Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2016

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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60 unmanned systems inside   June/July 2016 cles created and maintained by the unmanned industry association AUVSI. "We looked at that database and we've been helping supplement it as we find new infor- mation," said Arterburn, who described the database as very valuable. "We've been using it to analyze various parametrics that kind of define vehicles and their injury potential." He said ASSURE was able to develop a method- ology for extracting drag factors to calculate bet- ter terminal velocities for different vehicles. In the case of drones the dissent isn't necessarily straight down, they concluded, and the collision energy lev- els, therefore, are potentially much lower. "We found that there are many collision sce- narios of those vehicles," he said, "they don't result in complete energy transfer to the human. So just blindly looking at kinetic energy, by just taking the mass of the vehicle and terminal velocity, doesn't properly characterize the collision scenario." The researchers have now entered the model- ing phase, he said, and will be running tests to validate their conclusions. They have test dum- mies and torso models and will be looking at various strike scenarios and how the energy from a drone actually gets transferred to a human. Arterburn said they are trying to refine what are now coarse metrics and hope to have a better understanding of the true severity of collisions over the next few months. That work is being done by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Mississippi State University in conjunction with the University of Alabama at Huntsville Arterburn said both the air-to-air and the air- to-ground teams would like technical data from manufacturers to improve their models and hardware (full UAS platforms and components) to use in the tests. In particular they are interest- ed in UAS with different design characteristics. "Many of the different designs—some have rotors above, some have them below the body, some of them do a lot of different things—we re- ally can't look at those dynamics and understand them very well without having physical vehicles or the technical support of the companies." The Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) is comprised of twenty-two of the world's leading research institutions and more than a hundred leading industry/government partners. REDUCING ROTOR BLADE CUTS Researchers are looking at ways to reduce cuts from the fast- spinning rotor blades providing lift for many of the unmanned industry's most popular drones. "Laceration injuries due to propellers is compelling throughout the (rotorcraft) community," said David Arterburn, director of the Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Arterburn is one of the researchers with ASSURE, a consortium of 22 universities comprising the Federal Aviation Administration's Center for Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. He and his colleagues are looking at potential standards for blades and blade guards as a way to reduce risks. "There are blade guards out there right now that actually don't," he said, "While they protect you from one angle, if installed improperly, they can actually create even more severe injury because they draw a person's arm into the rotor blade." There is potential for the new blade guards to be more than just protective. ASSURE is working on ways they could also enhance vehicle performance. "We're trying to be good stewards and inform the FAA while at the same time growing the industry and making sure that many of the safety recommendations can be implemented in a way that is of beneft to the commercial community and industry manufacturers." Arterburn hopes to submit recommendations by the end of September.

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