Drones gone wild: 10 acts of unmanned aerial idiocy

Drones gone wild
Frederic Legrand/Shutterstock
People are geeking out over drones. You can use one to take awesome overhead photography, make deliveries, or just show off the aerial tricks to your friends. The technology once associated with military use is now accessible to civilians (much to the dismay of government agencies) in the form of quadcopters – some costing less than $100 – and people are going crazy for them. Perhaps the government has a right to be concerned: While most people are flying responsibly, there are a few knuckleheads out there who have decided to ruin the fun for everyone, by crashing their new toys or flying them in places where they shouldn’t – making all drone lovers look bad. Here are some of those lamebrain moves.

1. Fly a drone above the White House

A small drone crashed on the White House grounds, causing a lockdown of the entire complex. According to the New York Times, the drone was being flown by an “inebriated, off-duty employee for a government intelligence agency,” who was flying it from a nearby apartment and lost control. Since this incident, DJI, the maker of the drone, has updated its firmware to ban its drones from flying in the nation’s capital. Way to make responsible drone users look bad, man. Crashing a drone in your neighbor’s backyard is bad enough without putting national security in jeopardy.

2. Startle a herd of endangered Bighorn Sheep

Talk about campsite faux pas. The U.S. National Park Service bans drones in every national park after a man startled a herd of endangered Bighorn Sheep in Zion National Park. I’m still waiting for the Park Service to ban other faux pas. I’m looking at you, chain-smoking biker-dude who once asked me for a wrench.

3. Crash a drone into a geological wonder

A Dutch tourist crashed his drone into Yellowstone’s largest hot spring. It’s a major bummer: it’s unknown what long-term damages may have been caused, and authorities can’t actually locate the drone. What’s worse, the man admitted to his mistake because he wanted the Park Service to retrieve his drone; he’s lucky he just got a fine.

4. Smuggle drugs from Mexico

A drone carrying crystal meth crashed in a Tijuana parking lot. Perhaps the culprits should not have overloaded the thing with 6 pounds of synthetic meth. Someone, quick, pitch this to Vince Gilligan.

5. Attach a mistletoe to a drone

Nothing says “I love you” like fast-spinning propellers heading straight toward your lover’s face. Ignore the scratches and large chunks of hair – and possibly blood, with a smidgen of Jack Daniel’s sauce – it’s the thought that counts.

6. Bring down a triathlete

Drones seem to have a magnetic attraction to faces. Australian Athlete Raija Ogden was drilled by a drone when competing in the running portion of a triathlon. The drone’s owner, a photographer, said the drone may have been hacked.

7. Cruise over Heathrow International

When landing at Heathrow, a pilot noticed a drone flying next to the plane that air-traffic control couldn’t spot. Thankfully, the drone wasn’t close enough to the plane to do any damage, but something that size is enough to be a serious hazard.

8. Get a wedding close-up

A wedding photographer wanted to catch the bride and groom stealing a moment in the garden by flying a drone over their embrace. But he lost control and made a mess of things: the drone left cuts on the groom’s face and neck. Surprisingly, he was a good sport about it; not sure if others would feel the same way about having their mugs slashed.

9. Waste taxpayers’ money

What does a $250,000 experimental drone get you? Apparently not much if it disintegrates in midair during a SWAT training exercise in Montgomery County, Texas. Granted, the drone’s demise, which crashed into a lake, was caused by a rotor blade coming apart. Good thing for insurance: county officials plan to replace it, hopefully with something that’s tried-and-tested.

10. Glide over running of the bulls

A man flies his drone over thousands during The Great Bull Run in Virginia, an event similar to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. As if being chased by massive animals wasn’t scary enough, now you have to worry about a flying object falling on you. You see where this is going.

We recognize not every drone owner is irresponsible, but it’s the few huge mistakes that make everyone else look bad. These ten instances are just some of the stupidest accidents out there.

Emerging Tech

Smarter cities need smarter addresses. And you just need 3 words

To make really smart transportation choices, more precise location data will have to be integrated with citywide transportation data. Here’s how one company is mapping the world by using just three words.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees
Product Review

These AirPod look-alikes are better in every way but one

With silicone eartips, water resistance, and a more palatable price tag, Mobvoi’s Ticpods Free are impressive AirPod doppelgangers. But for all the great things they have going for them, there’s one flaw holding them back.
Emerging Tech

Warm up or cool down with the press of a button on the wrist-worn Embr

We review the Embr Wave, a personal heating and cooling wearable designed by a team of MIT engineers that’s now on Kickstarter. Our thoughts? It’s a little bit addictive.
Emerging Tech

Hope it doesn’t melt! Rocket to ISS carries vital supplies — including ice cream

A rocket has launched over Virginia's eastern shore, carrying supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Inside the spacecraft are supplies for the ISS itself and the crew onboard, such as scientific equipment and food.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?
Emerging Tech

‘Super-Earth’ discovered orbiting nearby star

Astronomers have discovered a large planet circling a sun nearby to Earth called Barnard's Star. The potential new planet is thought to be cold and icy and has a size of around 3.2 times the Earth.
Emerging Tech

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully tests its asteroid-sampling arm

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, launched in September 2016, is closing in on its target of the Bennu asteroid. The craft has now unfurled its robotic arm, called the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), and tested it successfully.
Product Review

DJI has always been the king of drones, and the new Mavics are almost perfect

After flying both the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom for over a week, we’re convinced that these are two of the best drones that DJI has ever made.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Emerging Tech

Ghostly galaxy discovered lurking on the edge of the Milky Way

A team of astronomers from the University of Cambridge have discovered a strange galaxy next door to the Milky Way. The dwarf galaxy, named Antlia 2, is dark and dim and gives out much less light than expected.
Emerging Tech

Ancient crater the size of NYC discovered under the Greenland ice sheet

A huge crater has been discovered beneath the ice of Greenland, and is thought to be the result of a meteorite impact millions of years ago. The crater is one of the largest ever discovered, measuring 19 miles across.