NYU Tandon Students Earn $ 1 Million for Smart Weapon Design | by David Wagner
Gun violence has always been an extremely destructive social problem in the United States, killing thousands of innocent people every year. New York City is no stranger to this issue either.
This appears to have been the origin of the contest for a smart weapon design, started by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in the hopes of creating smart technology to help reduce gun violence.
A team of current and former NYU students won the competition and received a million dollars for their high-tech design.
Sy Cohen, a recent graduate of NYU Tandon School of Engineering, led this project with help from members of his team, also from NYU Tandon: Ashwin Raj Kumar, Eddilene Paola Cordero Pardo and Jonathan Ng.
Under the name of autonomous ballistics, the team didn’t invent a smart gun itself, but a smart gun holster. The case is equipped with intelligent technology consisting of three security options. The first is a fingerprint scanner that would instantly release the gun if the user’s fingerprint matches. If the scanner is unable to read the user’s fingerprint, the smart holster will use a radio frequency identification (RFID) key card sensor to detect and unlock the gun if the authorized user is within range. NYPD agents use this same technology today. The third option is a voice recognition function, also enabled by RFID.
Local spoke to Sy Cohen about the initial sequence of events that led to the unfolding of his idea, leading to its success and that of the members of his group.
According to Sy, being enrolled in an advanced CAD (computer aided design) course at NYU Tandon early in the design of the project allowed him to pursue whatever he wanted.
The project went through several phases; initially, the group actually pursued the design of a smart pistol themselves. But they encountered some problems.
âAnything we do to change it would damage the reliability of the weapon itself. We didn’t want to tell gun owners that you were going to have to change some parts, âsaid Sy Cohen.
After abandoning the first option, the second option considered by the group was an attachment to the firearm; but this idea was also rejected. Attaching something to the gun would be permanent and could also affect the reliability of the gun.
After much deliberation, the third and final option turned out to be a winner: design a smart pistol holster.
Their award-winning smart holster contains all of the electrical and mechanical components needed to lock the gun and is ultimately, according to Sy, “the best way to market our product.”
Regardless of the grant, Sy says the team is committed to continuing this project anyway. We asked Sy if he had any plans for new projects, in light of receiving the grant.
His answer ? Develop a solid prototype to bring to market. âWe have set up a twelve-month program [budget] proposal with three milestones, âCohen explained. âWe would like to develop a minimum viable refined product [MVP] which can be manufacturable. In the long term, we want to contact the companies for safety and reliability testing. “