Rainforest Connection (RFCX) modifies cellphones and attaches them high up on select trees in forests needing protection from loggers and poachers.
Doing so allows the forests to "defend themselves", by detecting, and texting, the location of offenders.
The cellphones save those forests, and help stop the #2 cause of Global Warming - deforestation.
Through my interest in environmental issues, I became aware of RFCX.
I watched videos of their volunteers, and indeed the founder himself, Topher White, risking their lives to climb very high on trees to attach their cellphone payloads.
I had recently filed a patent for an idea I had for a tree-climbing robot.
I contacted Topher, who expressed keen interest in obtaining some to try out.
I then spent my own money and even borrowed against my home, to commission 4 Penn State University (PSU) projects, to build the robot, as well as a manually powered version.
2 of my 4 student-led projects beat out over 70 major corporation sponsor such as NASA, Ford, GM, Boeing, etc., for the two top awards as 'Best Project'.
My robot's mission would be to carry the cellphone array up the tree as high as desired, attach it, and return to be reused on another tree. This robot could also be used to detach the cellphone at some point in the future if needed.
Use of a properly engineered version would have the following benefits:
1) Risk of life or injury to RFCX volunteers would disappear
2) Deployment speed should greatly improve, permitting his teams to work much faster, and protect far more forests.
3) Deployment height should be improved, since the height humans can rope climb is limited by the height their slingshot can launch their rope. Higher height improves the cellphone range, so fewer deployments are needed.
4) Higher height makes the cellphone arrays more 'stealthy', reducing their risk of being detected and destroyed.
5) Higher height into the canopy increases solar gain for the solar panels.
However I ran out of funds to commission an additional project for creating the cellphone attachment device.
So although I proved the concept works, I was unable to complete a version fully capable of doing Topher's entire mission.
Being awarded this fund would permit me to commission a PSU project for enough units to meet all of Topher's requirements to attach and detach his cellphone forest-protectors, and permit me to fulfill a life-goal.
Review from #MyGivingStory