Preparing to assemble the 3D Printed Drone. Photo credit: Pia Zaragoza
Preparing to assemble the 3D Printed Drone. Photo credit: Pia Zaragoza

UNICEF Innovation staff co-teach the Design for UNICEF class at New York University’s (NYU) Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) with Jorge Just, Adjunct Professor at NYU. Each year students take a particular challenge area in a particular geography, and work closely with end-users in UNICEF Country Offices to develop solutions to pressing developmental and humanitarian issues. The 2012 course concentrated on emergencies and was open to all students at ITP. While it has already finished the work continues as some of the students develop their projects further. This is the story of the team that is interested in creating unmanned aerial vehicles for emergency response and disaster management operations.

The Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University is often referred to as The Center for the Recently Possible. As a graduate student at ITP, I have had the opportunity to experiment with the latest drone technology. With my interest in creating unmanned aerial vehicles for emergency response and disaster management operations, I began to think about how we could design more efficient drones that were low cost, scalable, and open source. With the support of the Movement Lab at New York University along with the help of computer scientist Michael Mathieu, we were able to prototype a 3D printed modular drone.

Prototype designed by: Michael Mathieu
Prototype designed by: Michael Mathieu

The modular design allows the drone to be reconfigured in order to not be limited to just one mission like most drones that are commercially available. Different modules containing various sensors, cameras, and other technological tools could easily be attached and detached.

Assembled 3D Printed Drone. Photo credit: Pia Zaragoza
Assembled 3D Printed Drone. Photo credit: Pia Zaragoza

The UNICEF Innovation Team has given me the opportunity to conduct further research on the use cases of drones and the future possibilities of this technology for humanitarian applications. By researching how this technology can presently be used and determine its full potential in the next 5 years, I hope to offer valuable insights on drone development in the context of humanitarian work.

We invite you to follow our progress and join in on the conversation via twitter:

Twitter: www.twitter.com/hellopropello

Blog: www.hellopropello.com

By Pia Zaragoza

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