Apr 27 2015
University of British Columbia students are putting the finishing touches on an unmanned drone aircraft that they will enter in next week’s Unmanned Systems Canada Student Competition in Quebec. The competition brings together the most innovative unmanned flying systems from student teams across Canada.
The team has built a flying robotic system comprised of two drones to provide a rapid aerial response to a simulated environmental emergency in which a train has derailed and spilled potentially dangerous cargo.
“This competition is a great opportunity to showcase a situation where drones can have a substantial positive impact,” said Alexander Harmsen, co-captain of the UBC Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) team. “The narrative for drones is not always positive. This gives us the chance to create awareness about their tremendous benefits in areas such as forestry, mining, agriculture, environmental monitoring, anti-poaching, and search-and-rescue operations.”
The team will compete May 1 to 3 in Alma, Quebec with the Thunderbird 2, a fixed-wing aircraft built around a preexisting frame, and the Hummingbird, a multi-rotor aircraft designed by the team. Each drone is outfitted with an autopilot system to allow for completely autonomous operation. Capable of lifting several kilos of payload, they can carry high-resolution cameras, GPS systems, antennas, image-processing boards, and batteries.
At the competition, unmanned systems will be tested on their ability to take an aerial survey of a disaster site under time pressure. The scenario combines real-life problems encountered by the agriculture, oil and gas and mining industries.
Working together, the team’s larger, fixed-wing aircraft will provide a high-level overview of the simulated train wreck, while the smaller multi-rotor drone gathers close-up information, including barcodes of train cars and potential missing persons.
For more information about the UAS team, visit their website. http://www.ubcuas.com/