What happens when a drone hits us in the head?

An 18-month study looked at the mechanism and what would happen if the drone crashed into our head and face.

In the not too distant future, drones may appear more in the sky to help people deliver goods or take photos and videos from the air. However, drones can also pose a potential danger to people if they run out of batteries or fail midway. So what can happen when a drone collides with a human?

That is also the question that the UAS Alliance for System Safety (USA) through the research program Research Excellence (ASSURE) wants to find the answer to. After more than 18 months, a research team led by scientists from the University of Alabama (Hunstville, USA), Mississippi State University, the National Institute of Aeronautics at Mississippi State University and a number of other organizations have found answer.

According to Popular Mechanics , in ASSURE’s Phase II Ground Collision study, scientists looked at potential injuries that could arise from collisions between small drone systems (drone) and humans. The researchers not only wanted to see what could have caused the injury, but also wanted to develop safety methods and make recommendations for the US government.

What happens when a drone hits us in the head?
Piloting a drone into a human’s head from many directions

What happens when a drone hits us in the head?
Scientists use a doll with a reconstructed head region that looks exactly like a human

As well as making recommendations to the US government, the team also wants to create global safety standards.

It sounds scary, but David Arterburn, a member of the research team found that drones are mainly made of plastic that is flexible, elastic and flexible. Contrary to what most people think, drones tend to absorb a significant amount of impact upon impact.

“There’s a common misconception that every drone is a rock, so when it hits you, it’ll hurt you like a rock,” says David Arterburn.

The team conducted 512 crash tests and simulations using 16 popular consumer drones such as the DJI Phantom and Mavic Pro, and drones that carry objects with different payloads such as batteries, wooden blocks with weights from 0.3kg to 5.99kg. The scientists then plunged the drone into a model of a human head to test the impact of the drone when it collided with a human head.

What happens when a drone hits us in the head?
Drone crash test from diagonal direction

What happens when a drone hits us in the head?
Drone stabbed in the face

What happens when a drone hits us in the head?
Drone stabbing from the top

The most common injuries are lacerations, cuts and bruises on the face. Arterburn said that the risk of facial injury from drones is not high, but if it happens, it is very dangerous. When the drone hits the face at high speed, if unfortunately the propeller net hits the eye, it can cause blindness and damage the cornea.

Therefore, the research team wants to recommend that the US government make regulations on installing more propeller guards on drones to reduce the danger to the eyes.

ASSURE CEO Stephen P. Luxion said that the team tested the drones to collide at many different angles and directions to ensure the test assessed all the dangers of the drone and was the most accurate. shop.

However, he says researchers have not yet been able to calculate all the variables at impact. Because even a small change in the direction of rotation of the drone at impact can lead to various injuries. Therefore, how to keep the drone balanced even when falling is also a quite headache for drone manufacturers.

Luxion said that injuries from drone collisions do not have too bad consequences if the impact force is not strong enough, especially in testing. In general, for a drone to be fatal to a person, it needs to be large enough and the force of the impact on the human body is strong enough and in fact there are not many such drones in the sky so far. Therefore, the risk of death caused by drones remains a rare case.

You might think that the worst-case scenario is that you will be hit by the propeller, but the researchers found that the drones tend to rotate the propeller outwards before impact. The most dangerous is when the position between the two propellers collides with the human body because it can cause the highest damage. Drones have a tendency to do somersaults when they lose control, and if an upside-down drone hits you, the injury can be more serious than you think.

Therefore, how to orient the drone during a fall or learn to avoid, protect yourself when the drone collides, and at the same time follow the rules of safe drone control will be the best way to protect yourself. you and others from danger from the air.