These People Get Paid to Shoot Drones From Cannons

The science of smashing UAVs.

These fragments of a drone battery got the worst of a high-speed collision with an aluminum plate.

Researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Short-Time Dynamics are smashing drones in the name of safety. Aircraft must undergo tests to assess their tolerance to bird strikes before being certified to fly. But government agencies still lack crucial data to determine how much damage drones could inflict on airplanes.

The researchers are gathering data by using a compressed-air cannon to shoot drone components—at speeds up to 837 feet per second—against aluminum plates simulating an aircraft fuselage. They’ve confirmed that a drone’s batteries and motors cause the most serious damage. Eventually, the team plans on shooting drones weighing up to 6.6 pounds at complete aircraft.

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This story is a selection from the September issue of Air & Space magazine

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