Written by: Trevor Steele, Peak Associate


First responders might soon be able to save lives with hands-free drones

Researchers at SFU have started working on technology to control drones using only facial expressions or arm gestures. The aim is to facilitate search-and-rescue operations that use drones by allowing first responders to pilot drones without using their hands.

The trials are led by computer science professor Richard Vaughan in SFU’s Autonomy Lab, a research lab dedicated to increasing the capabilities and autonomy of robots.

There can be many advantages to using drones in rescue missions, including the enhanced accessibility they offer and their thermal energy detection camera. This means that the drones can be deployed to locate people by finding sources of heat, and they can go to areas that are not easily accessible for first responders.

Vaughan stated that the aim of the research is to eventually reach a point where communication with robots is as easy as collaboration with a co-worker or trained animals.

With files from SFU News.



Research shows graphite can increase efficiency of electric vehicle battery charging

Researchers at SFU are developing battery-cooling technology using graphite to improve the charging of electric vehicles. The new air-cooled battery chargers aim to improve upon the current cooling fans by reducing noise and improving the efficiency and reliability of the battery charging process.

The researchers, led by SFU professor Majid Bahrami of the School of Mechatronics Systems Engineering, have used graphite, a mineral abundant in Canada, to create a natural and cheap cooling method.

According to Bahrami, graphite acts as a useful coolant for all types of batteries: “Graphite has superior thermo-mechanical properties, including heat removal capacity. It’s also lightweight and corrosion resistant, making it excellent for the thermal management of power electronics and the auto industry,” he wrote.

The wide applicability of the technology has attracted interest from both business and government. Bahrami and his team have received funding from the federal and provincial government, as well as local energy companies Delta Q Technologies and Terrella Energy Systems. The financing is driven by Canada’s place as the fourth largest graphite exporter in the world and the lucrative thermal management and industrial heat control markets.

With files from SFU News.