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In this setting, most if not everyone has one or more personal drones. Think robotic hummingbird: same mode of flight, same speed and maneuverability, but no lungs. Instead of internal organs, they have your general robot innards: circuit boards, battery, motors, &c. What effect would tear gas or other fine particulates (other crowd-control gases, smoke, dust) have on these drones? Would it impair their ability to fly?

I am specifically asking if fine particulates in the air would effect the flight mechanism. For the sake of this question, you may assume that the drones are sealed such that no gas or particulates can enter.

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    $\begingroup$ Try Googling "Effect of smoke on drones". Most of the early hits are about how drones have an effect on firefighting operations. If it affected the drones, they wouldn't be able to fly in forest fire areas and block aerial operations by firefighters. $\endgroup$ Sep 7 '20 at 5:42
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No way: Aircraft and drones fly through smoke and fog all the time.

Clinging particles (moisture that causes icing) is a concern only because it changes the shape of the static wing, reducing lift. However, that's not a concern on your ornithopter which uses a flapping wing.

Aircraft generally avoid smoke, soot, and ash because it damages their engines (clogs air intakes, erodes turbine blades). Since your ornithoper is battery powered and flapping, neither apply.

Of course, your robot might crash into something. That's the chief danger of flying blind, and why it's generally not recommended.

Um, after encountering a cloud of tear gas, the drone will likely need to be washed off before it's allowed indoors. Many tearing and pepper agents do cling (but they don't deform the wing).

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The only way a gas or vapor could harm the operation of a drone would be if that substance would be physically or chemically reactive toward the material making up the drone. The same way as inhaling vapors of sulfuric acid would burn someone's lungs, or sandblasting a metal surface would scour it clean.

Tear gases are made of molecules designed to be irritating for the inhalers, but not chemically or physically aggressive for any other material. And I doubt any crowd controlling force would use chlorine with this scope.

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