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Drone Accidents: Not Your Fault? Researchers find that many drone accidents are due to the gadgets themselves rather than human error.

By Don Reisinger

This story originally appeared on PCMag

Shutterstock

Did you buzz your neighbor's shrubs or crash into your garage with a drone? Good news: it might not be your fault!

Researchers at Australia's RMIT University's School of Engineering and Edith Cowan University found that many drone accidents are due to the gadgets themselves rather than human error. Dr. Graham Wild and Dr. Glenn Baxter from RMIT and John Murray of ECU studied 150 civil incidents involving drones and found that 64 percent occurred due to technical problems.

The study, published in the journal Aerospace, pointed to "broken communications links" between the operator and the drone. As a result, the researchers think commercial aircraft-type regulations should be applied to the communications systems of drones.

"Large transport category aircraft, such as those from a Boeing or Airbus, are required to have triple redundant systems for their communications," Dr. Wild said in a statement. "But drones don't and some of the improvements that have reduced the risks in those aircraft could also be used to improve the safety of drones."

Exceptions can be made for drones under 55 pounds, he said, though pilots should have licenses. "It's essential that our safety regulations keep up with this rapidly growing industry," Dr. Wild argued.

The team started its research after reports of a drone collision at Heathrow Airport, though authorities later said it was "not a drone incident." Still, collisions do occur (see the video below), hitting everything from ferris wheels and the Empire State Building to the White House lawn (and there are certainly some dumbasses flying drones who should not be).

Don Reisinger

Contributing Writer

Don Reisinger has been a contributing writer for Fortune since 2015.

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