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Project Profile

Modular intelligent UAV designed for flood relief

讯息 X-Drone ©


Undergraduate Graduation Design

Project period: 4 months

Individual Project (2022)

Bachelor of Engineering

Industrial / Product Design

Meteorological disasters are one of the most important natural disasters in China, and heavy rainfall and flooding are major and frequent disasters. In the context of China being threatened and troubled by floods, the new application of intelligent robotic products in emergency rescue in different scenarios of floods is discussed.

And it is in this context that the Inflood X-drone is designed, with a modular design that meets the needs of scenarios and users around flooding.

About the China Floods

Floods in China are widespread and challenging to manage, causing many secondary disasters. Over thousands of years, Chinese people have accumulated much experience in rescue and emergency response as they have battled earthquakes.


With the high use of automation technology in production and life in China, the design and demand for robots in disaster rescue have been increasing in recent years. Along with the continuous development of artificial intelligence, 5G, Beidou navigation and other technologies, China’s rescue robots are gradually moving from the concept to the ground.

Image source

When it comes to underwater products, Zhuhai Yunzhou Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd. independently developed the ‘Dolphin 1’ water rescue robot, not only for emergency rescue equipment research and development to make a huge breakthrough but also in the field of industrial design of this type of product development to make a massive breakthrough in the first. In April 2022, the China Patent Award winners were announced, and Yunzhou Intelligent’s ‘Power Lifesaver’ patent won the Silver Award for Appearance Patents. This changes the previous research process of intelligent emergency rescue equipment that focused only on function and not appearance.

High-flying drones allow for wide-ranging mobile reconnaissance and, with the rapid development of modern imaging and data transmission technologies, have also expanded the range of drone applications. As a result, they have also been used to a great extent in actual disaster emergency rescue, both in large and small disaster rescue and in everyday life. Ltd. is a leading developer and manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicle control systems and drone solutions in China. The company has developed the “Matrice 350 RTK” and “Mavic” series of UAVs, which have improved the overall rescue effectiveness and provided the direction for the next step in exploring the application of UAVs for emergency rescue.

Dolphin I Water Rescue Robot

From yunzhou

Image source

Image source

Market and product research

Many excellent products have already been made and put into practice in China. There are currently several headline research institutions in China that have taken the lead, with companies following the pace of innovation and practice and making significant achievements in developing emergency rescue robots.

DJI Drones for Emergency Rescue


Analysis of the future trend of rescue products

Of the 72 valid questionnaires, nearly half felt that their lives had been affected by flooding within two years. Moreover, in the area of robotic rescue knowledge, a third of people know about robotic rescue. In contrast, a third of those who do know are still dissatisfied with the current robotic rescue capabilities.

User research questionnaire

User research interview - Member of BSR

Interviews with members of BSR, a professional rescue organisation in China, provided insight into the standard of rescue capabilities and equipment at this stage. The interviews revealed that the organisation itself purchases the organisation’s equipment. They rely on training to increase their proficiency in using professional life-saving equipment. The drones can be used for reconnaissance, but their range is short and not very easy to carry, so they have to search for them manually.

Photo provided by the interviewee

User Persona

  • Rescue is hampered by the inability to prepare to locate the target while searching for the trapped target.

Concerning flood rescue, the people faced are divided into two main categories: the trapped and the rescuers. Consideration of definitions, therefore, needs to start with these two aspects as well.

  • The rescue process is affected by the external environment, limited mobility and excessive physical exertion.
  • Lack of effective rescue guidance until rescuers arrive, and therefore remain passive during the trapping process.

Problem definition

Trapped people

The rescuers

User Scenario Integration Analysis

Product Feature Prioritization

Programme optimisation - sketches

Once the product functionality of the solution has been broadly defined, we can then redesign the exterior structure to approximate the final solution. The method of modular structural reorganization is considered and applied to the product shape to achieve a dual-purpose water and air UAV with modular functional components, allowing the emergency rescue modular robot to meet the practical needs in flood rescue scenarios.


This design focuses on the modular implementation’s transformation, i.e., how to achieve a systematic transformation using related and intersecting modules. It is about the transformation through implementing a part of a system. In simple terms, it is the combination of generic modules with unchanging product modules that becomes a new system. A new system is formed by folding a part of a drone component, which is the necessary core of a drone ship, in this modular form.

CMF board and design modelling

Click image for more details

Modelling white moulds to adjust detail and appearance in places

Based on the preliminary sketches, the 3D modeling software Rhino was used to create a 3D model of the product and to refine and optimize the details of the product.

Copyright © 2023 Hicodesign

Copyright © 2023 Hicodesign

Final Design

Product details

Usage Scenarios

Copyright © 2023 Hicodesign


Thanks to my supervisor Associate Professor Liu Xing,HDU. Thanks to my friend Qian Tao for his support, ZJUT.

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