A high-tech drone will be built and used to sanitize the football stadium and other facilities at Dublin High School but a certain high-priced part needs to be bought first for the project to happen, which is why the school's Gael Force Robotics Club launched a virtual fundraiser this month.
When assembled, the yet-to-be-built sanitization drone will be called "T.E.R.S.U.S.," which is Latin for 'clean', but in this case also stands for 'Technologically Effective Rapid Smart Unmanned Sanitizer'.
T.E.R.S.U.S. will use artificial intelligence to autonomously fly and sanitize the bleacher seats in the stadium and other parts of the school from high above.
Niharika Suravarjjala, president of Gaels Force Robotics and a senior at DHS, told the Weekly, "The idea came when it was suggested by the school district management and operations team" and called it "disheartening" to hear staffers were disinfecting the stadium by hand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"When we heard that, we knew this was something we're interested in helping out with," Suravarjjala said.
A core project group of 10 students from the approximately 180-member international award-winning club was formed, and the team immediately started looking into drones already on the market for design ideas and inspiration.
One sanitization drone used at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, caught their eye but the price tag was too much. The group found that industrial drones were also much more than they expected.
Another goal of theirs is to "enhance what we see on the market already," Suravarjjala said, adding she and her team members are confident their recent calculations will allow T.E.R.S.U.S. to fly upwards of 400 feet, maybe more, for about a quarter of the current market price.
However, T.E.R.S.U.S requires one very expensive part before the club can do anything -- a $4,000 battery, which will also have twice the flight time of most drones for about 22 minutes total.
Whoever is operating the drone will be able to control it remotely with an iPhone app that allows them to plot an area by combining artificial intelligence with DNS-based flight routing.
Suravarjjala said the drone will use a high pressure pump and spray system to disperse up to one gallon of disinfectant fluid, optimizing usage with different values like the temperature of the motor and the weather outside.
Once finished, what so far has taken up to three people several hours to complete, T.E.R.S.U.S. will do in a matter of minutes while sparing staff from potential COVID exposure.
"I think the main reason we're doing this is we really do appreciate our management and operations team," Suravarjjala added. "We're super grateful; they are going (to campus) every day and helping keep us safe. It's really important that we do something."
The club is trying to raise the $4,000 for the drone battery by Thanksgiving, in order to place the order, which will keep the project timeline on track and account for the most expensive part. Eventually the club would like to build one sanitization drone for each DUSD site, but will need to raise more funds first.
To donate to the Gael Force Robotics Club's Project T.E.R.S.U.S., visit their GoFundMe page.