Accident & Failure Investigation

How Can We Reconstruct a Drone Crash?

Flying remote controlled drone with camera

Using expert accident analysis to determine the cause of a crash

After a UAV ("drone") crashed during a party, injuring a child and her relative, Exponent aviation experts were called in to determine whether the drone had malfunctioned or whether the accident was the result of user error.

The Challenge

A man was filming his pool party with an advanced aerial drone when it crashed near some guests, injuring a child and her relative. Litigation ensued with claims alleging that design defects caused the drone to drift and then descend into the water. There were also allegations that the drone's lack of collision avoidance technology and other safety features contributed to the incident. Faced with lawsuits from both the injured parties and the drone operator, our client, a drone manufacturer, asked Exponent to investigate the cause of the accident.

EXPONENT's Multidisciplinary Solution

A multidisciplinary team of Exponent scientists and engineers worked together to review recorded flight data, perform flight tests, and evaluate safety systems. 

Exponent's Impact

Exponent determined that there was no defect in the control system or safety systems that precipitated the drone crash and that the cause of the accident was operator error. Exponent's work helped our client to settle the claim and shed light on drone safety and piloting.