By week 9, their MVP really took shape using swarm intelligence with six drones carrying various acoustic, seismic, video and mapping sensors and 360-degree thermal imaging cameras. The drones would communicate with each other and maintain connectivity through dispersion and dropping small “breadcrumb drones” to act as Wi-Fi hotspots that maintain transmission. Structure Sensors may provide rapid 3D mapping with the advantage of connecting directly to phones. Fat Shark headsets may offer a first-person view of the environment in real time. Existing technology from Google Tango could offer mapping and transmission abilities while run-of-the mill game controllers could provide user-friendly control options as well.
Week 10 culminated in an emotional victory, as sponsors confirmed that the MVP successfully met their needs and standards, “This is exactly what we had envisioned.” Now that they’ve got the green light, the team’s next step is the design phase. Equipped with a list of drone, sensor, and battery requirements they plan to put the pieces together for prototyping. They will also visit local firefighters, the police force and SWAT teams to determine the solution’s validity for their specific needs. The students are considering creating a venture and commercializing their concept for a variety of end users.
The takeaways from this class are incalculable, as the students gained unprecedented experience, knowledge and skills. “I wish education was more like this,” concluded student Cassandra Hagstoz, “It’s so much more rewarding.”