The U.S. might be one step closer to legally allowing drone flights over people, and it’s all due to one drone accessory: a parachute.
A parachute system called Nexus, designed by Alaska-based company, Indemnis, just went through a serious set of testing — and the result? It has been “validate as compliant” with international standards for drone parachutes.
The Nexus parachute system, which can instantly deploy if the drone detects flight anomalies, was designed for the DJI Inspire 2 and went through a testing process at the NUAIR drone test site in Rome, N.Y.
And what exactly was that testing process like?
The parachute went through 45 functionality tests across five different failure scenarios, taking four days of testing. Those tests validated that the Nexus on the Inspire 2 complies with the ASTM International F3322-18 Standard Specification For sUAS Parachutes, a type of standard that was finalized late last year.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits most drone operations directly over people as a safety precaution, but the parachute could change that. Though, drone operators can apply for a waiver to fly over people, something a handful of companies have done in the U.S.
So how does the Indemnis Nexus parachute for drones work?
- Nexus is a “ballistic parachute launcher.” That means it is triggered automatically if the drone suddenly begins tilting abnormally or falling.
- The parachute is deployed within 30 milliseconds at 90 mph through a tube that rapidly inflates to keep the parachute lines away from the drone body and propellers.
- The Nexus is currently only designed for DJI’s Inspire 2, but the company said it intends to offer it for Matrice 200 series and Matrice 600 series drones by late 2019.
The orange tube that houses the Nexus parachute is made from a composite material that contains Dyneema fibers (Dyneema is considered the strongest fiber in the world — some say fifteen times stronger than steel). Indemnis does say the parachute addition causes 3-5 minutes of flight loss, but added that aerodynamic performance is minimally affected.
The Nexus currently is only available for purchase through select DJI enterprise retailers.