Recently we heard about a Firefighter who was trapped in a burning building trying to save a trapped and injured individual. In agreement, we decided that this is an unnecessary occurrence. We originally designed a quadcopter that would travel in burning buildings and search for survivors. The problem with this, even though firefighters would love this technology, it would be nearly impossible to implement this idea because budget issues for fire departments.

We switched plans, keeping the essential idea of a search-and-rescue autonomous robot, but instead of navigating through buildings, it would fly over forests and oceans. As an added bonus, we thought of having multiple drones in a swarm that could simultaneously search an area making it much more time efficient.

How it works

Otto's main priority is to find debris. After much research, we found that, using a spiral pattern approach, the swarm could cover a large area quickly, without interference. Otto uses accelerometers to self-stabilize and a front-mounted camera to search for anything that its code deems a "potential crash site." A human can also operate the drone remotely, although this would be a special single-drone case.

Challenges I ran into

Our drone had several challenges going into this, foremost being a weight issue. We had to pack a lot of sensors into a small area. Just adding an arduino on top of the quad added 120g of weight that required us to switch from a 3s to a 4s system.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Having the drone fly was a huge accomplishment.

What's next for Otto

Mass production so that its swarm function can be fully realized.

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