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The Military United States Technology

When Drones Fall From the Sky 97

schwit1 sends this report on the perils of imperfect drone technology: "More than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001, a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic, according to a year-long Washington Post investigation. Since the outbreak of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, military drones have malfunctioned in myriad ways, plummeting from the sky because of mechanical breakdowns, human error, bad weather and other reasons, according to more than 50,000 pages of accident investigation reports and other records obtained by The Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

Commercial drone flights are set to become a widespread reality in the United States, starting next year, under a 2012 law passed by Congress. Drone flights by law enforcement agencies and the military, which already occur on a limited basis, are projected to surge. The documents obtained by The Post detail scores of previously unreported crashes involving remotely controlled aircraft, challenging the federal government’s assurances that drones will be able to fly safely over populated areas and in the same airspace as passenger planes."
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When Drones Fall From the Sky

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  • Papers please ... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2014 @10:47AM (#47288471)

    Drone flights by law enforcement agencies and the military, which already occur on a limited basis, are projected to surge.

    Papers please, comrade.

    Congratulations, America, you have created Big Brother.


  • by Wycliffe ( 116160 ) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @11:51AM (#47288757) Homepage

    There are no regulations yet developed for UAV airworthiness. They must be held to the same standards and regulations as other digital fly by wire aircraft. None of htem are currently close. None have real triple redundant computers, etc...

    Not the same standard but appropriate standards. Everyone knows a 10 ton airplane crashing into a building is a major safety problem
    whether there are passengers or not. A 200 lb aircraft is probably just as much as a problem if it happens to hit a person. On the
    other hand if you have a 20 lb aircraft with a safety chute that can be deployed to land gracefully on failure then it's probably ok.
    They either need to be designed to not fail (triple redundant, etc) or designed so that when they fail that they are not a hazard to
    innocent bystanders.

  • by clovis ( 4684 ) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @01:28PM (#47289123)

    I read the article, and I don't see any mention of how many drones were shot down or hit by gunfire. I don't know for sure, but I bet the drones in Afghanistan get shot at a lot, and I admit that will continue to be a problem in the United States.

    The article says the US military has about 10,000 drones and 400 from 2001 through 2013 means about 40 or less a year are lost. And that's while being shot at. What would be the failure rate of a Lexus if they were shot at every day while driving around?

    It said about a quarter of these are lost in the USA, but it doesn't mention if these are lost in product testing or training - situations known to cause high losses.

  • by GodInHell ( 258915 ) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @02:36PM (#47289369) Homepage
    Good point. Also - without knowing how many flights? There are hundreds of thousands of car crashes every year - but there are millions upon millions of miles traveled by car every year, so crashes are relatively rare. If there were 1000 drone flights and 400 crashes the article would have a point, but there were probable hundreds of thousands of military drone flights in the last 10 years.

    Also, Military aircraft do tend to crash very often around the world. see Wikipedia List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (2010–present) []. Note the string of fatalities caused by those crashes.

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