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Valdivia provides earthquake disaster responders with a reliable communications network that allows them to coordinate and operate efficiently.

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Name: Ken Gurwell

Job: Radio maintenance

supervisor for Pasadena

In an interview with a radio and relay expert I learned about the complex radio infrastructure cities such as Los Angeles have. These multi million dollar systems have a large amount of redundancy in their system that if a large earthquake were to happen most likely they would survive. This is not true for most cities. Most areas will suffer from total communications blackout after a large earthquake.

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Current Systems

One of the three relays

in Pasadena right

behind ArtCenter

Many cities that are at a high risk of a catastrophic earthquake do not have robust emergency systems.

Locally in the United states it can take up to 3 days for FEMA to establish a functional communications network.

Internationally, depending on the remoteness aid can be delayed much longer.

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Technical Insights

A relay station in the

basement of the Pasadena

police station

1 watt per mile of range

Digital radio systems allow for multiple channels on one frequency

The higher the relay the further the signal can travel

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A functional hexacopter relay

unit capable of providing 5

extra miles of range

I felt the best way to start designing this object that involves so many parts that have to work together was by first building a functional prototype. This archetype model greatly informed my design by allowing me to understand the necessary requirement for a feasible concept.

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The three wide angle cameras allow the drone to autonomously navigate its environment without input from a human.



The hexagonal body shape allows batteries to be effectively packed into the main body. This shell is made of lightweight carbon composite.


Flight System




The three antennas transmit a digital radio signal as well as its location. The digital radio system allows for more channels to be operated with less power needed.



The radio relays can transmit up to 5 miles to a radio or another relay drone. Areas dense with obstacles, such as cities, may require more relays for a seamless network.






A + and - charge plate is located on the top of the carrying case. Metal feet on the drone allow for autonomous charging without the need for human intervention or precise landing.



Each case has a unique charge grid. The pattern allows the drone to properly orient itself with the charging plate.



The case gets plugged into a gas generator using a standard electrical cord.



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