Zacc Dukowitz

Skydio Under Fire for Drone Video Shot in Yellowstone National Park

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Drone manufacturer Skydio is under fire for promoting a video they made of a rollerblader using their R1 selfie drone as he rolls along the West Thumb Geyser Basin boardwalk at Yellowstone National Park.

The video appeared on Instagram with the caption “Thermal tour a la rollerblade” and was viewed over 10,000 times in one week before it was taken down due to complaints.

Did Skydio know it was breaking the law by shooting the video, or was the whole thing a big mistake? Read today's post for our thoughts and for a short overview of illegal drone use at Yellowstone, and make sure to comment here to share your own opinions.

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This article touches on many aspects:

  1. should it be legal to fly in National Parks?
  2. why are people not equally outraged that he’s illegally rollerblading?
  3. Did Skydio intentially try to mislead the public for commercial gain?
  4. did they know they were breaking the law?

any and all of these questions could be its own thread.  Unfortunately there’s no remedy to change the regulations regarding national parks.  It could be argued why does the Park Service get to regulate airspace when the FAA prohibits State and local law enforcement from doing the same?  

The fact that people had to move out of the rollaerblader’s way made more of an impression on me than the fact it was shot from a drone.  Aside from the law they were just rude.  The trouble with flying here is that if they would have crashed it would have been difficult, if not impossible to recover the drone.  Although I think the environmental aspect is way over blown.  It’s illegal to throw things in the geysers yet people throw coins in for luck all the time.  

Skydio most likely knew that it was illegal to both fly and rollerblade there.  They didn’t seem to care.  It’s unfortunate, it was a great shot, it certainly inspired me to want to visit. But because of narrow minded bureaucrats and inconsiderate operators the ban on flying in National Parks will never be lifted nor will it prevent this sort of thing from happening.  

It’s also unfortunate that there is a blanket ban on flying in National Parks. The irony is that if the parks had been so tightly regulated in the 1950s -1970s Ansel Adams would not have been allowed to photograph Yosemite and influence public opinion to the degree that many of the National Parks might not exist today. 

 

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Somebody knew they were breaking the law but I doubt Skydio had anything to do with it, other than hosting a site for customers to upload videos. The “Iceland” video looks like a user upload. Unlike DJI drones that geotag videos, the R1 doesn’t do that. Technically, you don’t fly the R1 other than launching it. It totally flies itself while avoiding obstacles. The user has control of height (64’ max), distance from subject, filming direction and some special automated maneuvers.  I don’t speak for the company in any way. I’ve owned an R1 practically since the beginning of retail sales and I like that it keeps evolving. But can you blame a company for its user’s foibles? I don’t think so in this instance. 

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Kind of depends on who shot it and if it was posted on Skydio’s Instagram. 

I might have made an incorrect assumption that it was produced and posted as part of a Skydio campaign. If not, then they probably don’t need to worry.  

Aren’t they a French company?  If they mistakenly posted this to their Instagram not knowing the location, not sure why they should have to take it down.  

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On 3/30/2019 at 11:25 AM, Av8Chuck said:

He could run over someone was more dangerous in reality.  Drone could harm the geysers though...

 

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In this story you mentioned that only a total of $1000 in fines were paid out.  I am almost positive that is inaccurate when in fact the average fine for a single incident is $1000.  I should know, I had to pay it.  This video tells the story. -

 

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That sucks that you went through that.  I have had a similar experience but people should keep in mind a couple of things.  Your innocent until proven guilty. They could not prosecute you on on the evidence of the YouTube video, but they could on the fact that you incriminated yourself by answering the questions on the phone.  

 

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