Home security is a big concern, and with today's growing suite of IoT enabled sensors, its easy to get carried away with the many ways to monitor your home. The problem is, these systems are costly and aren't very easy to scale for larger properties. The solution is a consumer friendly drone system designed for users who have large properties ad want to secure it without the large property price tag.
What it does
Our system is comprised of a web UI, a hardware based UGV/Drone bay, a database, and an application. The user first divides their home into a series of grid squares that the web UI will show them. Then, within each grid square, they will place down a special node that will contain a sensor designed to detect activity (motion, laser, thermal, etc). The node will send data to the drone bay and will monitor the property, If movement is detected, the database is updated and the user is notified through sms and the UI. They will be able to see the grid that was impacted and can decide to either ignore the alert or send the drone out to watch the location. If the drone choice is selected, the drone is sent above (at an altitude defined by the user) and uses a thermal imaging camera to survey the grid and determine if further action should be taken. The drone sends a live image to the user so that the user can determine the best step, creating a nice use of both autonomous flying and user knowledge. Once done, the drone returns back to bay where it charges and awaits another call.
How we built it
In order to prove the concept with the available materials, we created out own land-based drone and our own arena that simulates a generic property. We constructed the drone using 3D printed parts, servos and micro controllers. We constructed the arena by hand using a network of switches which act as nodes in the security network, coordinated by Arduino boards. The robot is controlled by an ESP-8266 and can receive controls directly though the internet. The field is also wifi enabled, that way the nature of disconnect is still portrayed to show how these devices work together to better protect the propetrty.
The hardware incorporates a node-mcu, an adafruit huzzah, several push buttons, a pro mini, wireless charging coils, and other devices needed to make the platform work well. The UI is developed in react and the backend database is made using firebase for realtime json transfers and updates.
Challenges we ran into
Designing the drone and calibrating the servos proved especially difficult due to the lack of precision of the elements used in the whole design. The printed parts were not always consistent and due to lack of materials, we had to improvise in some aspects.
Designing the web application was also challenging, specifically the communication with the database and the text messaging utility.
In regards to hardware, getting all of the devices to communicate with each other in real time without relapse or delay proved to be difficult, but we overcame this using simple data types in the database. The large amounts of wiring and construction were also costly in regards to time, as the buttons were arranged in an array to conserve pin space on the arduino.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Managing to accomplish tasks in so many different fields was very challenging and very gratifying at the same time. Seeing the robot successfully complete its run was a great sight, especially when it occured due to the user pushing a button on a separate device and seeing that being approved by the user on the UI.
What we learned
As we used different tools, we grew more accustomed to them. Among those are 3D printers, circuit design, react and android development.
What's next for Home Drone Security
We are looking to experiment with drones in the near future in a more accurate scenario. The plan is to be able to create a prototype, polish the software we developed and prove the market for our product.