MIT students develop drone system for disaster search & rescue ops - Hindustan Times
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MIT students develop drone system for disaster search & rescue ops

Mar 21, 2024 06:18 AM IST

The drone system has been developed using AI and ML, and is expected to be beneficial to governing bodies during emergencies

In a bid to help out during crises, especially natural calamities, a team of engineering students from different streams of MIT World Peace University (WPU) has developed an artificial intelligence (AI)- and machine learning (ML)- based ‘automatic alarm generation, aid and surveillance system’ by deploying multi-copter that will act as first responder during disasters. The drone system has been developed using AI and ML, and is expected to be beneficial to governing bodies during emergencies.

The students’ team took one year to develop this drone system which can now be used by various governing bodies. (HT PHOTO)
The students’ team took one year to develop this drone system which can now be used by various governing bodies. (HT PHOTO)

Leading the project is professor Vinaya Gohokar, department of electrical and electronics engineering; and the student team includes Arya Pansare, Dhruv Chaudhary, Deepankar Gaikwad, Ayush Jain, Vishwajay Borawake and Rajesh Choudhary. The prototype of the drone system was displayed Wednesday at the ‘Make in MIT-WPU Pavilion’, showcasing innovative projects, live demonstrations, and thrilling game zones crafted by the students of MIT-WPU.

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“The problem addressed through this project is the inefficiency of existing disaster management systems, resulting in heightened human suffering. Multi-copter can be employed to detect and aid people stuck in inaccessible areas. It can also report back the impact of the event and help assess the situation. In times of disaster, the currently available systems are not efficient enough resulting in increased human suffering. Our solution enables efficient search and rescue missions, 3D mapping, and precise payload drop-offs to alleviate human suffering during, before, and after disasters,” said Dhruv Chaudhary, a third-year Robotics student from MIT WPU.

“Our students have developed a system using drones and other aspects like ML which will be useful during disasters. This innovation will help in detecting human presence in disaster-affected areas and providing them assistance in the form of food, medication, etc. Additionally, the location of humans can be transmitted to the operators, and based on the inputs received, appropriate help can be provided as per the situation. Our university supports this innovative idea and provides necessary support to the students. Through collaboration between the faculty and students, we ensure that innovative ideas are nurtured and brought to fruition. We are proud to support our students as they make meaningful contributions to society through their ingenuity and dedication,” said professor Gohokar.

Highlighting the details of the project, Ayush Jain said, “Current drone technology lacks the necessary capabilities for effective emergency operations during disaster management. Payload drones or surveillance drones are utilised for disaster management instead of an integrated drone system which aligns with the necessity of these critical situations. Our solution is an autonomous multi-copter system capable of performing various tasks such as search and rescue missions, human detection, 3D mapping, and precise payload drop-offs. The multi-copter will autonomously follow a path while looking for people. When a person is detected, it plans a new path and navigates towards the person for assistance. Once the person is provided with the necessary aid, the multi-copter returns on its previous path and continues looking for people in need of aid. By leveraging multi-copter technology, this system seeks to improve the speed, accuracy, and effectiveness of disaster response efforts, ultimately reducing human suffering and saving lives.”

The students’ team took one year to develop this drone system which can now be used by various governing bodies. For the initial prototype, the budget was around 2 lakh but the cost will reduce once the system goes into the manufacturing stage. The system will help enhance situational awareness and also establish temporary communication systems by aiding coordination among responders. The system is also capable of damage assessment, thus helping first responders prioritise areas in need of immediate attention and reducing the overall risk factor. Faster search and rescue will be made possible as the system can cover large areas quickly, locating survivors and informing first responders to reach the victims fast and more efficiently.

The multi-copter is capable of detecting humans precisely by accessing areas that are difficult for helicopters to access. It can also map the area to estimate the impact of the calamity. By working in real time with the ground station, it can generate a report of the calamity for first responders to act upon. It is also well equipped with a payload delivery mechanism to provide aid for people stuck in inaccessible areas.

Deepankar Gaikwad said, “Our foundation is based on extensive industry research that we use to continuously modify and improve our offerings. We take our testing to the next level by conducting field tests on a larger scale. Our business models are designed to be a service, a product and provision of data and information. We understand that every industry is unique, and can offer customisation options to suit the specific needs of industries. Considering this business model, we can make our multi-copter a highly scalable and unique product.”

Professor Milind Pande, chief convenor, Hack MIT-WPU and pro-vice chancellor, MIT-WPU, said, “The aim of Hack MIT-WPU is to convert ideas on paper into products. Whatever comes to the students’ minds, we are taking it to market to provoke them to become entrepreneurs. We aim for all our students to be job creators and not job seekers.”

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