While mapping a shoreline for erosion in Michigan, a drone operated by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) was sent hurling to the bottom of Lake Michigan after an attack from a bald eagle, one of the Great Lakes State's many majestic birds.
The incident happened near the state's Upper Peninsula last month, with the eagle presumabily wanting to put a stop to the EGLE drone's envasion of air space. As reported by WWJ Newsradio 950:
The drone's pilot, Hunter King, said he'd completed about seven minutes of the mapping flight when satellite reception became spotty and the drone began twirling furiously.
"It was like a really bad rollercoaster ride," said King.
When he looked up at the video screen the drone was gone, and an eagle was flying away. A nearby couple, whose pastimes include watching the local eagles attack seagulls and other birds, later confirmed they saw the eagle strike something but were surprised to learn it was a drone.
The $950 Phantom 4 Pro Advanced drone used for the job was later recovered about 150 feet off shore. That particular drone model has reportedly been discontinued, (issues with eagles unrelated), and a similar model of drone will be used to complete the job, according to EGLE.
As drone technology continues to advance in 2020, legal and regulatory guidelines will still lag. However, the maturity of new drone technologies and the growth of many new drone use cases will provide impetus for regulators and legal experts to issue more guidelines.
The drone market is projected to grow to $43 billion by 2024 — a compound growth rate of around 20.5 percent, according to ResearchandMarkets.com. This particular incident aside, the growth of the drone market is being fueled by a number of successful use cases in energy, transportation, and other industry sectors.