News / Toronto

University of Toronto students create drones, satellite and rocket on the cheap

Drones, a satellite and a rocket are part of the aerospace show this Friday at University of Toronto

Katie Gwozdecky and Jeremy Chan-Hao Wang will present their team’s drones as well as a rocket and a satellite to the public on Friday.

Liz Beddall/ Metro

Katie Gwozdecky and Jeremy Chan-Hao Wang will present their team’s drones as well as a rocket and a satellite to the public on Friday.

An autonomous, multi-purpose drone. An astrobiology research satellite. A high-altitude rocket.

Those are just some of the inventions students at the University of Toronto are presenting to the public Friday, ahead of an international aerospace competition this summer.

One group has built a flying drone – complete with built-in cameras and a self-guidance system – that could help fight forest fires or deliver medical supplies to remote areas.

“It’s really satisfying to think of helping solve real world problems by using this technology,” said team leader and University of Toronto Aerospace Team president Jeremy Chan-Hao Wang.

“There’s been a lot of trying and failing but we’re happy for the progress.”

The experience has shown Wang and his colleagues that you don’t need NASA’s budget to experiment with space. Excluding labour and launching prices, the making of the satellite is expected to cost just $50,000. Each of the three drones costs about $5,000, while the rocket is about $9,000.

Third-year mechanical engineering student Katie Gwozdecky said working on the project has been an eye-opening learning experience.

“Everything we learned through this, you’d need many years in class to cover it,” she said. “This is what I’ll remember in 20 years when I’m no longer here.”

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International competition takes place in June in Webster Field, Maryland. Over 40 teams will compete for the $50,000 in cash prize.

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