A world champion skier had a lucky escape after a drone dropped out of the sky and smashed to the ground, narrowly missing him and what could have been a serious injury. Austrian Marcel Hirscher was competing in a slalom race in Italy when the camera drone fell heavily to the ground right behind him.
The crashing drone, which looked like a quadcopter before it broke into pieces, was part of the broadcast camera crew and is intended to carry heavy equipment. Professional drones like these can easily tip the scales at almost 15kg. Why the drone fell from the sky is unknown but anything from pilot error, malfunction or even running out of battery could be to blame.
Hirscher was not aware of his close-call as he sped downhill. The 26-year-old skier spoke afterwards of his shock to the Associated Press: "This is horrible," Hirscher said. "This can never happen again. This can be a serious injury.''
Drones have come under scrutiny this year as more and more commercial and enthusiast owners are taking to the skies and more accidents continue to occur. A toddler in the UK lost an eye after an incident with a drone, and hobbyists have crashed into iconic buildings causing damage.
Flying regulations have been imposed in the UK and the US stating unmanned aircraft cannot be flown above 400ft, must be within the line-of-sight and if fitted with a camera must not be flown within 150m of a congested area. Commercial users, such as the one involved in this incident, would require permission to fly.
In Japan, in an attempt to combat illegal drone use authorities have developed a drone-catcher drone which dangles a net below to snag any unauthorised unmanned aircraft.
If you're wondering, Hirscher came second in the race but still holds the lead overall.