8034 - Dragon Eggs: Drone-deployed remote environmental monitoring

Project Details


Volcanoes are inherently unpredictable, therefore it is notoriously difficult to have sufficient monitoring systems deployed when a significant event occurs. Permanent monitoring systems are available, however, the data is best acquired immediately next to a volcano’s active vent. For many locations, the risks are too great for the manual installation of sensors at such proximity, hence the data is comprised or not collected at all! Drones represent an excellent solution to this problem, since they can be equipped with sensors and flown ‘into danger’ whilst people remain at a safe distance. The long-range operations of drones, however, is difficult and has significant time and cost overheads.

The ‘Dragon Eggs’ project seeks to address the problem with long-term monitoring in hazardous environments. Sensor pods (the eggs) will be equipped with a range of state-of-the-art sensors for temperature, humidity, vibrations, and numerous toxic gases, and then deployed using drones in optimal (close-proximity) locations. The eggs will be designed to be self-sufficient and transmit data wirelessly to scientists hence allowing the collection of otherwise inaccessible data sets.

Such an extreme, hazardous environment is as unforgiving to electronics as it is life, so tackling this problem necessitates the development of highly specialised sensor pods that can withstand the harsh conditions around the heart of a volcano and operate for extended periods with extremely low power consumption.

Layman's description

This project seeks to create a system of small sensor pods (the 'eggs') which can be dropped off in hazardous environments using drones. The sensors will have to survive harsh conditions, such as those near a volcanic vent or in radioactive sites, and also effectively transmit data to users situated at a safe distance. A key research area will be the effective delivery using drones: efficient and effective placement could be automated.
Alternative titleDragon Eggs
Effective start/end date1/10/1831/03/19