Blue Jay

Team Blue Jay is a student team that has the objective to build an innovative domestic drone, that will understand your needs, help you with daily tasks and lives right in your home. I was invited to this team as a strategic thinker and help to develop a suitable interaction between this autonomous drone and its user.

Website: Blue Jay Eindhoven

Collaboration: Eindhoven University of Technology

Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Jul 2015 - Jun 2016

Role in team

I joined Blue Jay part time to work on human-robot interaction and concept development. I translated the team’s vision of a domestic drone into a 3D concept, see the render on the right. This render has been and still is, the concept that the team is trying to realize. The working prototype still has many design features of the original design. Besides doing design work and the physical aesthetics of the drone, I also worked on potential future interactions that would work with all types of users that live amongst this domestic drone. Unfortunately, many of the interactions were not yet feasible and had to be neglected. Furthermore I focussed on the team’s visual and written communication within and outside the university environment.

Living with a drone

Because drones are a relatively new technology that is recently becoming increasingly more popular, it was difficult to research what it would mean for our end user to live amongst one. I ran a questionnaire to find out what the drone’s bottlenecks would be and communicated this back to the engineers. As a designer I always start designing from a user-centered point of view, here I learned that many engineers often don't. Especially in a project that is very much driven by a technological push, it is of most importance to include user research into the design process - I tried to keep the perspective fresh.

Still a long way to go

The team has had plenty of media attention in- and outside The Netherlands. The drone’s capabilities were demonstrated through a world’s first drone bar where a drone would fly to the customer’s table, register the order and serve the desired beverage. The “Drone Cafe” was a big hit at the Eindhoven University’s 60-year celebration. After this event, the “Drone Cafe” was set up at multiple locations in The Netherlands, and the Hannover Messe in Germany. Albeit that this is an impressive result for a team that had 9 months to build an autonomous drone from scratch, this is not the end result. Luckily, next year’s students are picking up the project to realize the dream of the world’s first domestic drone.