her drone. Line of sight can also be opposed to First Person View drone flight navigation, where the pilot controls his/her drone using live/real-time images being fed to her/him through 3D/FPV goggles that are connected to a drone’s camera.

Li-Po: refers to a Lithium Polymer battery, a type of battery commonly found in industrial and hobby drones due to their lighter weight and maximum energy capacity and power it offers.

kynex-triangles.png M

Mod: short for “modification”, another term for “customization. Avid drone enthusiasts enjoy modifying, or customizing their drones to enhance their appearance and performance.

Multicopter: a generic term that encompasses tricopters, quadcopter, hexacopters, and octocopters.

Multirotor: generic term for a device that has more than one motor. This encompasses tricopters, quadcopters, hexacopters, and octocopters.

kynex-triangles.png N

No Fly Zone: in reference to consumer hobby drones, airspace that prohibits the presence of drones. No Fly Zones are most commonly designated near or around airports, where drones could interfere or otherwise obstruct airplanes or other types of aircrafts.

kynex-triangles.png O

Octocopter: eight motor drones

Orbit Mode:

OSD: “On Screen Display”, refers to the ability to see data, such as flight telemetry (altitude, GPS position, et.c)

kynex-triangles.png P

Panning: short for panorama, panning refers to the horizontal scrolling of an image that is wider than the display. Panning a camera is similar to turning one’s head from left to right/right to left. The expansive view that exceeds the gaze forces the viewer to turn their head left to right/right to left in order to view the full horizontal image.

Payload: usually refers to an object carried by a drone in addition to its own weight. The most common form of payload includes a camera with or without camera. Other less common forms of drone payloads may include, for instance, a mail delivery package, fishing net, water search and rescue device, agricultural spray, and the likes.

Pitch: Up and down movement of a drone along a vertical axis from the front to the back of a drone

Power Distribution Board (PDB): a system that moderates power distribution between each of the drones motor so as to ensure a stable and steady flight.

Props: Propellers

Propulsion System: drone motor, propellers, and electronic speed controllers

kynex-triangles.png Q

Quadcopter: four motor drones

kynex-triangles.png R

Radio Controller (RC or R/C): wireless device used to issue flight commands and control to a drone.

Rate Sensors: see “gyroscope”

RC: Remote control/Radio control

Roll: Rotation of the drone from front to back, i.e. forward, backward, left and right movements along a horizontal axis.

RTF: Ready-to-fly drones (no installations required)

kynex-triangles.png S

Sense and Avoid: the ability of a drone to navigate itself clear from obstacles, including from other aircrafts, using obstacle avoidance and infrared sensors.

Servomotor (servomechanism): also referred to as “servo”, a servomotor is used to accomplish a variety of different features, such a camera panning (short for panorama, a camera movement that is similar to turning one’s head from left to right, and right to left.

Spoofing attach: in the context of network security as it relates to drones, a spoofing attack would refer to a situation in which one person or program successfully impersonates another by falsifying drone data, thereby obtaining an illicit advantage.

kynex-triangles.png T

Throttle: element of control over a drone’s speed.

Transmitter: device used by a drone pilot to control all of the drone’s flight movements, including its video/camera.

Trip copter: three motor drones

TX: short term for referring to a drone’s transmitter or, remote controller.

kynex-triangles.png U

UAV: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

UHD: Ultra-High Definition

Ultrasonic sensor: a type of sensor that uses ultra sound wavelength in order to communicate with a transmitter. These sensors are commonly used to calculate the distance to ground by projecting sound waves to the ground, then back to the drone. Ultrasonic sensors are only effective in close proximity of the objects or surface they seek to measure.

kynex-triangles.png V

Voice Control: a unique smart/intelligent drone flight feature that allows a drone pilot to command and control her/his drone using voice commands.

kynex-triangles.png W

Waypoint: a set of pre-planned and pre-programmed geographic coordinates that shape or create a drone's pre-planned flight path.

kynex-triangles.png X

X-Shaped Drone Frame: refers to a quadcopter drone frame configuration whereby the drone’s four propeller arms are configured as an “X” relative to the main center body of the drone. In other words, viewed from above or below, the drone assumes an “X” type of shape.

kynex-triangles.png Y

Yaw: if you were looking at the drone from underneath, the Yaw of a drone refers to the clockwise or counter-clockwise movement of a drone.


