Photo credit: Virginia Tech Daily
Virginia Tech’s impact labs wanted to see exactly what would happen when a drone crashes into a car windshield. This lab has already conducted several controlled collisions that have been pivotal to producing safer cars, football helmets, and even toys, so this was an important test to say the least. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulation restricted commercial drone use in urban and suburban areas by prohibiting flying over moving vehicles due to their concern that a drone hitting the windshield of a moving car could obstruct the driver’s view of the road or injure the occupants. Read more for the short 3-second video and additional information.
The drone used was a DJI Mavic 2 Pro mounted to a pneumatic sled that was propelled down a linear track toward a custom-built windshield frame that contained parts of a salvaged Toyota Camry. The team hoped to identify a threshold below which a drone could safely be flown overhead without smashing the windshield by varying the impact speed. If impacted between 25 mph and 62.5 mph, only streaks of rubber and plastic transferred from the drone as it slid up the glass, but at 67 mph, a web of cracks appeared across the windshield as it bowed inward.
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State Farm claims inspections are the kind of operation where drones can offer huge advantages. They also required a meaningful expansion of the existing regulations. The intersection of those factors — an opportunity to help realize the potential of this technology that will also advance the industry as a whole — is exactly where our mandate lies as a test site,” said Mark Blanks, Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) director.