A surveillance drone created by Middlesex engineers is causing a storm in the gadget world.
The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which can help soldiers seek out dangers in the battlefield, has appeared in a number of media outlets around the world, including the BBC’s “Click” programme, which has over 250m viewers worldwide.
It has also been exhibited at this year’s Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition, which plays host to the world’s largest display of security products and technologies.
Dr Stephen Prior, Middlesex University robotics specialist, said with Britain involved in a few conflict zones around the world, the cost effective nature of the drone – nicknamed SQ-4 – is drawing interest.
“I think what people really like is that this is a self contained product that actually works straight out of the box. It gives the you a viewpoint, which you couldn’t get in any other way, very quickly,” added Stephen.
Unlike the devices currently available, the SQ-4 is around the diameter of a Frisbee, weighs a mere 230 grams, can fit in a backpack and is operational in less than a minute. It also costs much less than similar UAVs.
Middlesex has been working with BCB International, which makes survival and protective equipment, in developing the product. BCB is providing external links and funding support, while the Middlesex team – which consists of Stephen Prior and students Mehmet Erbil, Mantas Brazinskas and Witold Mielniczek - are providing the technical expertise.
“Our team worked throughout the summer developing the system which was first previewed at the DSEi defence show in September. It has since been show at four other exhibitions around the world and most recently was previewed on BBC Click,” said Stephen.
Mantas Brazinskas, who is studying BSc Product Design & Engineering, is excited about being involved in the project: “To be involved in a project of this magnitude, as an undergraduate, is great. I’m learning a lot and all this will help me gain the valuable experience I need to get a job in the future.”
PhD student Mehmet Erbil said he feels very “lucky and privileged” to be working in this project: “The facilities at Middlesex have been second to none. We have had all the latest industrial prototyping machines which helped us develop the SQ-4 quickly.”
“The confidence lecturers give us has been crucial in producing such a complex system with ease,” added Mehmet.
Watch the BBC’s Click programme to see the piece about the SQ-4.
You can also watch a clip of the drone in action at the Defence & Security Equipment International exhibition.