People have long suggested putting parachutes on a drone to ensure drones are safe to fly, particularly over crowds of people. But a drone parachute is no good unless you can guarantee the parachute itself works. Alas: a drone parachute designed by Aerial Vehicle Safety Solutions (AVSS) just survived through and passed 45 different failure scenarios.
The Aerial Vehicle Safety Solutions parachute recovery system, which they call the PRS-M200, was used on a DJI M200 series drone. The parachute automatically deploys if the drone malfunctions in the air, and the system force the drone to cut its power (so the motors stop spinning).
The testing was done at NUAIR, which manages the FAA-designated New York UAS Test Site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, NY. In fact, this is the third parachute that’s gone through what’s called a “standard validation,” though the first for the DJI M200 series. It’s a “plug and play” system, so it’s easily attached to any DJI Matrice 200 series drone.
Here’s what it looks like, in action:
As part of the testing, the drone parachute was put through 45 functionality tests across five different failure scenarios. NUAIR acts as an outside, third-party, putting the drone and its parachute through 45 scenarios.
The tests were successful, which NUAIR says proves that it is compliant with the ASTM International standard specification for small UAS parachutes (ASTM is the agency that determines those 45 different failure scenarios).
ASTM is an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary technical standards that companies and makers largely agree to adhere to for a wide range of materials, whether it’s drone license plates or drone parachutes. And being ASTM compliant means AVSS can fulfill presales that were dependent on the safety validation. The parachute currently sells for $3,430.
Unique to the Matrice 200 system is a Parachute Pod, a feature where users don’t have to ship the parachute for repacking and can complete a quick swap in the field.
AVSS is a Canadian company founded in 2017.
Under Federal Aviation Administration rules, drones cannot fly over crowds unless they provide a waiver to prove they can safely fly. Parachutes are a common way to prove that level of safety.
The AVSS parachute isn’t the first parachute to be ASTM compliant. Last summer, the FAA gave clearance to general contractor and construction management company Hensel Phelps to fly over people with a drone carrying the ParaZero’s SafeAir Phantom Parachute System. Other parachutes to go through testing at NUAIR include the Nexus, designed by Alaska-based company, Indemnis, which passed rigorous testing last January.
All these parachutes means more drones flying over people (safely). More drones flying over people means more use cases, like delivering PPE during coronavirus — or simply just delivering Dunkin’ donuts.