According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates are that between 2000 and 2014, over 22,000 refugees died in the Mediterranean. Drones for Refugees is a real-time monitoring system to ensure the safe arrival of refugees in distress. The project was pilot-tested in 2016 in Lesvos Greece.
The drone system’s inherit design encourages complete autonomy where we are able to support broadcasting and data creation in real time. With complete freedom in mobility, we are able to monitor refugees’ journey during the day or night. The live footage and data, which includes geographical location by coordinates, is streamed live to refugee relief organizations so that they may provide immediate medical or search and rescue assistance. Every minute counts when saving the lives of people; we’ve measured that response times are lessened in length because we are able to provide real time confirmation of location of refugees in distress.
The Drone system includes the following features and components:
Drones, transmitters, internet network, data encoders, goggles and monitors, power supplies and more.
Future Developments and Expansion:
After our first deployment in 2016, and during the recent research and development phase of the project, we completed building a second mobile platform. We are planning on commercial use of the system and customer acquisition in the media industry. The financial outcome of the product will support a sustainable plan for advancement and future deployment of the Drones for Refugees project. We also have partnered with local and international organizations during and after the pilot test.
Drones for Refugees utilizes technology that is at the forefront of progressive design which is inspired by our deep commitment to decrease the loss of human lives. We measure our success by the human lives that we are able to save or assist, and by helping refugee relief organizations reduce the cost of their search and rescue logistics and operations.
We’ve also been able to bring international awareness to the refugee crisis through Drones for Refugees. We hope that through the expansion in awareness on how drones can be utilized for social good, we are able to inspire other technological entities to use their resources to assist causes in philanthropy.
A multidisciplinary team of technologists, faculty members and other professionals have been helping this project come to life.
Mehdi Salehi, Drone designer, Drone pilot
Albert Kim, Developer, UX Designer
Decho Pitukcharoen, Designer
Audrey De Leon, Development and Communications
Jilly Traganou, Parsons Associate Professor, Advisor
Brian McGrath, Parsons Professor, Advisor
Kalliabetsos Georges, Fair Planet NGO, Greece, Advisor
Isabelle Masse, Fair Planet, Greece, Advisor
Mehdi Salehi is a drone designer that focuses his efforts to develop systems that can directly impact people's’ lives for good. He is an engineer, designer and since 2014 Mehdi has acquired an extensive background in drone design. He is a professor at Parsons School of Design where he teaches classes that allow students to leverage drone technology through both theory and practical applications. Mehdi has been involved in drone projects in Asia, Europe and North America. Drones for Refugees was inspired by his own journey as a refugee, when he and his friend crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey to Greece with an inflatable boat to save his life.