Drones

SmartChutes gives wayward drones a soft(er) landing

SmartChutes gives wayward dron...
SmartChutes automatically deploys a rescue parachute when it detects that the drone is about to crash
SmartChutes automatically deploys a rescue parachute when it detects that the drone is about to crash
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SmartChutes automatically deploys a rescue parachute when it detects that the drone is about to crash
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SmartChutes automatically deploys a rescue parachute when it detects that the drone is about to crash
While the SmartChutes prototype does look kind of ... big, its designer is aiming at a 30-percent size reduction and a weight of under 4 oz (113 g) for the finished product
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While the SmartChutes prototype does look kind of ... big, its designer is aiming at a 30-percent size reduction and a weight of under 4 oz (113 g) for the finished product

Flying a drone can be a nerve-racking experience. No matter how careful you are, there's always a chance that your several-hundred-dollar aircraft could lose a prop, lose power, or otherwise get messed up and come plummeting to the ground. That's why Nashville-based videographer and drone enthusiast Michael Pick developed SmartChutes.

As you might have guessed, SmartChutes is an automatically-deploying parachute system for consumer drones. Manually-operated systems do already exist, as do setups for larger commercial multicopters.

When the SmartChutes system's onboard flight sensor detects that the aircraft is in free-fall or that it's tilted over by more than 90 degrees, it automatically ejects the 36-inch (91-cm) chute from its spring-loaded canister within 350 milliseconds. Users can also manually execute a parachute landing, simply by cutting out the throttle and letting their drone drop.

While the SmartChutes prototype does look kind of ... big, its designer is aiming at a 30-percent size reduction and a weight of under 4 oz (113 g) for the finished product
While the SmartChutes prototype does look kind of ... big, its designer is aiming at a 30-percent size reduction and a weight of under 4 oz (113 g) for the finished product

Because it runs on its own rechargeable battery, the SmartChute will still work even if the drone's battery is dead – which is one of the main reasons that it might be falling in the first place.

While the prototype does look kind of ... big, Pick is aiming at a 30-percent size reduction and a weight of under 4 oz (113 g) for the finished product. He's now raising funds in order to accomplish that goal, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$130 will currently get you one, when and if it reaches production – different mounting brackets are available for different makes of drones. The planned retail price is $160.

The SmartChutes system can seen in use, in the following pitch video.

Sources: SmartChutes, Kickstarter

SmartChutes - Autonomous Quadcopter Parachute Recovery System

4 comments
Bob
I've had birds attack and knock my little quad-copter out of the air several times. A chute this heavy would certainly shorten my airtime plus the price seems a little excessive.
The Skud
I wonder if he has considered the market (huge?) for a model airplane version? They have a unfortunate history of impacting with ground zero as well.
flink
That's a really cool product. I came in to mention the RC plane area, too. It's sad thing to see a grown man weeping over a heap of wreckage that was once beautiful recreation of a B-24.
unklmurray
I think we should be able to shoot drones kinda like clay pigeons or skeet you the driver of the drone would try to drive in such a way so-as 2 keep from being grounded!!But that would be too much fun!!