Let’s start by talking about the event staff. You and your team, including the personnel discussed below, play a key role in ensuring the safety of operations and communication is a vital part of this. Part of communicating effectively on an event site is assigning roles and responsibilities to staff members ahead of time. Below are suggested event staff roles, but you may want to add in your own roles depending on the size and other unique aspects of your event. Please keep in mind that it is also critical for the people in each role to be qualified to perform their responsibilities.
Has overall responsible and command of the event. It can be the same person who organized the event, or it can be someone who is educated on the workings, logistics, timeline, and protocols of the event. The Race Director oversees all communication, makes all final decisions, and should be in charge in the case of an emergency.
Oversees a group of “Drone Handlers” (description below) as well as all drone safety. For example, the Drone Manager should ensure drones are only worked on when propellers have been removed.
Retrieves downed drones, disables batteries, and returns to a designated area. They are the only people at the event permitted to touch a battery or a drone that is powered on. Drone Handlers must be well briefed on the drone retrieval process. All Drone Handlers report into the Drone Manager.
We suggest having a comparable number of Drone Handlers to drones. Since battery lifetime necessitates a fast retrieval, having the right number of Drone Handlers makes the role much safer. This role is extremely important. Restricting contact with powered drones to a small number of highly trained individuals is one the most important safety steps you can take.
Oversees a functional area of the event, such as the Spectator Viewing Area, Food & Beverage, or Merchandise.
All of these roles are an important part of organizing a safe drone racing event. Let’s run through a quick scenario to demonstrate the roles in action, and how these roles, plus the principles of Planning, Procedure, and Production, work together to improve safety.
A drone crashes near the Spectator Viewing Area. The Spectator Manager should then notify the Drone Manager. If the course is open, the Drone Manager will send out a Drone Handler to retrieve the downed drone. If the course is closed, the Drone Manager will wait until the Race Director has signaled an open course, and will then send out a Drone Handler.
Why is this the safest option? Here are a few reasons.
- The Spectator Manager can continue to focus on safety of the spectators, and does not need to leave his/her post to address the drone. She/he is ready and able to take further steps to ensure audience safety (e.g. moving or evacuating the audience) should it become necessary.
- The Drone Manager knows when it is safe to deploy the Drone Handlers because of the use of the status system.
- All people on site, including the audience and other event staff, have been briefed not to handle drones. Only the Drone Handlers, who have been trained on drone retrieval safety, are equipped to safely find and pick up the fallen drone.