Ten Tips for Catching a Drone Safely

I often joke that drones are like flying Edward Scissorhands. Those propellers can really do some damage if they come into contact with anything other than air! Just check out how the drone below is able to slice and dice for your daily smoothie…

So why on earth would I want to have that anywhere close enough to my body to catch?

The truth is that sometimes catching the drone is actually sometimes safer than the alternative. In my case, if I’m working off the back of a small boat for example, there’s often very little clear space for the drone to land. It’s always wet, and there’s usually a lot of other equipment around. The boat is also not stationary, so the drone is likely to even crash into the side of the boat and potentially spin out of control and cause further damage.

So when I weigh up the risks, catching it is a better option – as long as I take certain precautions!

Sure, these tips may seem like common sense, but I have seen drone injuries and they’re not pretty. So hopefully this helps you to continue or even start your drone operations safely and confidently.

If you’re out and about flying, have you considered donating some data to science? All it takes is just one extra battery and 15 minutes of your time to fly a mapping mission. Upload the data to GeoNadir and contribute to my global mapping vision, helping us protect at-risk ecosystems.

How can I catch my drone safely?

Here are my top tips for a safe catch:

  1. The longer the ‘legs’ on your drone, the better. The handle like legs on the Phantom 4 work really well.
  2. Have two people – one controlling the drone, the other catching. I know some people can control and catch for themselves, but I find that my hands are too small to hold the controller safely in one hand. Hopefully your catcher has long arms!
  3. Have the drone operator standing (never sit – you can get out of the way faster if standing) directly behind the catcher so that you have the same perspective.
  4. Practice the technique and the communication required with your droning partner in a safe and stress free location rather than when it’s mission critical.
  5. Make sure that you have ample battery remaining so you don’t feel stressed or forced to make a swift landing.
  6. Try to have the sun behind you, or at least off to the side rather than in the catcher’s eyes as they look up.
  7. Wear protective gloves – did you see how easily the drone blender sliced through those carrots? I have some pretty basic kevlar ones (e.g. like this) and I think they cost me about $15. In the photo above my colleague Dr Tim Hawthorne is using gardening gloves but I never liked those so much as they were bulky and made me feel a bit clumsy.
  8. Wear glasses – again with the drone blender – did you see the cherry tomatoes?
  9. Take of your hat so the prop wash doesn’t blow it away 🙂
  10. Slowly bring the drone down to the catcher’s hands. The catcher should then loosely grip the legs rather than grabbing it, or little dronie will rev up and and get upset! The catcher should keep their arms extended until the motors come to a complete stop.

Sure, these tips may seem like common sense, but I have seen drone injuries and they’re not pretty. So hopefully this helps you to continue or even start your drone operations safely and confidently.

If you’re out and about flying, have you considered donating some data to science? All it takes is just one extra battery and 15 minutes of your time to fly a mapping mission. Upload the data to GeoNadir and contribute to my global mapping vision, helping us protect at-risk ecosystems.

Subscribe for more Stories From Above, Tips, & Tricks

Share this article with your peers on social media.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn