Drones are not toys, flight safety is the most important thing
“Technically speaking, drones are not 100% mature products. Instead of reminding users to pay attention to safety, manufacturers use it as a toy to promote and popularize it. This kind of thinking is very scary.”
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration strictly controls consumer drones, indicating that consumer drones need to be taken seriously. They are not toys or models, and improper users will face legal penalties.
The first live broadcast of Xiaomi’s drone, called “Dragonfly” by Lei Jun, was staged at 23:00 on the evening of May 25, 2016. To the embarrassment of Tang Yanglin, the product public relations manager of Xiaomi Technology who operated the drone, the “Dragonfly” suddenly fell in less than two minutes after flying in the night sky. “Immediately disappeared from the live broadcast, leaving only tens of thousands of netizens’ complaints and jokes.
After watching the live video of the first flight of the Xiaomi drone, on May 26, the netizen “AD 1874” said in a Weibo article titled “Be careful to buy a Xiaomi drone of 2499 yuan! The consequences are more serious than you think”, “I seriously despise all the employees and sailors who manufacture and promote Xiaomi drones. You are murdering.” The article questioned the potential safety hazards of Xiaomi drones. In less than 24 hours, this article has been read more than 3.2 million, and the safety hazards and regulatory issues of domestic consumer drones, including Xiaomi drones, have been brought to the forefront.
On February 2, 2016, in Guangzhou, China, a media photographer prepares to use a drone to take aerial photos of the Spring Festival passenger flow at Guangzhou Railway Station. (Southern Weekend reporter Weng Huan/Photo)
Does Xiaomi drone have quality problems?
“1874 AD” is a veteran “drone enthusiast” who has been playing drones for ten years. “The first contact with drones was when I was in college, and it was called model aircraft at that time. Model aircraft was the predecessor of drones, and a set of equipment cost nearly 100,000 yuan.” “AD 1874” explained to Southern Weekend, “I used to play model aircraft. There is a high bar.”
And Xiaomi advocates “Xiaomi drones ≠ local tyrants’ toys”, and the starting price of 2499 yuan lowers this threshold. As more and more drone technology companies enter the consumer drone market, flying has gradually moved from a “niche hobby” to a “mass entertainment”.
But the low price also attracts distrust from consumers: “There must be a problem with the quality.” The scene of the plane crashing in the live broadcast of the first test flight has put overwhelming doubts in front of the Xiaomi drone.
In the early morning of May 26, Tang Yanglin (net name “Crazy Yanglin”) responded on Weibo: “I just saw someone misrepresenting ‘fried chicken’ during the live broadcast, and I felt it was necessary for me to explain. First During the first test flight, I didn’t notice that the battery of the aircraft was already low, and after flying out for a while, the aircraft began to land automatically on low power.”
“I have no evidence to prove that Yang Lin is telling the truth.” said Da Mu, a practitioner in the drone industry, “but as an old friend of Yang Lin, I choose to believe him.” But Cheng Fei questioned the response. “With such a high level of attention, why don’t you check and debug carefully before the test flight? Is this Xiaomi’s self-marketing?” Cheng Fei is a photo editor. Out of his love for photography, he can be described as a drone product. keen.
Tang Yanglin’s explanation also failed to convince netizens. “Is it an out-of-control fall or a low-power automatic fall?” Ogi explained, “This is a point that everyone generally doubts.”
According to Lu Dingkang, a practitioner in the drone industry, if the aircraft falls during the live video broadcast due to the loss of control, the cause of the loss of control may be due to radio interference during the flight and a problem with the flight control system; it may also be the quality of the product itself. question. If the aircraft is “low-power automatic landing” as mentioned by Tang Yanglin, according to Xiaomi’s promotion: “When the power of the Xiaomi drone is insufficient, the system will calculate the time required to return to the flight based on the current distance and altitude, and then Send a return reminder”, in this case, Tang Yanglin should be able to receive the reminder and notice the low battery status of the aircraft. But Tang Yanglin mentioned in his response on Weibo that he did not notice the low battery state. This shows that the power monitoring function of Xiaomi drones may actually fail.
