pedestrians (oneinchpunch/Shutterstock.com)

Predicting the casualties that drone crashes can cause

As agencies, industry and researchers prepare to integrate drones in the national airspace, they've been working on technologies and polices that advance beyond visible line of sight flying, protect against mid-air collisions and keep people on the ground safe when unmanned systems are flying overhead.

In a new request for quotations, NASA is asking for risk management and decision-making tools that can help it accurately estimate the casualties and fatalities caused by a drone that crashing into a populated area.

Currently, NASA said it is using county-level 2010 census data to calculate the number of people it projects would be affected by a crash along a drone's flightpath.  But because drone operators change flight plans, people on the ground move from place to place throughout the day and data from location-based services varies, NASA wants technology to help it "estimate updated dynamic population data throughout the flight at more refined area of interest." 

Although drone operators currently need a special waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly over populated areas, several of the 10 projects recently selected for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program will help advance the technologies and regulations to make drone flights over people safe.

Read the full RFQ here.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA from West Chester University and an MA in English from the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at smiller@gcn.com or @sjaymiller.

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