Drone camera crashes in Manhattan


posted Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 12:37 PM EDT


A Phantom quadcopter will set you back all of $500, which means it's affordable enough for just about anyone to use. Unfortunately, buying one doesn't seem to automatically confer the smarts on how to fly it, or the wisdom on where to — as evidenced by a drone that crashed and almost hit man in Manhattan earlier this week.

Apparently, the drone hit a building, and tumbled to the ground on Monday evening, narrowly missing a businessman. The man recovered the memory card from the Phantom quadcopter, and gave it to a local ABC affiliate, who posted the video online. And, if you watch the video, you'll see a few stunning vistas of Manhattan, but also an awful lot of flying into buildings. It might be due to high winds at that height, but the pilots manage to ram the thing into more than a few office towers.

The legality of flying drones in dense populations like this is an interesting question. The police are apparently looking into the situation to see if "reckless endangerment" is involved. But this flight does break FAA rules, which mandate that drones must not be flown over built-up areas, and a FAA representative told ABC7 that "We do not currently permit the operation of unmanned aircraft over congested areas like Manhattan."

Since the drone's operators are in clear view for part of the video, we can imagine that they'll probably find themselves getting a knock on the door before too long.