Just when you thought getting doored was the most traumatizing thing that could happen to you as a cyclist, now there are vehicles in the sky you need to watch out for.
A DJI Phantom drone flying over cyclists on May 6 during the Golden State Race Series in Rancho Cordova, Calif. hit a tree, crashing into a rider’s front wheel. The cyclist was able to bike a bit further down the road, until the drone locked up the front wheel, causing the biker to fly over the handle bars.
Another biker, Kaito Clarke, who was using a Garmin Virb camera to video his race, captured the whole drone collision on camera, which he then posted to YouTube. Watch the drone collision here, which starts around the 30-second mark and replays again in slow motion:
The cyclist suffered a gravel rash and the drone pilot, who immediately came forward to admit it was his device, offered to purchase a new bike for the injured cyclist.
This isn’t the first crash from a drone made by DJI, which has what analysts say is a 70% market share of the drone market. In 2015, a Phantom drone belonging to a government employee crashed near the White House. DJI attempted to mitigate that and future situations by putting a virtual fence on its drones, building software that prevents them from flying within a 15.5-mile radius of downtown Washington, D.C.
As drones become more commonplace, drone crashes like this could happen a lot more frequently. People bought 2.4 million hobbyist drones in the U.S. in 2016, more than double the 1.1 million sold in 2015, according to the Consumer Technology Association.
The Federal Aviation Administration created new rules in 2016 that make it illegal for commercial drone operators in the U.S. to fly drones over people not directly participating in the operation. Only two companies have waivers exempting them from those rules — FLIR, which makes thermal cameras used on drones, and CNN, which tethers its drones to the ground for safety.
The FAA’s rules around hobby drone operators — meaning people flying drones not for profit — are significantly less strict. Hobby drone pilots are supposed to follow safety guidelines developed by groups such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics, which say you should not intentionally fly over people. But those are guidelines, not rules, meaning that the drone pilot flying over this race may not have broken any rules if they weren’t flying for commercial purposes.
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