Drones have been hitting a few things recently; the headlines, the photography world by storm, and now dummies. Test dummies.
The clever engineers at Virginia Tech – home to the world’s largest injury biomechanics programme – are carrying out research to check out what sort of damage a drone could dish out on a human.
‘To help the industry make safer drones, that is the goal of the research’ says John Coggin, Chief Engineer at Virginia Tech.
Oh it looks like fun research.
In the video, the scene is set as engineers (with satisfied smiles) hurtle various drones at top speeds square into the head of the test dummy – the same dummy type used for car safety tests over the last three decades.
‘What’s the risk of injury from a drone when impact occurs that causes tissue damage? It’s a serious brain injury or fatal event’, says Stefan Duma, Professor of Engineering at Virginia Tech.
That day when a drone causes serious harm to someone is what is trying to be avoided.
It is research like this at Virginia Tech that could lead to significant changes in the design of drones, in order to minimise the potential harm caused in a collision.
New designs could include an internal parachute that opens automatically for when a drone falls rapidly from the sky. Other likely changes are blades with added padding or protectors and the use of a strong yet frangible material for construction.
What with impending new laws about the legal use of drones (including proposed DVLA-style exams for operators) and potential safety improvements in the design, we may just get to enjoy all the amazing videos and photos taken from our skies, without the occasional bad headline to accompany them.
Safer drones. Better drivers.
You can watch the video from Virginia Tech of high-speed drone collisions here. Enjoy!