On June 14, 2016, Li Zhuoqi, the head of the Xiaomi ecological chain brand, told Southern Weekend that the power monitoring function of Xiaomi drones did not fail. In fact, I did not receive the low battery return prompt because the remote control was not connected to the mobile app at that time. “Because the remote control is not connected to the App, when the battery only has 15% remaining power and starts to land slowly, the pilot does not notice the problem of insufficient power, and manually replenishes the throttle to force the drone to maintain the original altitude until the battery power is close to 2 After the % was almost exhausted and the battery was almost out of power, the drone fell for a few seconds in the video, and the pilot realized the power problem and finally made the drone safely on the side of the road through full throttle recovery.”
Li Zhuoqi said that after the “crash” incident, the Xiaomi UAV engineer team updated the firmware: if the battery is less than 30%, it is not allowed to take off; if the remote control is not connected to the mobile app, it is not allowed to take off. “Although this may affect the user experience, it can minimize similar accidents.”
The official explanation of Xiaomi drone did not eliminate the concerns of netizens. “1874 AD” told Southern Weekend: “When this originally niche product began to be popularized, I had to worry about its quality.”
“Maybe it’s murder for money”
The quality of drones is reflected in flight safety and stability, which is the first pass for drone technology companies to strictly control. Due to the many potential safety hazards of drones, collision with obstacles, interference and loss of control may lead to crashes or explosions. Due to factors such as improper operation or machine failure, the drone falls abnormally, and no damage after falling to the ground is called a crash. Broken and disintegrated, completely unable to fly.
“Falling or blowing up a plane is a normal thing in the aircraft model circle. We have a joking saying that if you drop it ten times and blow it up three times, you will be hired.” : smashing people, smashing things.” “AD 1874” said.
When he first came into contact with drones, “AD 1874” used a FUTABA aircraft to test flight downstairs in his home. Due to the interference of the signal, the drone smashed the glass of the neighbor’s house due to loss of control when it flew to the fifth floor. “The wireless remote control is not very accurate at the civilian level, and a slight disturbance may lead to loss of control.”
In addition to the quality of the product itself, improper user operation will also cause the drone to crash or explode. Shenzhen DJI Innovation Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as DJI), which specializes in consumer drones, has made statistics on the common emergencies during the flight of drones. Wang Fan, director of public relations at DJI, told Southern Weekend: “According to data, more than 90% of aircraft accidents are caused by customer operations.”
“1874 A.D.” describes a drone accident he experienced as “heartbroken.” In Shaoxing in 2014, he saw a young man playing a drone of the DJI Phantom series in the square. “At that time, there was a group of people watching, and the young man started to show off and play fancy flying when he saw a lot of people. As a result, he got tangled in the line of the kite flying next to him and lost control. People around dodged everywhere, and finally the drone hit the ground and fell apart. .”
Meng Xiaozhi, who lives in Anyang, Henan, opened a film and television studio in partnership with a friend, and he needs to control drones when he undertakes work such as advertisements and promotional films. Once, Meng Xiaozhi controlled the DJI Phantom 3P version of the drone in the community. After flying far away, he tried to pull it back, but the drone did not obey and flew straight out of the community, eventually hitting the wall.
Just two weeks ago, Liu Que, who was taking a graduation photo with a friend at the Zhuhai College of Beijing Institute of Technology, was hit by a drone that fell out of control and injured his right shoulder. At that time, she was taking a photo with her friends on the grass on the campus. Suddenly, an aerial photography drone that fell from the sky hit a branch and cut off a lot of leaves. Liu Que instinctively dodged, thinking it was going to fly away, but the drone suddenly It flew up and hit a branch again, and then fell directly. On the spot, Liu Que’s right shoulder was cut with two wounds, and the blood flowed non-stop. When dealing with the wound, the doctor said, “Fortunately, I didn’t cut my neck, or I would die…”
“You must be in awe of drones, or you might be making money and killing people.” Damu said that he has seen too many scenes of drones blowing up, “The whole process is only 3-5 seconds, and it has just begun. The pilot who touches the drone doesn’t have time to react at all.”
