MSU students awarded NASA grant for unique idea

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 4:51 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A group of Michigan State students has won a NASA research award for developing a unique delivery drone. The twelve engineering students are creating an electric drone that would be able to deliver packages from the roof of a bus.

One of those students, Kindred Griffis, said, “The really unique thing about it is that it would land on top of the bus so this would save time because rather than charging in the factory the drone is going to charge from the electricity from the bus itself.”

Kindred said the drone will be completely computerized and automatically take off from the bus once its reached a bus stop to deliver its package within a certain radius. Kindred said he can’t take credit for the idea, as his fellow classmate initially came up with it.

Yuchen Wang spearheaded the drone idea.

“I came up with the idea when I was stuck behind a CATA bus on campus at a bus station picking up passengers, and I looked above the bus ceiling and I realized that’s a lot of empty space,” Wang said. “I was thinking ‘Huh, and I have this drone project,’ and I said that would be crazy to fit some drones on top of it.”

NASA recognized the creative design and is awarding the students with $80,000 to develop and construct the drone. MSU was just one of three universities to receive this award in the entire country and it means a lot to these students to be selected.

“It’s pretty cool that they are taking an interest in our project out of the nation, that they think we have the potential to be really useful,” Kindred said.

Both students told News 10 their drone is different because it fixes the delivery range issue.

“The big obstacle is the delivery range; it does not cover more than 2 miles for a 20 pound payload, so there is challenge for it,” Wang said. “But with this idea we are expanding the whole delivery range to the whole public transportation network system which can cover 20 miles, depending on how big the city is.”

The students told News 10 they will begin working on the piece this August. The students are not sure which businesses they’ll pitch the idea to, saying they’d like to perfect it first.

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