Fruit flies may make some people think about spoiled food and others of Thomas Hunt Morgan. But they made 14-year-old Mihir Garimella think of flying robots.
Inspired by how fruit flies evade being swatted, Mihir designed FlyBot, a robot that can detect and avoid threats. He developed an algorithm "to model the trajectory of and escape from approaching threats by mimicking fruit fly escape behaviors." He says in his project summary that such a device could be used in disaster response and search-and-rescue scenarios. For this work, he won both his age category and the computer science division of the Google Science Fair.
The grand prize of the Google Science Fair went to 16-year-olds Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey, and Sophie Healy-Thow for their work examining how diazotroph bacteria affect the germination of cereal crops. They found that two strains appeared to increase the rate of crop germination of barley, oat, and wheat. "As demand for cereals increases with population growth, this discovery could act as a partial solution to the impending food poverty crisis," the trio says in their project description.
The grand prize winners receive a $50,000 scholarship from Google, as well as other awards.