26A1 is a project that I worked on from late 2017 to September 2018, in which I attempted to develop a piece of software that would autonomously fly 4-6 drones at an off-axis rotation around a building, the idea being that each drone would be equipped with a 3D Scanner (Lidar) and a Thermal camera, which would then send the information to a centralized server that could then create a live up-dating 3D heat map, with the intension of being in situations such as Grenfield Tower, it could provide emergency services with vital information that could help to save lives.
When I first started developing this I had very little experience with artificial intelligence, however, I was a credited Drone pilot, winning Sixth place in a global Drone Racing competition the year before. I was also comfortable in a few programming languages such as Python.
I started work on the project by first researching computer vision, to do this I used Python and an open Computer Vision library called ‘OpenCV’, which allowed me to create a very simple program to start autonomously identifying people and objects. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos to demonstrate the actual program in action due to OpenCV 2.4 not existing anymore… However here are some example photos from online videos demonstrating similar programs:
This program used “Weights” to train the algorithm to identify the objects – I’d later use this to create a collision detection system used to pilot the drone.
My first prototypes had a drone small drone hovering and making small turns, although nothing super complicated, It took a lot of effort to figure out how to get a signal to a drone wirelessly, and then take information coming in to the system and turn that into required actions. To do this I used this setup:
I ran into a problem pretty quickly, however, Funding – This is when I first entered my design into the Big Bang Competition, a national competition that puts Young Engineers together to develop and showcase a project, the winner being given funding and an opportunity to compete in similar competitions globally. In Late June 2018 using my Prototype and some Visual examples I was able to achieve runner up in the intermediate category of the Big-Bang Competition, I also won the Richardo Prize for Innovation and Technology, Thermofisher Prize for Innovation as well as Big-Bang Young Engineer of the Year 2018 – this attracted several investors including a representative from the Dubai Police who was interested in adapting my project to their purpose.
However due to health reasons, I was unable to continue the project, and so in Late 2018 I discontinued my Project.