When it comes to consumer drones, the public perception is divided between those who think they are cool, and those who find them annoying, useless, invasive, or dangerous. When the two groups meet, it’s not always a pretty picture. One drone recently captured the tension on video, after a woman swiped the crashed racer, unaware it was recording not only the heist but all her thoughts about drone usage. But that’s only one part of the story.
In the video above (via Bokeh), the pilot was flying a drone in a designated area of a park in Southern California, using an attached GoPro to send a first-person view to his goggles to safely fly the vehicle. The drone in question is registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot said. We’ve heard plenty of drones-gone-horribly-wrong stories, thanks to untrained pilots who ruin it for everyone, but the pilot in question seems responsible enough.
When the drone lost signal, it landed on the ground – as it’s programmed to do. While the landing was ordinary, what happened next was anything but. A passerby grabs the drone and stuffs it under her shirt, in what looks like a theft. But the woman was unaware that the GoPro was still recording, and it captured not only the entire incident, but her elaborate scheme (warning: video contains strong language) that ended involving law enforcement.
You can watch the video to see the whole thing unfold, but here’s the gist: After the woman retrieved the drone, she called the police to say it had landed five feet from her. She had even recorded a video with a smartphone, saying the drone almost hit her and her dog. The GoPro video contradicts her claim as she’s making it, as it shows her nowhere near the drone when it landed. After the drone pilot caught her attempting to abscond with the drone beneath her clothing, the police got involved.
While the video audio is entertaining enough to rack up nearly half a million views in a few days, the footage captures some of the perceptions the public has about drone use. As Bokeh points out, the situation could have favored the woman’s story, had it not been for the GoPro evidence; the woman seemed more intent on giving drone owners a bad name than actually stealing it.
The woman expressed concern over the drone’s flight path being near where kids ride their bikes. According to the pilot, he had just let a few kids try on the first-person goggles, and was using the GoPro to ensure he wasn’t flying it unsafely. The woman also (mistakenly) said the drone was illegal.
While no charges were brought on either side, the pilot hopes the footage helps fight some of the stigma on drone use. “The next time you fly, take a moment to talk to the kid in the park or the person walking their dog,” he writes in the video. “Let them try on your goggles and explain to them how we fly responsibly and that they shouldn’t be afraid of FPV racing drones.”