What Happens To Drones When They Fall Out Of The Skies?

from the what-goes-up,-must-come-down dept

For obvious reasons, stories about drones concentrate on what they can do while they are airborne. But they have to come down at some point, and sometimes emergency landings mean that they cannot return to base. An interesting story from Italy recounts what happened there in these circumstances:

A 24-year old college student in Bologna, Italy was arrested by Italian postal police after attempting to sell a drone that had emergency-landed on his apartment's terrace last October. The student had posted the drone, a privately-operated Microdrones quad-rotor helicopter owned by Italian startup Eye Sky, on Subito.it, an online auction site. The asking price for the $40,000 drone: 1,000 euros [$1300].
The Ars Technica post notes the mistakes the student made that enabled the police to track him down (hint: don't post too many details when you offer a drone for sale), and that he now faces up to a year in prison, and fines. But what's interesting here is that the student in question even thought of trying to sell it. It's almost as if drones belong to a different, heavenly world, and when they drop out of it into our earthly one, they are regarded as a kind of lucky gift from the gods to do with as we please. Of course, for all their novelty, they're just another kind of physical object that is owned by someone, who won't be best pleased if others try to appropriate it.

However, this does raise the question of what exactly the public should do when a drone comes down in their garden or on their roof. As drones and emergency landings in cities start to become more common, who do we call? Do we perhaps need a central Office of Lost Drones that can come along and pick them up?

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Filed Under: drones, ownership


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  1. icon
    G Thompson (profile), 6 Mar 2013 @ 4:14am

    I'm so sorry officers, but this thing dropped out of the sky in the middle of my field/backyard and there was nothing I could do after I accidentally ran over it with my vehicle.

    Yes yes I know it's a lot of damage from just being run over, but you need to know that I had to make sure it wasn't a danger to myself so after accidentally doing it once I somehow slipped on the accelerator a few more times, why yes reverse did get chosen in the gears a few times. How observant of you..

    What? there are pieces missing.. oh those must of been melted down for safety reasons, Yes safety reasons.. here if you wait a few hrs I will produce a copy of them that I expect any drone operator to abide by if they somehow enter onto my property. Though you're in luck, if you hurry I'm sure the garbage collectors will tell you where they took them.

    Oh and those photos of the thing I posted on the internet, They are really photos of my backyard/field and that thing was just in the way at the time. Nothing could of been done about not photographing it, next time it should move.

    Thankyou officers, now you have a good day

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