Don't worry. They're using crash test dummies. By using biomechanics and crash test science, Virginia Tech is hoping to help develop regulations that would allow drones to be flown over people in the future.
Currently, drones are generally not allowed to operate over people without a special waiver for fear of the injury they may cause in a crash. However, through careful research into the dynamics and biomechanics of human/drone collisions, Virginia Tech scientists are hoping to enable regulations that would greatly expand the potential uses for drones: not just taking photos and video over people, but things like package delivery as well.
Mark Blanks, the director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, notes:
The majority of applications would be much more effective if they weren’t restricted from operating over people, but you have to demonstrate that it can be done safely. The risk of injury is very low, particularly with small aircraft. This research can mitigate those risks further. And we have the world’s best team doing it.
The idea is to develop acceptable risk thresholds from which regulations could be created that would allow certain aircraft to fly over people in certain situations. The lab is the same that developed concussion risk ratings for football and hockey helmets and is hoping to now extend their work to other sports in addition to drones with research that will guide policy-making and lead to safer products.
The Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership has already developed strategies for drone traffic management, safe operation with larger aircraft, flights beyond the visual line of sight rule, and detect and avoid systems. With the potential of drones increasing every day, this is valuable research that will help to further guide their implementation in society.
[via VT News]