Toy Helicopter Could Save Millions Of Lives


By Cara Liddle

Scot Andrew McGonigle has scooped one of the five Rolex annual enterprise awards, with a cash prize of 100,000 dollars for remote control helicopter that could help save “millions of lives”.

The helicopter works by detecting the levels of certain gases in the air around the mouth of the volcanoes. 

240_arenal_volcano_eruption1When magma reaches the centre of the live volcanoes this releases levels of carbon dioxide and as the magma rises this also causes the volcanoes to emit sulphur dioxide. By detecting these changes scientists can no predict when a volcano will erupt before it happens.

Previous to this new invention, in order to retrieve accurate readings vulcanologists have had to place special sensors into the areas where these gases were released, a very dangerous and often fatal job.

Six vollcanologists died in 1993 when Galeras, a volcano in Colombia, erupted while they were trying to take gas measurements.

 McGonigle’s invention will hopefully negate the need for this kind of work and therefore save the lives of both scientists and also civilians who may suffer the consequences of an active volcano.

Stanley Williams, a vulcanologist at Arizona State University, said that “McGonigles efforts will be successful, because having carbon dioxide as well as sulphur dioxide data will make volcano predictions easier”.