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Build a Drone… Save Rhinos!

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Want to build your own unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)?

We’ve teamed up with Autodesk to bring you a challenge where teams will work together to design, build, and fly their own UAVs. What will these UAVs be used for? Saving rhinos.

It’s been a bad year for rhinos.

In South Africa 100 rhinos were killed just in the last five weeks and we’re on track to lose over 1,000 to poachers by the end of the year. If this trend continues we will see the total demise of black rhinos in South Africa as well as most other wild rhinoceros over the span of the next decade.

Rhino poaching is incredibly cruel. The act typically involves heavy tranquilizer guns and a chainsaw to remove the horn all while the rhino is still alive. The animal is then left to bleed out.

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Source: Wildlife Conservation Challenge

Luckily, someone is doing something about this. 

Stan Hisel is an Autodesk’s Fusion 360 community member who works professionally on UAVs. Last summer he used UAVs to track the migration patterns of geese in Colorado and believes the same concepts could be used to track and capture poachers. Stan, and many others, see UAV technology as critical in protecting dwindling Rhino populations.

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Begin the Fusion 360: Build a Better UAV Challenge!

Kashmir-Robotics, and their partners, have created the international Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge to “foster innovation and invention in the design, fabrication, and utilization of unmanned aircraft to assist with counter poaching and illicit wildlife trafficking” (wcUAVc). They’re offering $65,000 in total cash prizes for the best UAV designs.

Along with our partner, Autodesk, Stan, and the local PDX drone group, ADX will be hosting a two weekend challenge to help teams build UAVs to enter in this competition. We’re providing the equipment, technology, and space for innovative minds, flying enthusiasts, and anyone interested in building UAVs to come collaborate. We will be using Stan’s low-cost fly kit (shown below) as a starting point for our designs and Fusion 360.

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On December 7th and 8th and December 14th and 15th we will be working to make the UAV design lighter, cheaper, easier to fabricate, more reliable, stronger, and/or stiffer. Costs for making your own drone should be around $150 – $300. The challenge is all open source and anyone can participate!

Click here to join a team and build your own UAV!

Got questions? Email Michael at michael.aubry@autodesk.com. Keep updated here. There’s more to come!

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