Drones fly at Ford and stir up drama

Photo credit: VICTOR GALVAN

DETROIT -- There’s drone drama at the Detroit auto show.

Ford Motor Co. is delivering toy models of its F-150 Raptor by drone, but the city’s fire marshal briefly grounded the stunt. And after some people didn’t like the drone flying throughout the stand, its flight path was restricted to an area in which no one would be underneath.

Meanwhile, General Motors put in a last-minute request with show organizers to shoot video of the new Chevrolet stand by drone on Wednesday morning and was awaiting a decision this afternoon.

Chevy spokesman Craig Daitch said he intends to share the video with the brand’s followers on social media. He said the filming would be done before the show opens for the day, so no one would be underneath the drone.

“We value the safety of auto show patrons,” Daitch said.

GauravJit Singh, CEO of DroneCast, a Philadelphia marketing company that Ford hired, said he values safety, too -- as well as the just-unveiled Fort GT supercar that he discovered would be under the route he originally planned to fly.

So he changed those plans because “our insurance isn’t enough for that car.” Then, after the fire marshal halted Raptor-by-drone deliveries for about an hour on Monday, the drone was given exclusive airspace in the center of Ford’s stand on Tuesday.

Ford had to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to use the drone indoors around people.

Singh said his company does such marketing stunts for clients often, and local authorities are just starting to figure out how to handle drones. The fire marshal’s concerns were unexpected but not surprising, he said, given that Ford first contacted him only a week ago, leaving little time to ensure all the necessary permissions had been received.

But Singh got the matter sorted out quickly, and toy Raptors were soon flying again.

#Ford is delivering mini Raptor F-150s via drone. Sounds like a bee hive over here. #Naias #detroitautoshow #technology

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