Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.
A drone crashes just behind Marcel Hirscher.
CBS News.com screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET
We marvel in new gadgets and often don’t think of what might happen when they go wrong.
But they do, sometimes with horrible consequences.
Ask Austrian skiing star Marcel Hirscher. Viewing video of his slalom during the World Cup event in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, must have been quite chilling for him.
In a press conference after his descent reported by the New York Times, Hirscher said of a something he’d sensed immediately behind him: “I didn’t know what it was, but I felt something. I thought it was a course worker behind me, or a gate.”
What it was was a substantial camera drone that crashed just feet from his hurtling body. It belonged to the broadcast partner of the event, Infront Sports and Media.
“He did not follow our instructions,” men’s race director Markus Waldner said of the drone operator, according to the Times. “He had to fly outside of the racetrack and follow the racer from a 15-meter distance. Then there would have been a margin and nothing could have happened.”
The International Ski Federation announced that camera drones are now banned from all its events.
Thankfully, Hirscher had a lucky escape. It’s unclear, however, why the drone suddenly crashed. Infront Sports and Media didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
“You don’t want to think about what could have happened when 10 kilograms’ (22 pounds) are coming down 20 meters (65 feet),” said Hirscher, who actually came second. “That would have been a very serious, bad injury. There are a lot of cool things nowadays. But you have to guarantee the safety and that was just insane.”
But no flying object has guaranteed safety. Something can go wrong, which is why some countries such as Austria and Switzerland forbid the flying of drones above people.
In the US, the FAA’s drone guidelines say that they should never be flown “near people or stadiums.”
Controlling these remote-controlled devices is, however, not so easy. A Kentucky man chosen to shoot one down over his house, an action for which he was exonerated by a judge.
It’s clear, though, that the skiing drone was far too close for comfort and might well have caused serious harm.
Sometimes, the shot just isn’t worth getting.
That’s not safe.