[Part of the "creativity" category. Responsible: Jakke Mäkelä]
The “catapult camera” is an example of a project that produced no useful outcome whatsoever. It is included here as an example of a solution that did not find a problem.
The idea was inspired by mast (telescope) camera systems that can be used to map and monitor for example disaster zones. Typical weights for such systems appear to be a few tens of kg, and are capable of supporting camera weights of 4 kg or more. Typical costs for commercial systems appear to be some thousands of EUR. Typical heights that can be reached 10 meters. There is a technology which is capable of reaching altitudes well above 10 meters: small remote- controlled aircraft (helicopters or gliders). These are however not cheap technologies, and are not necessarily very robust in extreme circumstances.
We proposed building a catapult which is capable of launching a camera up to about 40 meters altitude, taking images while it is in the air, and stitching a panorama image of the pictures. Download full report: Catapult camera (pdf)
Outcome: The solution has far to many issues to be useful in real life. Projectiles are likely to get lost or broken; the image quality is far too poor to be useful. Most problematically, the cost of radio-controlled drones is plummeting, and these will be more competitive in every imaginable way. The problem is valid and important, but the solution is not. This falls into the “hopeless” class of creativity projects.
Team: Jakke Mäkelä, Timo Tokkonen, Niko Porjo