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Four UTC undergraduates declared laureates at the 2017 Parrot Award

Inter­ven­tion in high-risk indus­tri­al set­tings often proves com­pli­cat­ed for fire-fight­ers. Gas, explo­sive or dan­ger­ous prod­ucts … the emer­gency ser­vices need a max­i­mum amount of infor­ma­tion in order to inter­vene as effi­cient­ly and safe­ly as pos­si­ble. With the objec­tive of mak­ing the mis­sion eas­i­er, four UTC under­grad­u­ates devel­oped a sur­veil­lance and alert drone con­cept that won the PARROT AWARDS 2017. 

Night has fall­en over an indus­tri­al site. The drone is doing the rounds, as usu­al when sud­den­ly it detects gas and smoke com­ing from one of the build­ings below. It imme­di­ate­ly alerts the site super­vi­sor, who call in the fire-brigades who can con­nect direct­ly to the drone and col­lect sen­sor data and analy­ses onboard cam­era footage, as they approach the site and pre­pare their inter­ven­tion. Less than thir­ty min­utes after the alert sig­nal was issued, the fire is under con­trol and fur­ther dan­ger is avoided. 

You may think this is just sci­ence-fic­tion? Not for very long now: a pro­to­type alert drone exists already, designed by four UTC under­grad­u­ates who, in June, were declared lau­re­ates of the Par­rot Award 2017. Charles, Romain, Pauline and Alexan­dre assert that their par­tic­i­pa­tion is not due to chance: “We took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to imple­ment what we had learned in class on a real-life, con­crete project, com­pet­ing with oth­er engi­neer­ing school teams at an inter­na­tion­al level”.

The UTC team was super­vised by two Par­rot design­ers, but also by the aca­d­e­m­ic staff in charge for the Indus­tri­al design spe­cial­ty (UTC-IDI) and by Thomas Boutin, who head the Pro­to­typ­ing Work­shop at UTC. “This year the com­pe­ti­tion theme was “Drones for Good” and we envis­aged sev­er­al options before we con­sult­ed the Com­pieg­ne fire-fight­ers to iden­ti­fy their needs and expec­ta­tions”, explains Pauline. From these exchanges, the stu­dents came up with the idea of an autonomous drone, pre-posi­tioned over a high-risk indus­tri­al set­ting and with the capac­i­ty not only to issue an alert sig­nal in case of detect­ed dan­gers but to con­tin­ue to exchange with the fire-fight­ers as they move in. “Our pro­to­type, which we code-named Ray SQ, was a joint con­struc­tion project between the IDI Design spe­cial­ist lab and the UTC-Fab-Lab which has a ther­mo­form­ing machine and a 3D laser print­er”, adds Alexan­dre. “Apart from the pro­pellers, tak­en from a Par­rot mod­el, we assem­bled and com­plet­ed the drone from scratch”.

On site, the drone is posi­tioned in a recess, which serves as a stor­age hangar and recharg­ing point. It takes off reg­u­lar­ly and does sur­veil­lance patrol rounds. Should an anom­aly be detect­ed, the drone con­tacts the site safe­ty offi­cer over a WIFI link (but the drone is also fit­ted with a 4G back-up link). The offi­cer then decides whether or not to call in the emer­gency ser­vices who, when they receive this call, can receive the infor­ma­tion direct­ly and in real-time from the drone via a spe­cif­ic and very sim­ple “app” and this pro­vides for a much bet­ter idea of the sit­u­a­tion they will face on site. 

Does this sug­gest we shall soon observe sur­veil­lance drones over all fac­to­ry suites in France? Stay tuned …

Le magazine

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