When a team from MIT’s Senseable City Lab flew to Dubai this weekend to participate in Drones for Good, a contest hosted by the UAE government, they brought a swarm of five amphibious drones in tow.
Their project, dubbed “Waterfly,” mimics a swarm of dragonflies. Each Frisbee-like device is just over four pounds, and together, they can communicate with each other, fly collaboratively, and land on bodies of water to collect samples for environmental testing. The team will have them on display at the contest semifinals this week at Dubai’s Internet City.
“When you have a swarm they can be much more efficient,” said Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab, which designed the distinctive crafts. If the goal is to photograph a region, or collect multiple water samples, five drones could collect a more comprehensive sample, faster.
In a region where the associations with the word “drone” carries a more threatening meaning—think large Predators with missiles rather than more innocuous quadcopters—the Emiratis have taken a strikingly optimistic stance about the potential benefits of small autonomous crafts.
Source: Beta Boston