Drones emerge as a popular holiday gift

Santa's sleigh isn't the only thing flying this holiday season.

Drones -- flying devices that often carry cameras and can be navigated remotely by smartphones or controllers -- have "taken off" as popular gifts as novices have become just as interested in the devices as serious hobbyists. The demand has grown as the industry and government are working together to address safety concerns.

Best Buy expanded its selection from one last year to eight different models in stores and five more online because of rising demand. BHPhoto.com now offers 140-plus models online that range from $50.99 to $6500. And Amazon says the Parrot's $160 MiniDrone Rolling Spider and DJI's Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter, which costs about $1,000, have been "popular sellers."

Indeed, safety concerns have grown with the popularity of drones. In Belgrade in October, a drone carrying a banner over a soccer field ignited an on-field brawl. A plane in London's Heathrow airport had a near-miss with a drone in December. And in October an Oregon man pleaded guilty to violating a ban on drones in national parks by flying a one near bison and over Yellowstone's Midway Geyser Basin.

Drone makers say they have put safety measures in place to prevent accident. All drones are recommended for use in large open areas, not near crowded spaces.

All three of the biggest personal drone makers -- DJI, Parrot and 3D Robotics -- have formed a coalition to lobby the FAA to help develop standards for personal drone use.

Additionally, on Monday, drone industry officials said they are teaming up with the US government and model aircraft hobbyists to launch a safety campaign. The campaign includes a website -- http://www.knowbeforeyoufly.com -- which advises both drone operators of FAA regulations and how to fly their unmanned aircraft safely.

The industry also said it plans to distribute safety pamphlets at industry events and work with drone manufacturers to make sure safety information is enclosed inside the packaging of new drones.
 Source : The Times Of India