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Fake news? Lethal effect of micro drones

A recently published YouTube video shows someone flying a micro drone equipped with optical sensors and a miniature shape charge as an effector. In the video, the drone uses facial recognition to seek out the target and positions itself above the person's head. The onboard miniature shape charge is then fired.

11.04.2018 | Philippe Drapela, WTT

Figure 1: Miniature shape charge mounted on the simulated head


Thankfully, this horrific scene is fake news. But from a technological viewpoint, such a scenario could become reality. The question arises as to the extent of the injuries that a miniature shape charge can cause.

In the search for an answer, armasuisse S+T re-enacted the scene at the Swiss Drones and Robotics Centre in Thun. The specialists constructed a shape charge with a conical copper metal foil, 3 gram of explosive charge and a detonator. The shape charge was positioned on the test object and then fired. The test object was a gelatine-filled polyurethane sphere, which simulates a skull (Figure 1). The results speak for themselves: the injuries are so severe (Figure 2) that the chances of survival are very small.

If the scene in the video were to become reality, it will require innovative approaches to dealing with the threat from micro drones. armasuisse S+T is actively engaged in anti-drone defence. A multidisciplinary team of sensor and effector specialists are researching defensive options in conjunction with national, international and industry partners.

Figure 2: Ruptured polyurethane sphere with gelatine