Why test flight at night
“At the Xiaomi drone launch conference, Lei Jun reminded everyone that drones should fly in unmanned places, which is actually to popularize flying culture.” Damu said, “But night flying is very risky, I didn’t understand (Xiaomi) ) Why live at night.”
Even drone enthusiasts can’t figure out why the live video of the first flight should be recorded at night. “Flying at night is a very dangerous move in the eyes of veterans, but they choose this method when they launch the product for the first test flight, which can easily lead to misleading customers.” “AD 1874” told Southern Weekend, he I am worried that after watching the video, netizens feel that the drone is easy to operate and can fly in urban areas, and it does not matter day and night.
“Technically speaking, drones are not 100% mature products. Instead of repeatedly reminding users to pay attention to safety, manufacturers use it as a toy to promote and popularize. This kind of thinking is very scary.” Chang Chenjie said. He believes that the choice of Xiaomi drone to test flight at night is irresponsible. Chang Chenjie, who has liked to play with model aircraft since he was a child, completed his first flight with his DIY aircraft more than 20 years ago. Although he has been in contact with model aircraft for 20 years, he is well aware of the safety hazards of model aircraft. Before each flight, he will choose the time and place of flight very carefully.
The netizen “Call Me Doll Noodles” also said that although he has ten years of flying experience, he and his “friends” will still arrange the weekly flying activities in the daytime, in the suburbs and other places with few people and cars. .
“Safety is DJI’s biggest concern.” Wang Fan, director of public relations at DJI, told Southern Weekend, “DJI has been reminding consumers to pay attention to flight safety through various channels and means. Safety operation guidelines and official teaching videos have been repeatedly posted to Users emphasize correct flight conditions and operating procedures; the DJI community, official WeChat and Weibo are also constantly disseminating flight safety knowledge; through channels such as the new pilot training camp, users can also enjoy face-to-face teaching.”
“In the early publicity process, Xiaomi has repeatedly emphasized that Xiaomi drones are efficient, stable, safe and reliable, and can still fly smoothly in harsh environments. The impression left to new pilots is that this product is extremely easy to use and extremely risky. Small, exaggerating the reliability of the product.” “AD 1874” sent a screenshot to Southern Weekend, the content of which was a Weibo posted by “Crazy Yang Lin” on May 23, in which it wrote: “This time When I came out to shoot, most of them were flying in a wind environment above level 5, especially Yadan, Salt Lake and Gobi, and the gusts even reached level 7!” “But in fact, we will never fly when the wind is strong at level 7, Because it is easy to get out of control.” “AD 1874” said, “The subsequent test flight was carried out at night, which is almost a negative teaching material.”
Asked whether Xiaomi’s test flight violated the rules, the Civil Aviation Administration of China told Southern Weekend: “You can refer to the “Light and Small UAV Operation Regulations (Trial)” and make corresponding judgments based on conditions such as sight distance and weight.” Article 11.2 of “Regulations on Aircraft Operation (Trial Implementation)” clearly stipulates that “it must be operated in the daytime”. However, the weight of the Xiaomi drone is 1376g, which belongs to the class I drone (the empty aircraft mass is less than or equal to 1.5kg). Managed in accordance with the subsequent provisions of this advisory circular.” Clause 11.2 has no restriction on drones under 1.5kg.
In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration’s new regulations, which took effect on December 21, 2015, require drones weighing more than 0.5 pounds (about 0.23 kilograms) to be registered, and the registration fee is $5. After the registration is complete, the system will automatically generate a unique drone registration number, which the drone owner will mark on the device.
Cao Weding, a lawyer from Guangdong Chenggong Law Firm, believes that the new regulations issued by the US Federal Aviation Administration reveal such a message: “Consumer drones need to be taken seriously, they are not toys or models, and improper users will face legal penalties. .”
