Annoyed by its buzzing noise, Dutch vacationer fires multiple shots at high-end DJI drone

dji drone shot

A $13,000 DJI M300 RTK drone was fired upon multiples time by a vacationer last week while the aircraft was inspecting critical infrastructure in the Netherlands. UAS service provider Zero Gravity Drone, which was conducting the inspection, says it has filed a complaint with the local police.

According to Zero Gravity Drone, a vacationer — who was staying some 200m from where the drone was flying — fired several shots from an air pistol at the company’s M300 RTK drone until one of the bullets hit the aircraft.

Incidentally, the crew didn’t notice that something was amiss while the drone was airborne, but once it had landed successfully, the man with an air pistol confronted the Zero Gravity Drone team directly.

As an altercation ensued, the man indicated he had experienced noise pollution from the drone. When asked whether he did not experience the same problem with other low-flying aircraft or paragliders, the man said he would like to shoot them as well.

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“Without realizing the potentially dangerous situation he could have caused, he laconically admitted to aiming a few times until he managed to hit the drone,” says Boris Guntenaar, cofounder and CEO at Zero Gravity Drone. “We were dumbfounded.”

The drone company then called the police who identified the vacationer and registered a complaint against him.

The company cofounders have now reached out to the wider drone community through a LinkedIn blog post. They say they want to understand what can be done to prevent a similar incident in the future. This discussion is important because the drone was flying legally well within the framework of the European civil aviation regulations.

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In addition, the inspection team had called upon the houses in the vicinity (less than 100m) of the flying location to inform them about the upcoming drone flights and their purpose. But the alleged culprit, in this case, was located beyond the 100m radius that Zero Gravity Drone had ensured to secure.

Here’s Boris Guntenaar and Robbert Kuijper:

The drone world is new. People find new things scary and resist them. This is not unique to us in the drone world. When the first cars hit the road, people thought they were moving explosives. When PhotoShop techniques came along, people thought they could never trust photos again. Radical innovation scares people. Change is scary. But does this mean you have to take the law into your own hands? We hope not, and certainly not in a constitutional state such as the Netherlands.

The duo points out that in the worst-case scenario, the DJI drone weighing approximately 7 kg at the time of takeoff, could have been shot out of the sky, crashing into a dry forest area nearby. Even if you were to discount the economic damage the drone service provider would have had to endure, the LiPo batteries in the aircraft could very well have ignited a forest fire upon crashing.

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The DJI M300 RTK drone that was shot upon.

“It particularly annoys us that something like this is happening we are trying to make work safer and more efficient with drone technology,” say Boris and Robbert. “By using aerial platforms, we prevent pollution that comes from driving around. Inspectors working in risky locations now only have to stay there for an hour instead of a day. With all these advantages, where is the social resistance to drones coming from?” 

What now? Zero Gravity Drone cofounders say they are counting on the police to do the right thing, while adding:

We also think that drone operators in the Netherlands should join forces and look together for solutions for the gigantic privacy and social acceptance issues that we deal with on a daily basis. 

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