Name: Mohammed Nasir
Lives: Toronto, Canada
What are you showcasing at Maker Faire this year?
As part of the Drones for Humanity initiative, my team and I will be showcasing our final production model of a humanitarian heavy lifting drone. This drone is capable of lifting a 50 pound payload, with a flight time of approximately 30 minutes, all while being fully electric. Electric power is inherently safer than gasoline, and requires zero maintenance. The main purpose of this drone is for rapid deployment in the hour following a natural disaster, each with a setup time of about one minute. Being fully autonomous (self-piloting when given GPS coordinates), hundreds of these drones can be deployed with a crew of, say, 10 people. Most importantly, these drones are cheap: 1000+ drones for the same cost of a relief helicopter.
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How did you come up with the idea?
Seeing the many natural disasters around the world, such as the Haiti earthquake of 2010, and the recent Nepal earthquake, there seemed to be a need for faster aid deployment. The survivors of the Haiti earthquake, for example, did not see rescuers for more than two days after the event. As a result, many of the trapped survivors perished. This project aims to change that, by having a swarm of a few hundred being deployable within an hour when set up by a small team of volunteers. Typically after a disaster, gasoline would have to be shipped in from another region, wasting precious time, whereas electricity can be sourced from solar power or nearby power grids that may still be intact. These drones are not only designed to carry food, water, and other basic aid supplies, but can also be deployed with portable rescuing equipment such as pneumatic jigs in order for survivors to begin freeing other trapped survivors before first responders arrive.
Did anything surprising happen while you were developing it?
There was not much that was unplanned, but an interesting observation is how controllable drones are, despite the heavy payload that was carried. The 105 pound drone had roughly the same flight characteristics of my smaller 5 pound one!
What are you working on next, either for this specific project or something else you have in the works?
We are planning on getting in contact with various aid organizations, as well as first response teams, in order to get this project in action. These teams and organizations would have an armamentarium of these drones, fully equipped to handle any natural disaster.
Is there anyone at Maker Faire you’re excited to meet?
I would be delighted to meet someone who is also working for humanitarian uses of drones. Working towards a common goal opens the door to possible partnerships and support in making these types of projects a reality.
What invention do you think would change the world?
There are two types of inventions in this world: those that solve a problem, and those that improve the quality of life. Inventions from each category have the potential to change the world in their own right. The invention of the personal computer truly improved the lives of many around the world. These drones fall into the category of solving a problem that has been around since the beginning of time – surviving natural disasters.
Meet Mohammed Nasir at Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science Sept. 26 & 27.