DJI drones get tiny parachute safety system to protect crowds

A company called Indemnis has developed a parachute safety system for the DJI Inspire 2 drone, one that helps keep people on the ground safe by slowly lowering a drone that would otherwise fall. The system, which is called Nexus, is the first of its kind to meet an international safety standard, paving the way for FAA permission to fly a drone over crowds.

Flying drones over crowds comes with an inherent, obvious risk: it could fall and hit someone, causing injury due to impact and/or the spinning rotors. For this reason, the FAA will only grant a waiver to fly a drone over crowds if the operator can prove there are safety mechanisms in place to help keep people on the ground safe.

Various solutions have been proposed and created — there are cages that can go around the rotors to prevent them from cutting someone, for example, but that doesn't reduce impact injury from being struck by a drone. A parachute, however, would ensure a falling drone is lowered slowly, eliminating impact injuries while giving people a chance to get out of the way.

That's where the Indemnis Nexus comes in. This parachute system was designed specifically for DJI drones and is the first to meet an international standard for small drone parachute systems. By adding this tested, proven parachute system to their drone, operators may have a better shot at receiving an FAA waiver to fly over crowds.

The new safety system features what looks like a canister attached to the drone. Sensors built into the system monitor the drone for signs of tilting, wobbling, or falling, at which point it fires out a small parachute at 90mph. The system is designed to avoid the drone's body and rotors during this process, ensuring the parachute survives to lower the drone.

Support for DJI's pro-tier Matrice drones will arrive later this year.