At Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, a group of students have created a 3D printed drone they say they can use to enable security professionals to effectively reduce “blind spots” and create more robust security systems.
“It is very customizable, very modular,” says Wijaya. “We have focused the drone on giving first responders information to increase situational awareness. It provides an aerial view. If you are walking into an area that is hazardous, you can only see what is in front of you. With aerial coverage, you can see everything that’s happening around you.”
Wijaya is one of the four student co-founders of Avian Robotics, the company that created the Avian Drone. The team plans to unveil the device at the university’s Surrey campus Open House on March 4, and they say that by 3D printing the device, they can be made at a fraction of the cost associated with building conventional drones.
Wijaya says the Avian adds value by using 3D printing technology which makes it exceptionally inexpensive to customize and modify.
“By leveraging 3D printers, we are able to modify the drone to suit the need of any specific environment or application with very little additional cost,” Wijaya says.
The Avian uses an autonomous indoor navigation system, and it can be programmed for customized and randomized route mapping which is “100% operator-free.” The drone can also be controlled manually using an onboard, live video stream and responsive control. The team at Avian say the cameras and sensors let the drone quickly – and accurately – navigate in indoor environments to avoid various security exploits.
The “fully autonomous” drone is operated using a laptop, but it’s also capable of following a pre-programmed route or random routes while simultaneously streaming high quality images back to the operator. The team says that the drone can be connected to Wi-Fi, but that it’s also capable of operating via LTE and radio networks.
The drone is slightly narrower than the width of a standard door, but Wijaya says there are plans to build a smaller version.
The developers say the drone currently features 20 minutes of continuous flying time, but the plan is to increase flying time to 30 to 35 minutes with the smaller version.
Wijaya says it’s the frame construction of the drone which cuts costs, as it can be built cheaply and gets its power from off-the-shelf electronics.
“For example, for a comparison here in Canada – one drone that is focused on the military is selling for $60,000,” said Wijaya says. “In the developmental stage, our cost is about $500 to make one.”
Wijaya says the SFU director of security has provided assistance with the development of the device and has high hopes for using it in emergency response situations.
What do you think the response will be to this autonomous 3D printed drone patrolling the halls and campus of Simon Fraser University in Canada? Let us know in the 3D Printed Drone for Security forum thread on 3DPB.com.