[1]Natalie Robehmed, ‘Five Things ‘Back to the Future Part II’ Got Right about 2015 Technology’ (Oct. 21, 2015) Forbes, available online at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/natalierobehmed/2015/10/21/five-things-back-to-the-future-part-ii-got-right/#3120789220d2, last viewed on 10/18/2017.

[2]For instance, in “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, drones called Sentinels hunt down and kill mutants. In “Transformers: Age of Extinction”, miniature drones are featured as villains. In “RoboCop”, drones are also depicted as machines used primarily by the military, and for military purposes. Even in the action comedy movie, “The Interview”, a drone is used once more for militaristic purposes, as it delivers a poison strip to poison to kill Kim Jong-Un. The movie “Good Kill” also revolves around a military context, and ethics surrounding the use of drones to further military and other security operations. In the movie “The Giver”, drones are depicted as surveillance machines employment by government against its citizens. In the movie “Captain America: the Winter Soldier”, drones are once more depicted as militaristic, autonomous killing machines.

[3]Drones were depicted as militaristic killing machines in the following titles:

[4]Drones and warfare were the object of the following titles:

[5]“Batteries Not Included” (1987)

[6] Mike Sorrentino, CNET, “‘Spider-Man Homecoming’ Teaser Reveals Little Drone Bug” (March 27, 2017) available online at: https://www.cnet.com/news/spider-man-homecoming-teaser-reveals-little-drone-bug/, last viewed on 10/18/2017.

[7] Lux Capital, available online at: “http://www.luxcapital.com/companies/drone-racing-league/, last viewed on October 22, 2017.

[8]Hannah Roberts, “How an entrepreneur turned amateur drone racing into a pro sporting league” (February 11, 2017) available online at: http://uk.businessinsider.com/drone-racing-league-founder-nick-horbaczewski-2017-2, last viewed on October 22, 2017.

[9]Fitz Tepper, “Drone Racing League Raises a $20M Series B Ahead of its 2nd Season”, available online at: https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/12/drone-racing-league-raises-a-20m-series-b-ahead-of-its-2nd-season/, last viewed on October 22, 2017.

[10]The Drone Racing League, “Video Game”, available online at: https://thedroneracingleague.com/videogame/simulator-controllers/, last viewed on October 22, 2017.

[11]Business Insider, Tech Insider, Hannah Roberts, “How An Entrepreneur Turned Amateur Drone Racing Into a Pro Sport League”, available online at: http://www.businessinsider.com/drone-racing-league-founder-nick-horbaczewski-2017-2, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[12]The Drone Racing League, “The All New Racer3”, available online at: https://thedroneracingleague.com/racer3/, last viewed on October 22, 2017.

[13]The Drone Racing League, “The All New Racer3”, available online at: https://thedroneracingleague.com/racer3/, last viewed on October 22, 2017.

[14]The Drone Racing League, “The All New Racer3”, available online at: https://thedroneracingleague.com/racer3/, last viewed on October 22, 2017.

[15]The Drone Racing League, “The All New Racer3”, available online at: https://thedroneracingleague.com/racer3/, last viewed on October 22, 2017.

[16]The Drone Racing League, “The DRL RacerX”, available online at: https://thedroneracingleague.com/racerx/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[17]The Drone Racing League, “The DRL RacerX”, available online at: https://thedroneracingleague.com/racerx/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[18]International Drone Racing Association, “About the IDRA”, available online: http://www.idra.co/about-idra/, last viewed on October 22, 2017.

[19]XBlades Racing describes itself at the world’s leading drone racing team. The team describes itself as being “driven by the pursuit of Technological and Performance Excellent”, and as bringing together the “world’s greatest Freestyle and Racing Talent and match it with cutting edge Racing Drone Technology”. XBlades Racing, “Who Are We”, available online at: https://www.xbladesracing.com/, last viewed on October 23, 217.

[20]See, for instance, the “IDRA’s Safety Manual”, in which it states: “IDRA has a vested interest in ensuring the safe operation of all aerial based systems under the team’s banner. The joy and excitement of a brand new era of pilotage drives our commitment to ensure IDRA constituents know and understand the procedures that will maximize safety of flight. To meet this goal, pilots must focus on the adherence to federally mandated guidelines and the development of new drone technologies. Doing so will ensure not only protection of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) but all national airspace (NAS) users. This manual offers key instruction to help pilots fly safely. Being responsible is up to you.” International Drone Racing Association,“IDRA’s Safety Manual – Measures to Keep Our Pilots Flying”, available online at: http://www.idra.co/wp-content/uploads/IDRA-Safety-Manual.pdf, last visited on October 22, 2017.

