Drone News Roundup: Researchers Crash Mavic 2 into Car at 63 MPH, Bees and Drones Team up to Find Landmines, and More!

BY Zacc Dukowitz
9 April 2021

This week we’re covering a series of tests conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech that involved crashing a Mavic 2 Pro into a car at various speeds, from 48 mph up to 67 mph.

We’re also covering a new approach to detecting landmines with drones that involves following bees in flight, a Michigan court ruling about drones and privacy that could have big implications for commercial drone operations in the U.S., the opening of nominations for the 2021 Women to Watch awards, and the return to in-person formats for drone conferences.

Now on to the links!

Virginia Tech Researchers Crash Mavic 2 Pro into a Car Going 63 MPH

Windshield impact - 62.5 mph

Researchers at Virginia Tech recently crashed a DJI Mavic 2 Pro into a car going 62.5 mph (as shown in the video above). They also crashed it at several other speeds, from 48 mph up to 67 mph. But they weren’t doing this for fun—the goal was to improve our understanding of what might happen in a collision between a drone and an automobile. These test crashes were staged in Virginia Tech’s impact labs, and the findings derived from them may one day help ease restrictions on flying drones over moving vehicles.


Bees and Drones Team up to Find Unexploded Landmines

A practice minefield created by the researchers

Researchers in Croatia have come up with a new way of using drones to find landmines. Originally, these researchers were investigating the use of bees to find landmines, since bees can detect the scent of explosives with their antennae. But it’s hard to track them as they fly—and that’s where drones come in. In experiments, researchers are using drones to film the landmine-detecting bees as they fly over an area where landmines are suspected to be hidden. After the flight, the footage is reviewed by special software to identify potential landmine locations. So far the method seems to be effective, and could provide a much safer alternative to using metal detectors for finding landmines.


Michigan Court Ruling Could Have Big Impact on Commercial Drone Operations

Image source

In the roundup a few weeks back we reported on a court case in Long Lake Township, MI where local police had used a drone to collect evidence that a couple was running an illegal salvage business. The couple claimed that using the drone represented a violation of their privacy, and the case was found in their favor.

At the time it seemed like the ruling was a win for defining how law enforcement could or couldn’t use drones to surveil private citizens. But now it appears that the case could have far-reaching implications for the commercial drone industry, since the ruling declares that drones are a unique kind of aircraft and “this difference directly impacts a landowner’s reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Commercial drone pilots have always faced hostility from people who don’t want them flying over or even near their property—and this ruling could provide them with a legal precedent for claiming those pilots are violating their privacy, which could in turn have a big impact on how commercial pilots can operate in the U.S.


2021 Women to Watch Nominations Now Open


Know a woman in the drone industry who deserves recognition? Women And Drone‘s annual Women to Watch award is now open for nominations. This is the fifth year that the award will be given, and Women and Drones has stepped up the award accordingly. This year, the Women to Watch awards will include the following:

  • Honorees for each category will receive a $500 micro-grant
  • Presentation of trophies and grants will be held live and in-person at InterDrone as a mainstage event for all conference attendees
  • The annual Women And Drones luncheon at InterDrone will feature a panel discussion with the honorees

The nomination period closes on May 14th—follow the link below to learn more about the nomination process.


Drone Conferences Are Back on for 2021


Notice something in the previous section? We said that the 2021 Women to Watch honorees would be announced live and in-person at InterDrone 2021. And that’s because, like many other drone conferences, InterDrone is planned as an in-person event again this year.

In normal times this would not be news. But given all the cancellations for in-person events in 2020 due to the pandemic, the fact that in-person drone conferences are back on for 2021 is worth talking about. Here are all the drone conferences slated to be held as live, in-person events this year:

  • InterDrone 2021—August 10-12 in Dallas, TX
  • AUVSI XPONENTIAL—August 16-19 in Atlanta, GA
  • Commercial UAV Expo Americas—September 7-9 in Las Vegas, NV
  • Commercial UAV Expo Europe & Amsterdam—December 7-9 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands


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