Quad rotors and other remote pilot aircraft systems (RPAS) are increasingly accessible to consumers, with an estimated 2.8 million units sold globally in 2017. These systems are often operated by people with little or no training. The spinning blades can cause grievous injury or death and the lack of user protection is a major public safety concern. Researchers at The University of Queensland have patented a safety feature for RPAS that substantially reduces the risk of injury from the spinning blades. In this design, the blades are enclosed by a hoop that passively rotates around the same axis as the blades. When an object interferes with the hoop – indicating an imminent collision with the rotor blades – a decrease in speed at which the hoop is spinning is sensed, and a safety circuit immediately decelerates all rotors. This renders the rotor blades harmless by the time the object (e.g. human hand) would contact it, or else changes the motion of the aircraft away from the object to avoid a major collision.

This safety feature can be retrofitted to existing systems or integrated into new systems.

View a 30 second demonstration: https://youtu.be/VdhVEqaZ5FM