With drone ownership on a rapid rise, feds conduct study to enhance safety

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There are an estimated 3 million drones that regularly fly over American skies, and by 2020 experts estimate there will be 7 million -- the vast majority of those flown by hobbyists with little or no training.

With the increase in drones, there has also been an increase in accidents. The blades on a drone can slice bone deep, falling drones have knocked people out and there's the potential danger of fire or explosion from the lithium batteries that power drones.

The feds are so worried about potential dangers that they are taking part in a national study designed to increase drone safety. Crash dummies were used to to determine the extent of injuries drones can cause, which showed the biggest danger is from a falling drone hitting someone and causing blunt force trauma.

The study, which will continue this summer, also examines what drone manufacturers can do to mitigate problems, including adding shields to protect rotor blades and developing new safety standards for the lithium batteries. Researchers plan to create a series of tests that drone manufacturers can use to certify their drones can be safely operated in public.