Maverick Drones To Commercialize Advanced Drone Tech Created By NASA

With plans to use it to improve science and math education in America.

November 1, 2016

America is lagging far behind other industrialized countries in its quality of science and math education according to a study by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). An even larger problem is that up to 80% of High School Seniors can’t comprehend basic science and math at their grade levels.


This STEM crisis is already having a negative impact on the US economy and GDP by making it difficult for companies to locate enough qualified employees for millions of science related jobs. As global economies become more reliant on technology as a primary value creator, the economic consequences of the US falling further behind in STEM education will be severe. 


This means that schools are desperate to find new ways to improve science education.


Maverick Drones was specifically formed to enter the Space Race challenge in an attempt to win a license to commercialize advanced drone control technology created by NASA in order to use it to improve science and math education in America. 


NASA’s Micro Aerial Vehicle (MAV) control system (LAR-TPOS-33) supports autonomous flight (autopilot) as well as a wide range of sensors for various types of data and video collection to accomplish a wide variety of missions.   We will extend the NASA flight control system by integrating it with additional software including ArduPilot, an open source graphical flight planning application, and Scratch a visual programming block language, to create a powerful yet easily accessible mission development environment for students.


Maverick Drones will use the NASA flight control technology to offer a completely new and immersive set of Science Mystery Maker Challenges, which we call “Missions Improbable.” Students will build and program a drone and use science and math skills to solve clues needed to program their drone to find an actual object hidden in the real world.


One example is a search and rescue mission to find a friendly alien names “Bob” whose UFO has crashed somewhere on the school grounds (maybe even on the roof). Students will need to analyze the clues in order to select the right sensors to find Bob’s ship, and will need to use their analytical and deductive skills as well as age-appropriate trigonometry, algebra and vector analysis to program their drone to find and rescue Bob. 


Hands-on team problem solving projects like this have been shown to be effective in engaging both girls and boys in learning science and math and promoting interest and confidence in pursuing STEM careers.  


The Space Race Challenge 

The Space Race Challenge conducted by the Center for Advancing Innovation was a unique “growth opportunity” for our team. While the team leader is an experienced entrepreneur, the rest of the team members had technical backgrounds with little prior exposure or experience to starting a business.   The core lessons the team learned from participating in this challenge is that the technical designs and challenges account for less than half of the overall intellectual content of a startup.  During this project the team was exposed to all of the other non-technical disciplines needed to design a successful business including direct and indirect market research, market analysis, sales projections, cost estimates, financial modeling, fund raising, and accounting. 

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