[21] MultiGP, available online at: https://www.multigp.com/, last viewed on October 22, 2017.

[22]MultiGP Drone Racing, “About MultiGP”, available online: https://www.multigp.com/about-multigp/, last viewed on October 22, 2017.

[23]MultiGP Drone Racing, “About MultiGP”, available online: https://www.multigp.com/about-multigp/, last viewed on October 22, 2017.

[24] MultiGP, “Class Specifications”, available online at: https://www.multigp.com/class-specifications/, last visited on October 23, 2017.

[25]MultiGP Drone Racing, “Class Specifications”, available online: https://www.multigp.com/class-specifications/, last viewed on October 22, 2017.

[26] Jane Gerster, ‘Drone Racing Creates Buzz” (April 30, 2017), available online at: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/drone-racing-creates-buzz-420856163.html, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[27]FPV Canada, available online at: http://www.fpvcan.com/, last viewed on October 13, 2017.

[28]DR1 Racing, available online at: https://www.dr1racing.tv/championsseries, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[29]Sam Cooke, “The Future of IDRA, An Interview With Justin Haggerty”, available online at: http://thirdlawsports.com/2016/07/13/future-idra-interview-justin-haggerty/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[30]David Stock, “Drone World Championships: Drone Racing In The Land Of Jurassic Park”, available online at: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/10/drone-world-racing-championships-hawaii-photos/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[31]John Gaudiosi, “Top Drone Pilots From Around The World Will Battle In Dubai”, available online at: http://fortune.com/2016/03/03/world-drone-prix-offers-1-million-prize-money/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[32] John Gaudiosi, “World Drone Prix Takes Drone Racing To The Next Level”, available online at: http://www.alistdaily.com/strategy/world-drone-prix-organizer-dicusses-growth-drone-racing/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[33] Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), “Assure UAS Ground Collision Severity Evaluation Final Report”, available online at: http://www.assureuas.org/projects/deliverables/sUASGroundCollisionReport.php, last viewed on October 25, 2017.

[34] Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), “Assure UAS Ground Collision Severity Evaluation Final Report”, available online at: http://www.assureuas.org/projects/deliverables/sUASGroundCollisionReport.php, last viewed on October 25, 2017.

[35] Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), “Assure UAS Ground Collision Severity Evaluation Final Report”, available online at: http://www.assureuas.org/projects/deliverables/sUASGroundCollisionReport.php, last viewed on October 25, 2017.

[36] Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), “Assure UAS Ground Collision Severity Evaluation Final Report”, available online at: http://www.assureuas.org/projects/deliverables/sUASGroundCollisionReport.php, last viewed on October 25, 2017.

[37] Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), “Assure UAS Ground Collision Severity Evaluation Final Report”, available online at: http://www.assureuas.org/projects/deliverables/sUASGroundCollisionReport.php, last viewed on October 25, 2017.

[38] Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), “Assure UAS Ground Collision Severity Evaluation Final Report”, available online at: http://www.assureuas.org/projects/deliverables/sUASGroundCollisionReport.php, last viewed on October 25, 2017.

[39]See, for instance, the Skynex Global Drones store, a store that focuses on the sale of consumer drones (commercial, industrial, and personal hobby drones), which categorizes its drones in four different sizes. See, generally, Skynex Global Drones, available online at: https://skynexglobaldrones.com, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[40]Jenny Rodrigues, “Caught on Camera: Rogue Drone Trips Up Cyclist During California Race”, available online at: https://globalnews.ca/news/3438086/rogue-drone-flips-cyclist-during-california-race/, last viewed on October. 23, 2017.

[41] Steve Miletich, “Pilot of drone that struck woman at Pride Parade gets 30 days in jail”, available online at: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/pilot-of-drone-that-struck-woman-at-pride-parade-sentenced-to-30-days-in-jail/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[42]Caroline Moss, Business Insider, “Woman Nearly Has Her Face Destroyed By A TGI Friday’s Mistletoe Drone”, available online at http://www.businessinsider.com/tgi-fridays-mistletoe-drone-accident-2014-12, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[43]Richard T. Jacky and Tamsin Jacky v. Parrot, S.A. et al., Denver District Court, 2017CVCV31101.

