Inside Unmanned Systems

FEB-MAR 2017

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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57 unmanned systems inside February/March 2017 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. can understand the probability of an injury and whether that injury will be severe or mild. So far they've tested a small sample of drones, Rowson said, but would like to ex- pand in future experiments. Different types of drones can interact with the head differently, and a variety of factors also contribute to in- jury outcome, including how fast the UAS is moving and if the blades are guarded or not. "Our initial work has been with kinetic ener- gy transfer," Blanks said. "We also want to re- peat the same exact hit over and over through drop tests, which we should be completing in the coming months." The Challenges With any kind of injury analysis, researchers need to take the right measurements many different ways, Rowson said. There are several scenarios that can happen when a drone inter- acts with the head, so developing a robust sys- tem that measures all those different aspects is key. Striking the dummy's head in a controlled manner also represents a challenge, especially when trying to replicate what would happen in the real world. "We also need to prove any mitigants we come up with are reliable," Blanks said. "Is a parachute going to work every time and at what altitude will it deploy, for example. There are a lot of variables and coming up with feasible, re- liable solutions is one of the biggest challenges." And mitigating risk is different for every drone depending on its design and other fac- tors, Rowson said. So an intervention you implement on one platform might not be as effective on another. "Once we understand the risk and the mechanics, we can integrate different de- sign aspects that reduce risk," Rowson said. "That's the same approach we take with au- tomobiles and with sports helmets." Looking Ahead The team will continue research efforts in the coming months and potentially even the coming years. Rowson would like to eventu- ally expand the research to include larger UAS and other areas of the body besides the head and neck. "This research is part of doing our due diligence and making sure there's not some unacceptable risk to people," Rowson said. "Drones are going to become more and more common and we need to understand the po- tential risks of them interacting with people. There will be accidents at some point and we need to know how to manage them." John Coggin, chief engineer at the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, inspects the aircraft after the impact as members of the injury biomechanics research team look on. Steven Rowson, left, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics, and graduate student Eamon Campolettano set up high-speed cameras that will record the aircraft's impact with the dummy.

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