A new tech contest may shape up to be a perfect marriage of two emerging technologies. Last week, drone giant DJI and 3D printing service Shapeways announced a contest that challenges designer to create 3D printed accessories for UAVs with a focus on improved search and rescue products.
The grand-prize winner and three runners-up will be announced at the New York City Maker Faire on Oct. 1. Following a live demonstration, the winning designs will be donated to the San Mateo (Calif.) Fire Department. Grand prizes include winner $1,000 in Shapeways printing credit and a DJI Phantom 4. Runners-up will receive $500 in Shapeways printing credit.
“3D printing can enable people to take a great product and add to its capabilities so it can be used for really specific tasks, like search and rescue,” Andrew Thomas, Shapeways Community Manager, said. He added that the company already offers a selection of accessories – camera mounts, lens caps and landing gear — for DJI and other drone makers.
Last year, the two companies sponsored a similar contest focusing on the printing of accessories for the then-new Phantom 3. For 2016, the duo wanted to inspire designers to make something more specific for the Phantom 4 while also targeting the public-safety sector.
“This challenge means more lives could be saved with fewer first responders put at risk,” said Eli Morgan Harris, DJI Business Development Director. “The 3D-printed drone modification products developed through this challenge could make a huge difference – even save lives.”
“Severe weather and rough waters are classic hallmarks of ocean rescue, complicating an already challenging rescue operation — finding a small body in a large body of water. By adding 3D printed accessories that can improve the drone’s visibility, carry payloads and land on water, first responders could cover more area, cutting response times while monitoring hard to navigate waters.”
Thomas dreams of groundbreaking applications such as 3D printed add-ons that could equip drones to “land on water or carry medical supplies. Such ideas, he said, are “just the tip of the iceberg. “With 3D printing people can do a whole lot of things not previously imagined.”
The deadline to enter is July 15 and designers may submit entries here.