One of the more onerous rules restricting drone flights — the one forbidding UAVs from taking to the air over populated areas — could be a little easier to deal with, now that the industry is developing parachutes that keep malfunctioning drones from dropping heavily out of the sky. Alaska-based Indemnis says it has the first such product.

The Indemnis Nexus parachute for the DJI Inspire 2 drone has been proved compliant with new international standards for drone parachutes after a series of tests at the New York Unmanned Aerial Systems Test Site in Rome, NY, DJI said today. If the Nexus system detects that a drone is tilting abnormally or falling, it deploys a parachute within 30ms through a tube that protects the parachute lines from the drone’s body and rotors.

Indemnis partnered with DJI in 2017 on the development of a parachute system that deploys immediately in the case of flight anomalies. While a pedestrian could still get bonked on the head by a wayward drone, the potential for serious injury is greatly reduced by the parachute system.

Drone operators are still prohibited from flying directly above people, but DJI noted that professional drone pilots can seek a waiver if they can show that they are taking appropriate safety measures. The Indemnis system is designed to fulfill that requirement.

“As the FAA works to open more of America’s skies to beneficial drone uses, the certification of the Nexus system on DJI’s platform is a significant step toward making flight over people and crowds routine, expanding the scope of vital applications such as search and rescue, newsgathering, and public safety,” said DJI VP of Policy & Legal Affairs Brendan Schulman in a prepared statement.

The Nexus was validated for compliance with the ASTM International F3322-18 Standard Specification for Small Unmanned Aircraft System Parachutes, which was developed in collaboration between DJI, Indemnis, the FAA and others in the industry, DJI said. The standard was finalized late in 2018.

The Nexus is available now for the Inspire 2 and is planned to be adapted to the Matrice 200 and Matrice 600 drones later this year.