Human Response and Injury Resulting from Head Impacts with Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Stapp Car Crash J. 2019 Nov;63:29-64.

Abstract

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, are part of a new and budding industry in the United States. Economic and public benefits associated with UAS use across multiple commercial sectors are driving new regulations which alter the stringent laws currently restricting UAS flights over people. As new regulations are enacted and more UAS populate the national airspace, there is a need to both understand and quantify the risk associated with UAS impacts with the uninvolved public. The purpose of this study was to investigate the biomechanical response and injury outcomes of Post Mortem Human Surrogates (PMHS) subjected to UAS head impacts. For this work, PMHS were tested with differing UAS vehicles at multiple impact angles, locations and speeds. Using a custom designed launching device, UAS vehicles were accelerated into the frontal, parietal, or vertex portions of subjects' craniums at speeds up to 22 m/s. Of the 35 UAS impacts carried out, one AIS 2+ injury was observed: a 13 cm linear skull fracture resulting from a Phantom 3 impact. Additionally, injury risk curves used in automotive testing were found to over predict the risk of injury in UAS impact scenarios. Finally, localized skull deformation was observed during severe impacts; the effect that this deformation had on measured kinematics should be further evaluated. Overall, the study found that AIS 2+ head injuries may occur as a result of UAS impacts and that automotive injury metrics may not be able to accurately predict head injury risk in UAS impact scenarios.

MeSH terms

  • Aircraft*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Craniocerebral Trauma* / etiology
  • Head*
  • Humans
  • Risk