Build a drone

Law student creates superdrone

This guy loves drones. And he just managed to build a drone that could be used for everything from catching cows to spotting sharks.

A 19-year-old uni student has just done what many experienced engineers have failed to do – he’s managed to build a drone capable of flying for not minutes, but hours at a time.

The twist? He’s not even an engineering student. He’s studying law and inventing on the side!

Tom Maclaurin is an undergrad at the University of Western Australia. Despite the huge workload of a law degree, he’s found time to build a fixed wing endurance drone that can fly three to four times longer than other drones on the market. And he’s given it a name – ‘Swift’.

“Current UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) can fly for between 90 and 120 minutes, whereas my drone is capable of up to six hours,” says Tom.

“Mine is also far cheaper than anything else on the market. I’ve got a unique battery that I’ve built myself, which has really high energy density – which means that it’s lightweight yet packs a lot of energy.”

The best part? Tom’s managed to build a drone that solves a problem

Building drones was something Tom used to do just for fun – but now it has a real-world purpose.

“It started as a hobby, just flying small, remote-controlled aeroplanes. And then for a school project actually I built my first one, and then from there on in it’s just been a hobby until about a year ago. A group of cattle musterers contacted me, wanting me to build something for their operations.”

Large farms need something that can fly for long periods of time to cover their huge terrain, but cattle stations aren’t the only places Swift could make an impact. Given that the drone can fly for so long without landing, Tom believes it could also be sent out over the ocean.

“I think it could be used in farming applications and cattle mustering, or monitoring crops. The other big one would be shark patrols for surf lifesaving,” says Tom. He hopes his drone will offer a cheaper alternative to using aircraft that need pilots, such as helicopters.

To meet another game-changing engineer, click here.

build a drone
Tom Maclaurin with his drone, Swift. Credit: University of Western Australia
build a drone

“I’ve got a unique battery that I’ve built myself… it’s lightweight yet packs a lot of energy.”

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