OK, apologies for the Superman theme in the title but I could not resist after watching this clip of one of the more innovative uses for a drone.
I am sure you are aware of the rapidly growing market for unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and drones. They are in the media almost every day for one reason or another and you may even have bought one for your kids (or really yourself and are just using the kids as an excuse).
On a more serious note, there have also been quite a few headlines of drones in near misses with commercial aircraft and much speculation about what might happen if contact was to occur. To begin to understand some of the factors that might influence what happens in various drone strike scenarios, one of my colleagues, Alex Pett, undertook some preliminary, proof-of-concept-type simulations. The simulations are preliminary and no concrete conclusions can yet be made, but it does show how simulation can help in this very complex area.
Video: Courtesy Alexander Pett, ANSYS UK Ltd
For many though, it is not a question of “if” a collision between a drone and an aircraft will happen, it is a question of “when.” In April, the pilot of a British Airways flight landing in Heathrow reported that his aircraft was struck by an unmanned aircraft. But this has subsequently been played down and it may now have been a plastic bag, not a drone, that made contact with the aircraft.
However, whether or not is was a drone, the incident continues to raise the serious concern regarding drones and their safe use.
And the safety of drones is not just about where and how high they can be flown. It also has a lot to do with their design and construction. For example, the rotor blades on many quadcopter designs are driven to high speed by powerful motors that in the wrong situation could do a lot of damage.
In the light of this interest regarding both the rapid development of the drone market and the concern over the trade space between performance and safety, I’d like to let you know about a webinar we are holding with Aviation Week on June 16th.
The webinar is titled Engineering Drones: Challenges and Opportunities and I am also very pleased to say that we will have a guest speaker, Trey Kasling, the CEO of a drone startup company Kasling Aircraft,who will be sharing his perspective not only on the drone market but how simulation can be used to develop safer drones and how drones can be used to excite young people about the world of engineering. I hope you can join us.