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Strathclyde students launch environmental drone project

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A drone fitted with a thermal camera to monitor buildings' energy efficiency is being developed by students at the University of Strathclyde.

The team of three students, from the University's Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, aim to commercialise the concept, which is designed to give a comprehensive assessment of energy use.

The partners in the project – Americo Pino, Ken Brooksbank, and Kai Pham – have named their start-up endeavour Drone Wrangler and are currently exploring the diversity and viability of innovative drone technology to create environmental value across industries such as energy, agriculture and construction.

Americo said: "Energy efficiency is important in buildings for environmental and economic reasons but some equipment used to measure it is expensive and doesn't always give a full reading. Drones can make these types of inspections more comprehensive and thermal imaging technology takes this a step further.

"Our drone lifts off automatically and can link to around 17 satellites at a time, so it's very precise in the images it takes and very safe to fly.

"We're using this project as a proof of concept exercise and are working with Strathclyde's Enterprise Hub in setting up a company called Drone Wrangler. We've also had a lot of support from the University's Estates Services, particularly Ian McKay in Building Services and Energy and Environmental Manager Dean Drobot."

On a recent test flight, the drone surveyed four buildings on Strathclyde's campus – the Wolfson, Architecture, John Anderson and Sir William Duncan buildings – and a fifth building at the University's playing fields at Stepps. Each assessment took around 30 minutes to conduct and, as a safety precaution, the flight took place at 3am, offering the team ideal flight conditions. The students are currently analysing the data.

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Further information on Drone Wrangler can be seen at http://www.dronewrangler.uk

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