Delaware County Products Liability Lawyers Discuss Drone Safety
Small and mid-size commercial drones (those weighing three to fifty pounds) can be deadly when they strike a person’s head or body. Recently, tests were conducted at Virginia Tech—a joint effort between an FAA-approved drone test site and Virginia Tech’s school for technology and applied science. The tests involved crashing drones into a test dummy named “Hank.” These tests might prove critical in determining whether regulators expand the authorized use of commercial drones.
During 2016 alone, reports of errant drone flights rose more than 50 percent compared to the previous year. Many of these involved crashes or near misses with planes or helicopters. The FAA recently loosened restrictions on drones flown for hire. However, drones still cannot be legally flown over people or for long distances in most circumstances. There has been talk that the FAA plans to unveil a proposal allowing drones to be flown closer to people, but safety and security issues have delayed the agency from moving forward.
Drone Crash Tests
The crash dummy tests were not requested by the FAA, but researchers plan to provide the results of their study to the organization. “Hank” was dressed in a Virginia Tech engineering t-shirt, and equipped with 15 sensors from his shoulders up. The dummy was placed on an indoor football field, and drones were flown into the dummy’s face to assess damage.
The Director of the Virginia Tech government-approved drone test center has said that researchers need to understand at what level does drone injury become fatal. By running these tests, officials can determine the threshold weight and design properties under which flights would be safe. Corporate entities may have an interest in flying drones that weigh up to 55 pounds for making deliveries and other business uses. These trips can be very dangerous if the drones go off course or run out of batteries.
Although much work and study needs to happen before such heavy drones become commonplace, there is some good news relating to small consumer drones. According to a researcher at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, tiny plastic drones used for recreational purposes tend to break apart when they strike a human head, lessening the impact and chance of injury. Tests were conducted at Wichita State University in Kansas on these smaller size drones. One of the world’s largest drone manufacturers has released a similar study finding that drones weighing up to 4.9 pounds pose a minimal risk to people.
One proven way to reduce the risk of injury is to enclose drone propellers in a soft material so that they do not cut bystanders on impact. Another possible safety option is ensuring drones are reliable, and fitting them with parachutes in case their batteries die mid-flight.
Delaware County Products Liability Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Victims of Drone Accidents
If you or a loved one has been injured by a small aircraft or flying device such as a drone, we can help you locate the responsible party, hold them accountable, and recover compensation for your injuries. To schedule a consultation, call the Delaware County products liability lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC today at 215-569-8488 or contact us online. We have offices to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, including those Philadelphia, Delaware County, Chester County.