This innovation is a fully working solution that provides government agencies the ability to autonomously monitor light poles, optimizing the task, and eliminating the waste of precious man-hours which can be utilized elsewhere.

The following hardware was used in the making of this project:

  • Drone: a DJI Mavic Pro, which is an off-the-shelf consumer drone with an on-board RGB camera and a remote controller.
  • iPhone: all calculations, machine learning, computer vision, and flight autonomy were run on the processor of the iOS device.

The following software tools were used:

  • Swift: a robust, state-of-the art, and multi-paradigm programming language.
  • Xcode: to develop the smartphone app, I used Xcode (the integrated development environment for iOS apps).

My innovation is a ready-to-use solution to a real-world problem and has been demonstrated in action to the local municipalities.

  1. The drone calculates its path using Dijkstra’s algorithm before taking off.
  2. In flight, the drone reports its location to the app for operator monitoring.
  3. After it’s done visiting the light poles, it returns to the absolute location from which it was deployed.
  4. On the return trip, images are analyzed and presented to the operator on the map.
  5. The data can be downloaded as a file in a format including: JSON, PDF, or CSV.

This innovation is very important as it will ensure our neighborhoods are well-lit and safe. It provides a low-cost and effective solution that completely eliminates the need to manually accomplish the task.

What inspired you?

Necessity is the mother of invention. I’d been unable to walk my dog at the local park/street after sunset due to several light poles being off. After trying to reach multiple city officials in trying to get this resolved and getting to the bottom of this, I found that the only way they could determine non-functional light poles was during their annual physical inspection, which involves manually driving around the city and taking handwritten notes. I was inspired to develop a technological solution to help cities and local government agencies monitor their poles autonomously using drones in a cost-effective manner. Upon field testing, I found that the solution can monitor 100 poles in one battery cycle of 27 minutes. With improvements being made each day, more poles can be monitored in even less time. This is a scalable solution, and multiple drones can be simultaneously launched to get coverage of an entire city grid in less than 30 minutes!