For the first time in US history, a commercial drone equipped with a parachute safety system has been permitted to fly over people, with the flight taking place at a football game in North Dakota on the weekend.
Drone safety solutions company ParaZero (ASX: PRZ) today announced its SafeAir System was used on a DJI Phantom 4 being controlled by North Dakota drone operator Botlink.
The drone performed multiple flights over crowds gathered in the FargoDome’s parking lots for the tailgating event prior to the North Dakota State University vs South Dakota State football game on Saturday.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted a waiver for Part 107, which prohibits commercial unmanned aviation systems (UAS) from flying over unprotected people.
According to ParaZero chief executive Eden Attias, the “handful” of existing waivers for flights over people have either been for closed-set operations or for very lightweight and sometimes frangible UAS.
“This waiver opens the gates for safe flight over people with larger, more advanced UAS that can carry more sophisticated payloads and cameras,” he said.
While the FAA’s priority is public safety, its Part 107 limitation has inhibited the growth of the UAS industry as it blocks most operations in urban environments as well as some operations in rural areas.
According to Attias, ParaZero’s parachute system was a “major acceptance point of the waiver”.
The SafeAir system includes a fully autonomous triggering system that deploys quickly and reliably without being dependent on the operator’s response time.
Once the parachute is deployed, the system stops the spinning motors to avoid entanglement with the parachute cords and reduces the risk of laceration injuries to people on the ground.
Drone operator Botlink performed the flights to gather real-time footage for local law enforcement as well as for generating media content as part of the UAS Integration Pilot Program.
According to Attias, the use of the drone at a football game shows the massive opportunity for the use of UAS in commercial environments “whether for law enforcement, media applications, filming, live coverage of sporting events and more”.
“Our goal is to enable the fast growing UAS industry to reach its full potential by opening up the skies for business,” he said, adding that the company was eager to see additional waivers for flights over people in the future.
Recent ASX debut
ParaZero was founded in Israel in 2014 and debuted on the Australian Securities Exchange in June this year after raising $5 million at $0.20 per share.
The company planned to spend about $1.7 million of the cash raised as part of its listing on research and development projects and about $1.4 million on sales and marketing.
Less than a month after listing, it announced the delivery of first orders of its SafeAir M200 drone safety system for retailers and distributors in both Australia and the US.
In August, North Dakota’s department of transportation began testing ParaZero’s systems under the first phase of the UAS Integration Pilot Program.
ParaZero stock soared 21.43% to $0.17 on today’s news by midday trade.