Student's flying robot project could be a real life-saver
IT IS an idea more closely associated with science fiction, but an Irish programmer is developing "intel- ligent" flying robots that could one day save lives.
DCU student Mike Clarke (22), from Collins Avenue, Co Dublin, showcased the project at the college's faculty of engineering and computing end of year expo.
He has been working on incorporating high-level video recognition technology in lightweight aerial drones.
Mr Clarke told the Irish Independent that the ultimate goal was to allow Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to function with almost no human input.
So far the UAV can follow an object such as a red ball around a large space without being controlled by a human.
The technology could be used in anything from search and rescue operations -- where drones would be able to identify missing people -- to sports training.
"For example if you have a manager watching a striker, he could put a red bib on him, put the drone in the air and it would follow him for the whole session. The manager would be able to review the video session and see if the player looks weak or is struggling," he said.
Mr Clarke said the technology would help cut down on costs such as fuel and manpower in cases where drones could be sent into the field rather than manned vehicles.
Yesterday's expo displayed the final year projects undertaken by students from engineering and computing disciplines.
Among the other projects displayed was 'Adventure Trail' by students Sile McSweeney (21) from Navan, Co Meath, and Jennifer Hoey (22) from Glasnevin, Co Dublin.
The programme collects live data from a number of sources such as cameras and mobile GPS of people in remote areas and puts it together in an easy to access format.
Students showcased their talents to potential employers who discussed job opportunities with them. Kerrill Thornhill, from Maithu IT Solutions, said that he was very impressed with the talent on display at the expo.
"I employed a graduate last year and it has worked out really well, he's still with us," he said.
Mr Thornhill was on the lookout for students who could work on applications across the Apple and Android Smartphone platforms.
The expo took place as it emerged that DCU has been ranked among the world's top 50 universities in a new league table of colleges less than 50 years old.
The only Irish university to be featured, DCU has been placed 46th in a QS World University Rankings based on colleges opened since 1962.