Drone shines in Innovation Challenge

Published April 7, 2017

Parking offenders beware. Campus police could get a new ally in its fight against illegal parking if all goes well for Stellar Aerial Robotics.

Members of Stellar Aerial Robotics (STAR) introduced a license-plate recognition drone to a panel of four judges Thursday at Cal State Long Beach’s Innovation Challenge, explaining how it will aid police in locating illegally parked cars. The judges were so impressed with the product and presentation, they awarded the seven-person team the top prize in 2017 Innovation Challenge.

STAR team leader Donald Truong said he initially came up with the idea last summer and the group began working on the details last semester.

“The team helped me improve the idea and make it better,” he said.

Truong told the judges that a drone will be better for the environment, parking enforcement can be done autonomously and without traffic interference. He pointed out that traffic on the Cal State Long Beach campus can be heavy at times, possibly preventing officers from patrolling the parking lots.

“Right now, parking enforcement is slow, there’s traffic interference and the tickets still need to be written manually,” said Truong, an aerospace engineering major.

The drone’s camera would send images back to the base, where campus police would then issue tickets via email. Patrol officers would not have to get into a car. The drone has drawn interest from Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Dominguez Hills and Fullerton College, as well as CSULB, Truong said.

Trisha Echual, a computer science student and team member, said there are many details still to be worked out, such as the cost, manufacturing and whether it will work in a parking garage. The team has not yet flown the drone outside.

“We know it works underground,” she said.

Other STAR team members include Paul Delgado, Inna Echual, Elizabeth Kim, Grace Ji and Caitlin Rubia.

STAR beat out three other teams for the Innovation Challenge top prize, which includes $10,000 seed funding, and roughly $40,000 in marketing, legal, accounting and other services for the start-up.

Team Fecit devised a smart phone app that could detect heart problems by recording heart rate, blood pressure and electrocardiogram to a database, which would compare the numbers then send them to the user’s phone. Team leader Megan del Rosario described the app as a preventative tool.

Fecit’s other members were Nitish Bhardwaj, Vian Rejuso and Param Singh.

1010 Innovation Labs presented a device which would enable elderly relatives to receive recorded reminders or messages from loved ones, who would send them with their smart phones. Calvin Leung, Jarrett Mesa, Han Thi Ngoc Nguyen, Alec Selfridge, Anthony Willmore and Ryan Genena made up the group.

Biot, which designed a lightweight steel lunch box that would keep hot food hot and cold food cold at the same time, was headed by Kyuho Shin. Other team members were Sebastian Calderon, Tim Cormack, Marshall-Rishcard Cuico, Paul Severin and Kevin Vargas.

The Innovation Challenge, now in its seventh year, is put on by the Colleges of Engineering, Business Administration and the Arts. Four finalists were chosen this year from a pool of 22 budding entrepreneurs.

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