Design Museum shortlists UCLan aeroSee UAV as top 2014 concept

The crowdsourcing UAV search and rescue project – aeroSee: Drones for Good – has been named by the Design Museum as one of the top designs of 2014.


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The crowdsourcing UAV search and rescue project – aeroSee: Drones for Good – has been named by the Design Museum as one of the top designs of 2014. 

As part of a celebration of the “best in design” over the past year, the UAV project will be showcased at the London-based Museum’s ‘Designs of the Year’ exhibition between March and the end of August. It will be one of 80 design concepts that span categories such as architecture, product, fashion, furniture, graphics, digital and transport.

Paul Egglestone, Director of the media innovation Studio, said: “It’s a real privilege to be included in an exhibition who’s previous winners include Shepard Fairey’s fantastic Obama posters, the Olympic torch and the one laptop per child project. It’s also great to know the design community are as happy as ever to experiment with new and creative ways of including people who might feel they’re not part of that community in the traditional sense.”

A cross-disciplinary project involving the university’s School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences and Media Innovation Studio, along with commercial firm eMigs, aeroSee is unique in uniting Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology with the ‘power of the crowd’. It also seeks to capitalise on some of the key attributes of the burgeoning UAV technology field, and examine how the devices can be used for socially-motivated purposes, such as by the emergency services, the media industry and wildlife conservation.

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Andrew Ireland, Dean of the School of Journalism and Media, home to the media Innovation Studio, said:  “The AeroSee project represents the enormous potential in the UK HE sector, bringing together specialists from

different disciplines to, in this example, refocus drone technology as a power for good. The fact that our crowd-sourcing approach delivers a faster response than a computer demonstrates the potential of exploring human / digital interactions.”

During 2013, the aeroSee worked with the Patterdale Mountain Rescue team to trial how members of the public located around the world could monitor images from a UAV, otherwise referred to as a drone, and ‘tag’ a lost hiker.

The test, which took place in July, saw 335 people collaborate to find the ‘missing hiker’. It took them 69 seconds. Over the course of the next two years, the research team, working with key partners across a number of international sites, will continue to examine the opportunities for UAV technology to provide a useful and relevant public service.

Dr Darren Ansell, space and engineering lead at the School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “The design for the aeroSee system – combining the flying vehicle with the power of an online community – proved to be a really effective and elegant solution.

“It has the potential to support a lot of civic duties in the future, such as supporting more search and rescue teams, assisting the fire services and helping with wildlife conservation. At UCLan we are proud to be nominated for this design award and excited about the potential for aeroSee.”

Dan Etherington, of UAV firm emigs, said: “We really enjoy working with UCLan and think the breadth of our UAV experience and expertise coupled with the creativity and technical input of the research team brings a dimension to our work that is of real benefit to the search and rescue community. It’s great when something this worthwhile gets included in such a cool exhibition”.

AeroSee will be appearing with some of the 80 shortlisted concepts from 26th March. For more information, check here.