Company uses Griffiss to validate drone-parachute system


An Alaska company that makes a parachute system for drones came to Rome to conduct federal validation tests for its product. And it worked.

Indemnis sent a team to the New York Unmanned Aerial Systems Test Site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome in December to demonstrate its Nexus parachute system, according to a news release issued Wednesday by DJI, the Shenzhen, China-based maker of a line of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, and NUAIR.

DJI has lines of drones for use in photography, film making, law enforcement, construction, agriculture and consumers.

The companies began working together two years ago to develop a system that can deploy instantly if a drone gets into trouble.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration prohibits most drone operations over people, but operators can get a waiver if they show they have safety measures.

Indemis, based in Anchorage, says the challenge is that rotor-based drones that malfunction typically begin rotating violently, entangling most parachute cords.

Several companies make drone parachute systems, many using some sort of mechanism to shoot the parachute away from the spinning rotors, such as compressed air or a coiled spring.

Some larger devices automatically shut down the rotors.

The company’s Nexus, however, fires through a tube of material that rapidly inflates yet is rigid enough to protect the cord from the rotors.

It’s triggered automatically if the drone suddenly begins tilting abnormally or falling. The company says Nexus deploys the parachute within 30 milliseconds at 90 mph through the tube.

The system was put through 45 tests across five failure scenarios during four days of testing at Griffiss, according to the companies. The tests validated that the Nexus on the Inspire 2 drone made by DJI meets an international industry standard for drone parachutes, according to a press release from NUAIR.

“As the FAA works to open more of America’s skies to beneficial drone uses, the certification of the Nexus system on DJI’s platform is a significant step toward making flight over people and crowds routine, expanding the scope of vital applications such as search and rescue, newsgathering, and public safety,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs.

Such testing and validation are functions Oneida County is pushing for Griffiss, a former Air Force base. It’s one of seven FAA-designated test sites across the country.

“The NUAIR Alliance is proud to have been a part of helping Indemnis’ transformative technology enter real-world deployment into the National Airspace System on a leading DJI drone platform,” said retired Air Force Major General Marke “Hoot” Gibson, president and CEO of NUAIR Alliance, who was previously the FAA’s senior advisor on drones. “New York is committed to generating growth, jobs and innovation through smart drone investments, and Indemnis’ successful testing process shows how New York plays a key role in accelerating this exciting technology.”


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