[44]Kiera Blessing, “Wedding Drone Crash Leads To Guests’ Lawsuit”, available online at: http://www.eagletribune.com/news/wedding-drone-crash-leads-to-guests-lawsuit/article_9bdf14d4-c3bd-11e6-87dc-0752f3c938b6.html, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[45]Leah Barkoukis, “FBI Director Warns Terrorist Drones Are “Coming Here Imminently”, Townhall (Sept. 27, 2017), available online at: https://townhall.com/tipsheet/leahbarkoukis/2017/09/27/fbi-director-terrorist-drones-coming-here-imminently-n2387488, last viewed on October 26, 2017.

[46]Leah Barkoukis, “FBI Director Warns Terrorist Drones Are “Coming Here Imminently”, Townhall (Sept. 27, 2017), available online at: https://townhall.com/tipsheet/leahbarkoukis/2017/09/27/fbi-director-terrorist-drones-coming-here-imminently-n2387488, last viewed on October 26, 2017.

[47]Stephan Dinan, The Washington Times, “Terror from Skies as Mexican Cartel Attaches Bomb to Drone”, available online at: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/oct/24/terror-skies-mexican-cartel-attaches-bomb-drone/, last viewed on October 26, 2017.

[48] Dan Goodin, “There’s A New Way To Take Down Drones, And It Doesn’t Involve Shotguns”, Ars Technica (October 26, 2017), available online at: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/10/drone-hijacker-gives-hackers-complete-control-of-aircraft-in-midflight/, last viewed on October 26, 2017.

[49] Dan Goodin, “There’s A New Way To Take Down Drones, And It Doesn’t Involve Shotguns”, Ars Technica (October 26, 2017), available online at: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/10/drone-hijacker-gives-hackers-complete-control-of-aircraft-in-midflight/, last viewed on October 26, 2017.

[50]Michael S. Schmidt, “A Drone, Too Small for Radar to Detect, Rattles the White House”, New York Times (January 26, 2015), available online at: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/us/white-house-drone.html, last viewed on October 26, 2017.

[51]Michael S. Schmidt, “A Drone, Too Small for Radar to Detect, Rattles the White House”, New York Times (January 26, 2015), available online at: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/us/white-house-drone.html, last viewed on October 26, 2017.

[52] Consider, for instance, the new H520 hexacopter drone recently released by Yuneec.

[53] BBC News, “Drone Near-Misses Prompt calls for Plan Strike Research” BBC News, (March 2, 2016), available online at: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35699396, last viewed on October 26, 2017.

[54] Graham Sheldon, “Top 10 Drone Crashes”, available online at: https://www.cinema5d.com/top-ten-drone-crashes/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[55] Graham Sheldon, “Top 10 Drone Crashes”, available online at: https://www.cinema5d.com/top-ten-drone-crashes/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[56] Graham Sheldon, “Top 10 Drone Crashes”, available online at: https://www.cinema5d.com/top-ten-drone-crashes/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[57] Graham Sheldon, “Top 10 Drone Crashes”, available online at: https://www.cinema5d.com/top-ten-drone-crashes/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[58] Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, “Drone Sightings and Close Encounters: an Analysis”, available online at: http://dronecenter.bard.edu/drone-sightings-and-close-encounters/, last viewed on October 27, 2017.

[59] Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, “Drone Sightings and Close Encounters: an Analysis”, available online at: http://dronecenter.bard.edu/drone-sightings-and-close-encounters/, last viewed on October 27, 2017.

[60] Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, “Drone Sightings and Close Encounters: an Analysis”, available online at: http://dronecenter.bard.edu/drone-sightings-and-close-encounters/, last viewed on October 27, 2017.

[61]BBC News, “Drone Near-Misses Prompts Calls for Plane Strike Research”, available online at: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35699396, last viewed on October 26, 2017.

[62] Danielle Furfaro, Larry Celona, and Natalie Musumeci, “Civilian Drone Crashes Into Army Helicopter”, New York Post, available online at: http://nypost.com/2017/09/22/army-helicopter-hit-by-drone/, last viewed on October 26, 2017.

