Malfunction communication of drones


As of the last decade, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, are seeing increased usage in various real-world applications. The delivery industry among others involves operating drones in urban areas. In such situations, the potential of drones malfunctioning midflight and falling on humans is a statistically inevitable consequence of increasing human-drone interactions (HDIs). This paper describes design suggestions and implications of using an alert system to warn humans of the aforementioned situation. A mockup drone and “drone malfunction communication system” were used to evaluate light- and sound-based alerts and come to these conclusions.

The overall objective of our study is to inform the effective design of drone systems to improve integration into society. In the event of a malfunctioning drone, it is critical to inform those nearby to prevent any accidents or injuries. Communication is key in such situations, and our study aims to look at the most effective methods to communicate this information.

This project explores the topic through the research question ‘How can delivery drones communicate malfunctions in urban areas to human bystanders, with the goal of preventing injuries and casualties through awareness of its presence?’ The main focus of the research is in the medical delivery sector, as a continuation of our supporting expert and client N. Lingam’s own work in the same field. The size of the research prototype and alert types, among other factors, were thus influenced by this specialization. We find that establishing a baseline for warning of drone-related emergencies, similar to those of law enforcement and emergency medical services, could help stakeholders realize better integration and acceptance with the public.


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