A drone delivery program in Switzerland has suspended immediately after one of its Swiss drone crashed just 50 yards away from a group of children. According toFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports, that the 10-kg (22-pound) drone, capable of carrying up to 2-kg of cargo came across an issue during a flight in Zurich May. However, the drone was equipped with an emergency parachute but it somehow managed to cut the connecting cord during its emergency landing.
It results in an uncontrolled crash, nobody was injured in this incident. This comes as multiple regulators are easing flight restrictions to allow commercial drone deliveries. Google’s wing has been granted regulatory approval to make deliveries in the US and Australia. In the US the FAA is considering new rules that would allow drones to fly over crowds and at night. This mark the second crash suffered by the Swiss drone delivery program this year.
Back in January, one of the drones, which is operated by US drone startup Matternet in collaboration with Swiss Post, suffered an issue with its GPS system, causing it to make an emergency landing. In that case, the drone’s parachute successfully deployed, and the landing was controlled. The delivery program was suspended until April.
Currently, it is unclear what exactly caused the May crash or if the drone was carrying cargo at the time. Swiss Post’s preliminary investigation suggests that wind may have been to blame. Despite the crash being close to the proximity of children, the incident occurred over a forest, rather than a populated area or a school. In response to the crash, the company has asked Matternet to make several changes to the safety features of its drones.
It wants each drone to be connected to its parachute by two ropes rather than one, it wants the ropes to be reinforced with metal braiding, and it wants the drone’s existing emergency landing whistle to be louder. Swiss Post also said that they are establishing a board of experts to advise the postal service on the safety aspects of drone delivery services. The swiss delivery program has been running in Switzerland since 2017 where it delivers lab samples such as blood tests flown between hospital facilities, clinics, and labs.
Matternet said that they have given a statement to Spectrum IEEE in which it said that it had never seen a failure like the one that its drone experienced in May and that the drone’s parachute system had never failed before.
Moreover, IEEE Spectrum notes that the service was operating in three Swiss cities until its suspension, and had made around 3,000 successful flights as of January. Matternet doesn’t just operate in Switzerland. In the US, UPS partnered with the drone startup at the start of this year to deliver medical supplies in North Carolina.