I wrote about how UAS are being used in Kenyan anti-poaching efforts, and now South African National Parks (SANParks) is testing methods of using UAS to prevent Rhino poaching in Kruger National Park. SANParks Chairman, Mr Kuseni Dlamini, said “This aims at investigating the effectiveness of various UAV technologies as instruments in rhino protection efforts under a range of operational conditions.”
The photo below was taken by the author at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. This is Nola, a Northern White Rhinoceros – she is only one of five left in the world. Admittedly, this is not from South Africa, but it illustrates just how badly rhino populations have been decimated by poachers, so I hope the program is a success.
Predator Downed in Syria:
I wrote this week about the Predator drone that was lost over Syria. The Daily Mail has posted what appear to be pictures of the downed aircraft. Syrian media is claiming that the Predator was shot down by the country’s air defense, but the U.S. will not confirm that it was taken down intentionally. A video can be found here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2999498/US-says-lost-drone-aircraft-Syria.html#v-4118829154001
Chile and Iran are both going to be testing lifesaving drones. Having been an open water lifeguard for a number of years, I am all for this. The video below shows the relative speed of a human vs. a drone lifeguard. We’d still want human guards to complete the rescue, but it is much safer to approach a scared but floating person rather and a drowning person.
Drone v. Plane Study
A big concern regarding drones is the effect of an impact on an airliner. David Schneider asked George Morse about a recent study analyzing the risk of UAS/airliner collisions. Mr. Morse owns Failure Analysis Service Technology, based in Arizona and is well-regarded in the field. He is an expert on foreign object damage (“FOD” – hence his web address) and was asked about using research regarding birds to analyze UAS collision risk. here is a quick summary:
- He didn’t seem to think that the difference in composition between birds and UAS is a big deal. There are two issues:
- A UAS entering a turbofan engine – in which the engine speed is most pertinent.
- Collisions against the aircraft – where relative speed is the biggest concern.
- Turbofans (The damage to the Delta turbofan above was caused by a herring ingested during takeoff in Portland, Oregon)
- A 1-2 kg drone is likely to hit the leading edge of a blade and get chopped up into a million pieces. It will be similar to a bird strike.
- The damage is unlikely to cause a fan blade to break, but could cause it to come out of high speed. This is important since we are assuming the greatest risk is a low-altitude collision during take-off.
- The batteries are unlikely to cause an explosion. Worst case scenario is that they get sucked into the combustion chamber and burn up (just like the jet fuel).
- Birds are actually more concerning, since they travel in flocks, which can result in multiple birds getting ingested at once.
- UAS v. airliner hull
- He was more concerned about the UAS hitting the windscreen (windshield).
- However, the composition (bird vs. drone) doesn’t matter. Speed and mass do.
- So a 1-2 kg drone poses no more danger than a bird of the same size.
- We shouldn’t minimize the risk. Even if human life is relatively safe, the cost of a small UAS entering a turbofan engine would be quite high. Much more than the drone – and the UAS user would likely be liable.