[63] Julia Zorthian, Time – Tech, “This Should Not Have Happened.” A Drone Crashed Into a Canadian Passenger Plan”, available online at: http://time.com/4983677/drone-crash-passenger-plane/, last viewed on October 26, 2017. See also, CNN Wire, “Drone Crashes Into Plane As It Approached Airport in Canada”, available online at: http://ktla.com/2017/10/16/drone-crashes-into-passenger-plane-in-canada/, last viewed on October 26, 2017.

[64] Nick Westoll, “2 Injured After Near “Mid-Air Collision” Involving Toronto Porter Flight, Possible Drone”, Global News, available online at: http://time.com/4983677/drone-crash-passenger-plane/, last viewed on October 26, 2017.

[65] Chris Hughes, Ruth Halkon, “Drone Crashes Into British Airways Passenger Jet As It Comes In To Land At Heathrow Airport”, Mirror (April 18, 2016), available online at: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/drone-crashes-british-airways-passenger-7776727, last viewed on October 26, 2017. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/drone-crashe...

[66]YouTube, “Drone Crash With Airplane”, available online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zrXb_YQQag, last viewed on October 26, 2017.

[67]Even with quality standards in full force and effect, product liability claims are still being launched by consumers. Consider, for instance, a recent case in which a father’s eye came into contact with the unguarded propeller of a Parrot SA’s Rolling Spider. The personal injury caused to the father, a “full thickness corneal laceration”, lead to a product liability claim against Parrot SA. See generally Richard T. Jacky and Tamsin Jacky v. Parrot, S.A. et al., Denver District Court, 2017CVCV31101.

[68]Graham Sheldon, “Top 10 Drone Crashes”, available online at: https://www.cinema5d.com/top-ten-drone-crashes/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[69] Graham Sheldon, “Top 10 Drone Crashes”, available online at: https://www.cinema5d.com/top-ten-drone-crashes/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[70]CBC News, “U.S. Attorney Announces Decision On Charges In White House Drone Incident”, available online at: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/decision-announced-on-charges-in-white-house-drone-incident/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[71]Conner Forrest, “12 Drone Disasters That Showy Why The FAA Hates Drones”, available online at: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/12-drone-disasters-that-show-why-the-faa-hates-drones/, last viewed on October 23, 2017.

[72] Available online at: http://www.eachine.com, last visited on 10/18/2017.

[73] Available online at: http://www.jjrc-tech.com, last visited on 10/18/2017.

[74] Available online at: https://www.wingsland.org, last visited on 10/18/2017.

[75] Available online at: https://www.hubsan.com, last visited on 10/18/2017.

[76] Available online at: http://www.cheersonhobby.com/, last visited on 10/18/2017.

[77] Available online at: http://www.udirc.com/, last visited on 10/18/2017.

[78] Available online at: http://www.symatoys.com/, last visited on 10/18/2017.

[79]Ehang 184 autonomous transportation flying drone, available online at: http://www.ehang.com/ghost2.0.html, last visited on 10/18/2017.

[80] Ehang GhostDrone 2.0, online at: http://www.ehang.com/ghost2.0.html, last visited on 10/18/2017.

[81]Walkera FPV racing drones.

[82]Walkera Aibao drone.

[83]Walkera commercial and industrial drones.

[84] Parrot SA, available online at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parrot_SA, last viewed on 10/18/2017.

[85] https://www.parrot.com/ca/business-solutions#disc...

[86] https://www.parrot.com/ca/business-solutions#parr...

[87] Aerialtronics: https://www.aerialtronics.com/#zenith

[88] https://www.aerialtronics.com/products/pensar#pri...

[89] available online at: https://www.cyphyworks.com/products/parc/, last viewed on 10/17/2018.

[90] Available online at: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/drones/falcon-8.html, last viewed on 10/18/2017.

[91] https://software.intel.com/en-us/aero

[92] http://www.lockheedmartin.ca/us/products/procerus...

[93] Available online at: http://www.pulseaero.com/, last viewed on 10/18/2017.

[94]Available online at: http://www.flyability.com/, last viewed on 10/18/2017.

[95]U.S. Special Forces “Teeny” surveillance drone.

[96] Footnote on Micro Drone Racing League.

[97]Flyability, Elios, Swiss-made drone.