Drone Snags A Snag, Pilot Faces Fine

If you hail from somewhere to which Australian beers have been exported, you could be forgiven for forming a view of the country based solely on TV adverts for Foster’s, or Castlemaine XXXX. Entertaining 30-second stories of wily young Aussies, and their inventive schemes to get their hands on a cool glass of the Amber Nectar.

Whether it’s an accurate depiction or not is something you’d have to ask an Australian, but it seems to provide a blueprint for at least some real-life stories. An Australian man in Sunbury, west of Melbourne, is to face a fine of up to A$9000 for using his multirotor to pick up a sausage in a bun from a stall in a superstore car park, and deliver it to him relaxing in his hot tub.

From one perspective the video of the event which we’ve posted below the break is a very entertaining film. We see the flight over houses and a main road to a local branch of Bunnings, an Australian hardware store chain. Their sausage sizzle is a weekly institution in which local non-profit groups sell barbecued sausages from a stall in the car park as a fundraiser. The drone lowers a bag on a string over people queuing, with a note saying “Please buy snag(Aussie slang for sausage) and put in bag, here’s $10”. Someone complies, and the tasty treat is flown back over suburbia to our hero in his tub. It’s fairly obviously a production with many takes and supporting actors rather than a real continuous flight, but the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority is nevertheless investigating it. Breaches of the rules are reported as being use of a drone within 30 metres of people, as well as flight beyond the line of sight and over a populated area. The original video has been taken down, but it lives on courtesy of Australian tech site EFTM.

Aside from providing our readership with entertainment courtesy of our Australian friends there is an important message to take away from this story. It’s likely that if they can adequately prove that their flight was never out of the line of sight they can escape some of the charges, but even so they have strayed into difficult territory. We’ve written about drone hysteria on the part of authorities before, and we are living in an age during which twitchy agencies have shown themselves willing to view what we know to be little more than grown-up toys as something akin to terror weapons. Of course people who use multirotors for wilful endangerment should be brought to book in no uncertain terms, but the line between that and innocuous use feels sometimes to have been shifted in an alarming direction. Please keep entertaining us with your multirotor exploits and hacks, but never take your eye off how what you are doing could be misconstrued by those in authority. We’d prefer not to be writing up drone stories involving fines.

As well as out look at incident report hysteria linked above, we’ve recently covered a so-called “Drone fence” installed at Denver airport. That’s an escalating field of technology, we also recently covered a device that can intercept communications with and take control of some drones.

Thanks [Smerwin] for the tip.

38 thoughts on “Drone Snags A Snag, Pilot Faces Fine

  1. If the string was long enough, you could avoid the “30 meters to people” rule, and the doode in the tub is obviously not the controller – the ‘controller’ could claim he was standing on the roof and therefore kept the drone in sight at all times. Flying over a populated area… a bit harder. Most of the area was empty paddock, but there were some houses in there…

  2. well the usa had drones and people strapped guns to them
    the uk had drones and people flew them into jumbo jets
    i’m ignorant of lots of things, drone misuse especially in oz is one of them. if this is the worst thing to happen then wow let this man have his sausage ffs.

    1. There was NO drone was flown into any aircraft in the UK. Another made up story!!! You’ll see the same story over the net but you’ll not here that a few weeks after the so call indecent there was a report that said no evidence that anything hit the plane.

      The worlds media is messed up, they’ll print any garbage to sell papers, the ultimate click bate. Just don’t read it and instead spend the time you have left doing what you enjoy. 20 years ago I was a political activist. Was at the poll tax protests all the good it did. It’s all still the same, the average person in the street is getting stitched up. You’re better off just doing your hobbies and ignoring the news. Ignorance really is bliss.

      Got to say, 9k fine!!! Wow!!! If they were that dangerous why are the police using them to fly over large crowds?

  3. One thing this article doesn’t mention is that much of Sunbury is located inside SFC (i.e. controlled airspace down to surface level) on account of the fact that it edges up to within 5km of Tullermarine International Airport.

    So yeah, not terribly smart guys.

  4. For a $9010 I hope it was a good sausage.

    Out of all the things done with drones, getting take out is hardly a threat to the Australian way of life. If they really feel the need to punish them, confiscating the drone seems more appropriate.

  5. Aus here. There is a board of people in CASA handling all things drone. The chairman for the past several years also happens to be the same guy making the most money in Australia selling the very expensive licencing courses. Vested interest in making it difficult for nonlicenced flyers. In practice it has meant something as simple as uploading your video to your own YouTube channel ifanad pops up there. Was only 6 weeks ago that this stopped being classed as a commercial flight.

    On the other hand, the rules state clearly to stay 30 metres measured horizontally away from anything expensive or squishy. The guy uploaded video clearly breaking the rules. Put him in the same class as someone who uploads videos of themselves speeding on the road. Half of the world speeds but keep it low key enough to stay off the radar.

  6. The problem is that many drones are marketed and sold as toys, and so people buy them and play with them as they would other toys.

    Example consequence, best viewed on an empty stomach: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3336366/Horrific-picture-shows-toddler-left-blind-one-eye-drone-propeller-sliced-eyeball-half.html

    And then you get the idiots who do the equivalent of shining lasers into pilots eyes, just for a laugh.

    Unfortunately the rules have to deal with such sociopaths, and responsible users get penalised as a side effect. Such is life (and death).

    1. Indeed. What pisses me off the most is this attitude of the media against drones, like they are some new alien technology. RC airplanes, helicopters with propellers have been around for ages, it’s not like people suddenly started losing eyes because of drones. Heck, you can even lose an eye when playing tennis if you are not careful.
      The media are changing the world for the worst and now with Facebook inside the equation things are even getting worse, just look to the last presidential campaign in the USA! Things were out of hand, it was dumb, it was ridiculous, something out of a TV-show!
      Things are not perfect in Europe either but right now I feel especially proud of being European.

      1. Just remember it is the same media covering elections as they are drones, with the same level of honesty and competence.

        Apparently British and American pollsters also studied at the same school, or at least used the same textbooks.

        And yes, what the media calls drones are basically RC aircraft. Even the BQM-34 drone that I did a project with (added a chaff and flare dispenser prototype) back when I was in the USAF was nothing but a RC jet. I also remember neighbors flying RC airplanes back in the 70’s, for crying out loud. The biggest difference is now we can put real-time cameras on board.

        I think the public perception changes when they added Hellfire missiles. The were no longer cute and cuddly.

  7. So, you to keep something ‘withing sight’ but simultaneously ‘away for people”. Hmm, I guess you should have a cam on it pointing at itself then. And use a robot to launch it.

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