Bolt of lightning zaps a drone

Pop goes the propellers

Even if Ben Franklin didn’t fly the kite himself, the image of metal flying in the sky, hoping to attract lightning, has been a powerful image for centuries. With the help of the University of Manchester’s High Voltage Laboratory, Tom Scott takes the experiment to modern-day conclusion: drones. Watch as this bolt of lightning zaps a drone.

Scott and the lab team let loose on a DJI Phantom 3 with an electrical impulse of of 1.4MV. “Surprisingly,” the Manchester lab notes in a post on the subject, “there were no visible marks on the outside of the drone, but that doesn’t mean that the insides got away unscathed; as it turns out, the electricity took the path of least resistance and fried all the sensitive internal electronics.”

The video shows the unpredictability of a lightning strike, even in a closed environment. The team tried to protect Scott’s second drone with a feint of a lightning rod made out of conductive copper tape, but the electricity ignored the tape completely in favor of the drone’s propellors, which are cleanly removed through the sheer force of the strike.

It’s best to think of electricity as event, movement of electrons. But as these drones found out, that event is the king of the sky – especially when a bolt of lightning zaps a drone.

(H/T Popular Mechanics)