News

Drone Group Takes Flight With Local Business Support

Bob & Lisa Payne

UTICA, NY - Carbone Auto Group is helping a local drone group, CNY Drones, promote STEM education, safety and a new team competition.  In 2016, Carbone donated 60 feet of netting that allowed CNY Drones volunteers to hold small scale drone demonstrations. Since then, the Boilermaker Expo, Barnes and Noble Maker Faire, Griffiss International Airport, Oneida Herkimer Madison BOCES Student Showcase and the Utica Children’s Museum hosted CNY Drones interactive exhibits. Last week, Carbone donated a new 30’ x 60’ netted surround that will allow CNY Drones to hold local STEM-based team drone competitions and other larger events. The portable unit provides a variety of space configurations, giving the group flexibility to hold events both indoors and outdoors.

Drone Clinic at Utica Children's Museum“Carbone has been a backbone of support for local STEM causes. We cannot thank them enough for being behind the idea of CNY Drones.”  Says CNY Drones Volunteer Coordinator, Bob Payne. “We’re happy that Carbone sees our efforts as part of a local pipeline that will help encourage and hold student interest in drone technology. We’re hoping other area businesses will make the same connection and help us out.”

Area drone enthusiasts from schools, STEM clubs and drone technology companies developed Rig Rescue, a 10-element challenge that will allow students and adults from age 8 to 80 to participate in an open team competition starting this April. The challenge incorporates the framework for Next Generation Science Standards into employable drone skills to create a team-centered, exciting race against the clock to complete a variety of tasks.  The Planning Committee kept cost and the availability of parts in mind while creating the elements. Interested groups can use resource guides provided on the CNY Drones website to build or purchase competition drones or use their own ideas. The Rig Rescue theme is based on a story of a disabled oil rig in shark infested waters. Participants will work in teams to navigate through debris, secure an onboard crane, deploy a fire suppressant system, deploy life rafts into water, pick up survivors, retrieve an important hard drive, locate key structural issues and land safely on a moving platform at sea.  The challenge will officially kick-off on April 22nd with a tentatively planned Workshop & Practice Event at the Griffiss International Airport. The goal is to have each year’s challenge supported by area sponsors to keep the cost for teams to a minimum.  This year’s Rig Rescue field cost is approximately $5,000, of which, a little over $2,500 is still needed.  All of CNY Drones’ equipment and materials have been donated.

Drone enthusiasts will have an opportunity to view key Rig Rescue elements on March 26 at the Utica Children’s Museum’s Drone Clinic 2.  Experienced drone pilots, those looking to improve their capabilities, and individuals with an interest in getting started are urged to attend. In addition to Rig Rescue information, attendees can try out flight simulators, try out drones in test flight zones, learn how to build and repair and see how 3d printing is used in testing and creating drone chassis.

CNY Drones operates under the guidance of the Griffiss Institute and the Griffiss International Airport along with the support of dozens of area volunteers and enthusiasts from technology based businesses and educational institutions. Volunteers facilitate Planning Committee and Community Advisory Committee meetings in addition to hosting a social media hub to draw interest and help keep drone owners informed.   

For more information on CNY Drones and to help establish local drone competitions and related events, go to: CNYDrones.org or email: CNYDrones@gmail.com.

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