What occurs if a drone hits a windshield?

Virginia Tech University researchers working with State Farm Insurance and ParaZero drone security systems have finally answered the question of what happens when a drone hits a windshield.

The data collected in the study resulted in State Farm® receiving an FAA exemption for flying over moving vehicles in late 2019, before the FAA rule for flying over people and moving vehicles, approved in late 2020, was published.

Regulatory authorities and municipalities have feared that a drone crashing into a windshield could lead to broken glass, which at best makes it impossible for the driver to see the people in the car and, in the worst case, injures them. However, in Virginia Tech’s Impact Labs, the researchers were able to conclusively demonstrate that drones can be flown safely over cars when the cars are traveling at a speed of less than 100 km / h.

Using a drone equipped with a ParaZero drone safety system that includes a parachute to limit the speed of the fall, the researchers were able to show “that a small parachute drone will not damage a car that is driving at average speed limits in the city According to a State Farm press release.

“The data represents the first known example of direct research into drone-automobile collisions – a unique collaboration between drone specialists from the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP), injury biomechanics experts at the university’s College of Engineering and State Farm. Says Virginia Tech.

Because the demonstration shows that the key differentiator is speed, regulators can define non-hazardous operations. “The narrow gap between a practically flawless windshield and a destroyed windshield has drawn a clear line for low risk scenarios,” the press release said. “The data showed that flights over moving vehicles presented minimal risk as long as the potential relative impact speeds never exceeded 100 km / h.”

The FAA approval to fly over moving vehicles is a significant efficiency gain for State Farm and its customers. Damage investigators can examine multiple houses across streets in a neighborhood. In post-disaster situations where many homes in an area can be damaged, the exemption allows State Farm to quickly assess damage and provide assistance to homeowners.

Miriam McNabb is Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Author of over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space, Miriam is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high-tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For advice or writing in the drone industry, email Miriam.

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