Sprout Studios

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Microplastic Sensing Drone

Client: Draper Labs

Sprout teamed up with Draper Labs and the Environmental Protection Agency to combat one of the biggest problems in the world: microplastic contamination. The Mircoplastics-Sensing Autonomous Underwater Vehicle is the first-in-class for microplastic sensing drones. The AUV can detect and analyze invisible microplastics, and enable scientists to understand where they are originating from, where they are most prominent, and how to prevent them from contaminating our waters.

To design this environmentally conscious drone, we first looked at Draper’s visual brand language to find cohesive elements that inspired us to construct intentional, innovative, dynamic, and unobtrusive, signature features. For three years the project slowly took shape, as we decided to approach the form and characteristics with a holistic perspective of the product’s environments: due to the possible harmful effect rudders could have on ocean life, the vehicle needed to include thrusters.

Throughout this entire process, we worked closely with the Draper team and the Environmental Protection Agency in order to design intentionally, with aesthetics and sustainability in mind. The outcome? A new piece of technology that could lead to further plastic research, help the environment, and pioneer emerging plastic trends.


TIME Magazine Best Inventions 2019, The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and Metropolitan Arts Press Good Design Awards 2019, Fast Company World Changing Ideas 2019


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