Public Safety

$300,000 drone smashes into Johnson County lawn

A Johnson County squad car. (file photo)
A Johnson County squad car. (file photo)

IOWA CITY — A remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicle crashed Wednesday afternoon, causing damage to a lawn and ornaments.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said deputies and the Hills Fire Department responded to a UAV crash around 1 p.m. in the area of Bayridge Drive not far from the Johnson County Fairgrounds.

Authorities said the 18-foot, 100-pound vehicle was valued at $300,000. The damage to the lawn and ornaments was estimated at $100. The UAV was a total loss.

Lt. Randy Lamm said the UAV was registered to the University of Iowa.

“They were testing a camera system,” Lamm said in an email. “The purpose of the flight was a research project regarding autonomy and optical imaging.”

The vehicle had been piloted from the nearby Iowa City Airport when it experienced an equipment malfunction. While the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are aware of the crash, crashes involving vehicles under 300 pounds are not investigated by the FAA, the sheriff’s office said.

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