Japanese team Yuki Ogasawara and Ryo Kumeda, known as Team ROK, have created a disaster response drone with 3D printing.
Combining generative design software and a 3D printer to create the X VEIN device, the pair believe they have provided a customizable solution to disaster relief.
The drone has been designed for use in disaster response and the delivery of humanitarian aid. Ogasawara and Kumeda were impelled by the disastrous 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The earthquake was the most powerful ever recorded in Japan and resulted in over 15,000 deaths.
In the instance of natural disasters, delivering life-saving supplies can often be so difficult with the subsequent damage to infrastructure.
Team ROK was founded on the realization that emerging drone technology could be applied to save those people in need. However, the team were required to approach the task in a new way.
Ogasawara, who developed the mechanical design of the device explains,
“There are many reasons existing drones are not used in disaster-hit areas, including their lack of safety features, their size and weight, and the low potential for customization,”
According to the duo, their disaster relief drone was only made possible through generative design software.
Generative design software allows users to maximize weight savings by simulating lattice geometries since when designing flying vehicles – weight is crucial. As Ogasawara states, “For a drone to hover in midair, the lift it generates must exactly match its own weight.”
“Variations of even 5 percent of overall weight change how operators must control the drone. It is crucial we make our drone as light as possible.”
Adding to the weight-saving design, the team also explain 3D printing allows for replacement parts to be fabricated on-site and on-demand. 3D printing has also proven its worth in longer term disaster response with 3D printed prosthetics for the victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
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Featured image shows the X VEIN drone in-flight. Image via team ROK.