TU/e students design flying home help10 September 2015
A new team of TU/e students will be building a drone to be used in the house. The flying ‘family friend’ should be able to find its way around the house by itself, and take care of simple chores. The drone is supposed to be done by mid-January; in April, several drones will be on display at the Dream & Dare Festival in light of TU/e’s 60th anniversary.
The new student team, fifteen strong so far, goes by the name of Blue Jay. After a few months of underground preparation they officially started last week. The project has come about thanks to the TU/e anniversary committee that’s preparing the university’s 60th birthday. During a three-day festival in April, the university wants “to show the rest of the world what we’re working on, and how things could look in the future”, according to committee member Tessie Hartjes.
Hartjes, who’s also Blue Jay’s team manager, says drone technology has much more to offer than what we’re using it for right now, because of the speed and agility of drones. “People still consider them mere gimmicks, or associate them with warfare. Drones have a pretty bad image. We want to change that.”
They plan on making a domestic drone that’s safe, friendly, helpful, and able to find its way around the house autonomously. “You could ask the drone to get a can of Coke or to find your keys. Simple as these tasks may seem, they’re really challenging to program.”
The team is on a tight schedule, as the students aim at completing their first drone by mid-January. In the three weeks that follow, they want to make more. The drones cost between one and five thousand euros. Blue Jay will be financially supported by TU/e, and is currently looking for sponsors.
“We’re thinking of using the drones for a drone cafe at the Anniversary Festival in April, where they will take orders and serve drinks. That would be something visitors won’t forget”, Hartjes believes.
No fewer than seven talented, young TU/e researchers have received a Veni grant of up to 250,000 euros. The seven TU/e winners will be undertaking research in fields ranging from oil paintings and improved silicon solar cells to a new type of battery and polymers that are vibrated by light. The last time the university had so many winners was in 2010.
African farmers who are able to produce their own fertilizer from only air. TU/e researcher Bhaskar S. Patil brings this prospect closer with a revolutionary reactor that coverts nitrogen from the atmosphere into NOx, the raw material for fertilizer. His method, in theory, is up to five times as efficient as existing processes, enabling farms to have a small-scale installation without the need for a big investment. He receives his doctorate today, 10 May.
A bacterium living in the icy-cold waters of Antarctica manages to survive by gripping on to the ice surface. The protein used by the bacterium to do this - a kind of extendable anchor - has been detailed by a group of researchers from TU/e, Queen’s University (Canada) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel). Quite special, because at 600 nanometers, it is one of the biggest proteins for which the structure has ever been identified. Knowledge about how bacteria attach themselves is helpful if you want to prevent this, for example, in pathogenic bacteria that grip on to human cells in a similar way.