Suddenly, drones. In the last couple of years, that's exactly what it feels like. One day, no drones, the next day, your mate has a tiny one that can fly for four minutes indoors for the express purpose of tormenting cats and toddlers. So, yes, it's become a bit more important to conduct research on the damage a drone can do if it hits you in the head, something more likely to occur as the space around your face becomes increasingly more cluttered with autonomous, floating gadgets.
Earlier this year, Virginia Tech in the US began looking into the effects of drones on people's heads. The basic setup includes a) a drone and b) a crash test dummy equipped with sensors to record motion and force.
As Bloomberg's Alan Levine writes, the preliminary data is in, recently published in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering.
According to the research, it's unlikely getting smacked in the forehead by a lightweight drone will do any lasting damage:
Researchers at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, the site of an FAA-sanctioned drone testing facility, concluded that the risks of a catastrophic head injury were less than 5 percent in an impact with a [1.2kg] unmanned vehicle
That covers smaller drones, at least. However, larger drones can get into the tens of kilograms and the researchers still need to test the effects of a drone falling out of the sky, which has the potential to do more damage.
The study focused solely on head trauma and didn’t assess the potential for rotor blades cutting the skin or other injuries.
Ah. Well. So no brain owies, but don't get too attached to your eyes/nose/beard? I think we should let the folks at Virginia Tech continue assaulting that dummy...