NASA’s “deployable energy absorber” may appear to be a couple of oversized sponges attached to the bottom of a helicopter, but you could be looking at a safety system that helps occupants survive a helicopter crash — or even any kind of air-to-ground impact.
It’s a bit like an airbag for helicopters, one that NASA aerospace engineer Karen Jackson, one of the driving minds behind the project, said of the technology that she’d “like to think the research we’re doing is going to end up in airframes and will potentially save lives.”
Right now, though, things are still very early. The test you see in the video above is of a helicopter falling rather gently from a height of 35 feet. Even still, the dummies inside didn’t look so stressed out after it. Wait — do crash dummies ever show signs of stress?