State Farm Research Addresses Safety Concerns Related to Flying Drones Over Moving Vehicles
The value of drone technology is tied to the future ubiquity of it, as experts have long talked about how the technology needs to be positioned as just another tool to be utilized as needed in order to truly unlock that value. Getting there is a matter of knowing that drones are as safe to use as any of those other tools though, which is why the FAA is focused on being able to quantify that kind of safety. Thankfully, as a recent study conducted by State Farm at one of Virginia Tech’s impact labs shows, there’s hard data to make that safety case.
This study by the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) and State Farm saw the development of unique test methods to assess the risk of a drone impact with a moving vehicle. The data from these tests supported State Farm’s successful application to the FAA for a waiver to a previous provision of 14 CFR Part 107 prohibiting drone flights over moving vehicles. The results of the test are telling on multiple levels.
“Post-impact inspections from the study showed an interesting result,” said Dave Phillips, State Farm spokesperson. “At impact speeds between 25 and 62.5 mph, the only signs of the collision were streaks of rubber and plastic transferred from the drone as it slid up the glass. When the Mavic hit at 67 miles per hour, a web of cracks shot across the windshield as it bowed inward, spitting shards of glass onto the floor. The slim margin between a virtually pristine windshield and a destroyed one drew a clear boundary around low-risk scenarios. The waiver application reasoned that as long as potential relative impact speeds never exceeded 62 mph, flights over moving vehicles presented minimal risk. The FAA agreed.”