Microsoft has released a free, open source simulator to help engineers test drones in a photo-realistic environment. The AirSim, as it's called, offers a space for developers to run simulated flights again and again, gathering data and seeing how a drone's onboard perception systems react to a complex environment. Naturally, that's a lot cheaper and less time-consuming than studying repeated real-world drone crashes.

The cross-platform software supports manual or programmatically controlled flights, and thanks to its open source nature, data gathered from test flights can be easily used to create new algorithms to guide drone operation. There you have it – hundreds of simulated drone crashes aren't just amusing to watch, they may be actually useful.

The code is available for download via GitHub.