When asked by Southern Weekly why Li Zhuoqi chose to fly the Xiaomi drone at night for the first time, he said: “The live broadcast is not an official event.”
The “unattended” state may end
According to the “Special Research Report on China’s Civil UAV Market 2015” released by the Analysys think tank, driven by the popularity of the consumer UAV market, it is expected that the sales market size of China’s civil UAV products will reach 11.09 billion yuan in 2018.
Undoubtedly, Xiaomi has brought drones into a larger consumer group, and more and more people will bring drones to “explore the distant horizon”. However, my country’s current laws, regulations and government documents cannot effectively manage and guide the manipulation, airworthiness, operation, and approval of civil drones. Zhang Qihuai, a researcher at the University’s Aviation and Space Law Research Center, believes that this will hinder the development of the drone industry to a certain extent.
Just talking about the “manipulation” link, according to the “Interim Regulations on the Management of Civil Unmanned Aircraft System Pilots” issued on November 18, 2013, unmanned aerial vehicles with an empty weight of less than or equal to 7 kg are micro-UAVs. When operating within the line of sight (meaning that the aircraft is operating within a radius of 500 meters within the visual line of sight of the driver or observer, and the relative height is less than 120 meters), the pilot does not need to be licensed. Zhang Qihuai believes that the overly simple principle of “unmanned control” cannot regulate the flight of flexible and diverse civilian drones, which is almost equivalent to placing it in a vacuum of rules.
On May 28, 2016, a micro drone over Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport interfered with the normal operation of the airport, causing 55 flights to fail to take off and land normally. Who is the micro-drone responsible for? As of now, the question remains unanswered.
Ke Yubao, executive secretary of the China Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, told Southern Weekend that countries are at the stage of learning from each other in the supervision of drones. The Flight Standards Department of the Civil Aviation Administration of my country will also revise the “Interim Regulations on the Management of Civil Unmanned Aircraft System Pilots”. The revised draft will add a filing system. Micro-UAVs need to be filed with the cloud system to get rid of the “nothing” when operating within the line-of-sight. man-management” state.
The current “Interim Regulations on the Management of Civil Unmanned Aircraft System Pilots” mentions that if they operate outside the line of sight, the pilots of the micro-UAV systems are managed by the Chinese Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. However, the “Annual Report on the Development of Civil Aviation Pilots in China (2015)” issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China shows that in 2015, the total number of UAV pilot certificates in my country was only 2,142. It happens from time to time, but how to ensure that these users accept the management of the association is a difficult problem.
Ke Yubao believes that to solve this problem, we must first cultivate the aviation culture of the people. “Aviation culture is like traffic laws. In the past, we ordinary people crossed the road and waited for traffic lights. Through the popularization of traffic culture through traffic publicity months and traffic publicity days, everyone gradually learned that now ordinary people rarely cross the road. , without waiting for the traffic lights, the culture is slowly cultivated like this.” Ke Yubao said, “Where can fly, where can’t fly, and what rules and regulations must be followed when flying, these are aviation culture.”
For drone enthusiasts, aviation culture is more of a feeling. “Because flying is a dream, so they are in awe, so they are cautious.” They are not only worried about the “flying accidents” caused by the unsatisfactory quality of drones and the lack of safety guidelines, but also the problems that drones may face after frequent accidents.” One-size-fits-all” policy.
“The government, the bureau and the air traffic control department can understand this feeling.” Ke Yubao said. In Beijing, the airspace management department is setting out several areas that will not affect the flight safety of other aircraft. It is designated as a pilot to set up temporary airspace to allow micro-UAVs to fly in the airspace within the line of sight and the relative height of less than 100 meters. In the future More cities will also set aside airspace and open spaces for drone enthusiasts to use. But the rules are in a circle. As a new business format, drones need a new supervision model. The Civil Aviation Administration of China told Southern Weekend that my country’s drone supervision system is gradually being established, and it is expected that all drones will be under management before December 31, 2017.
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