Our Signal Sniffing Drone is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with a thermal camera and an antenna array designed to autonomously discover survivors of a natural disaster so that first responders can effectively prioritize their search.
I act as the Team Concept Holder. What this means is that I have a very clear understanding of our goal and the project. I act as the gatekeeper of new ideas, diversions, and changes in scope. Since scope creep is a rampant problem in all engineering projects, if left untamed, acting as the Concept Holder allows me to stop that. In addition, I am the sole EE on the team, primarily tasked with designing the RF paths and programming the radios to transmit data back to base.
Here's the problem: our world is experiencing natural disasters at an increasing rate. These disasters are more severe than ones in years past. Our first responders need to act quick to save as many people as they can. Instead of riding in a helicopter with binoculars, they will be able to deploy our drone and it will autonomously map out areas where survivors may be.
We cannot guarantee where survivors are. Only a human can do that. What we can provide however, is heat signatures that are similar to known signatures of humans. We can read the standby radiation of their mobile device's cellular, WiFi, and Bluetooth radios. We can plot this data on a map, along with conventional photos of the area, and label the areas most likely to contain survivors. Our goal is that once first responders arrive to a disaster, a preliminary sweep of our drone can be conducted in 15 minutes. From there, the drone will continue to search while first responders can already be en-route to potential survivors.
To learn more, see our project plan here: Senior Design Project Plan