Problem-solving for humankind and the planet
Technology alone rarely solves a problem – Draper’s Global Challenges initiative applies our substantial engineering capabilities to solve pressing problems facing humankind and the planet by looking beyond the technology to understand the problem space. We work hand-in-hand with our partners—those who face these challenges daily—to understand the problem deeply and to develop sustainable solutions that work. We are committed to creating safer streets with Cambridge and Somerville, reducing agricultural waste worldwide, and providing valuable data on the health of the oceans with the Environmental Protection Agency. We develop technology with partners working in the field to solve problems affecting individuals, communities and the world.
Improving road safety and mobility for all modes of traffic
Road use in the cities of Cambridge and Somerville is unique: more than half of all residents in Cambridge commute without the use of a car, and both cities have among the highest bike usage in the country. Both cities are committed to eliminating all traffic-related serious injuries and fatalities on our roads and improving mobility. Draper is working with the cities of Cambridge and Somerville to analyze intersections using cameras with onboard advanced algorithms that will track automatically the movement of all road users — pedestrians, cyclists, cars and buses — and identify high-risk interactions, including near collisions. With this type of data, Draper can develop an automated system to assess safety at intersections and dynamically optimize the flow of people to get to their destinations efficiently.
Measuring microplastic pollution in our oceans
Visible plastics in the world’s oceans and waterways represent only a fraction of all plastic in the environment. Visible debris breaks down into microplastics, particles of less than 1 mm that are invisible to the naked eye. These particles attract pollutants in the water (such as PCBs, DDT and flame retardants) and then enter the food chain. Little is known about the volume and distribution of microplastics in the water because no measurement solution exists currently. Draper is developing the world’s first underwater real-time microplastic sensing system in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Wallace Research Foundation.
Technology for cooling perishables without a power grid
Lack of refrigeration in the developing world reduces the availability of food and medicine. Often, 30-40% of locally produced food spoils before it can be consumed or sold. Through collaboration with experts in food production and delivery in the developing world, Draper has bounded the problem space to develop appropriate solutions. We’re creating next-generation cooling technology to provide rugged, highly efficient cooling at the point of harvest or collection. The form factor of this solution is adapted easily based on cooling needs. From a 20-liter milk cooler fueled by a car battery/solar panel combination to a small vaccine cooler powered by a single cellphone battery, Draper is leading the way toward more energy efficient cooling that the world needs.
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