Brooklyn engineering school team wins $1 million smart gun competition (VIDEO)

Four students from the NYU Tandon School of Engineering won a city-sponsored design contest to create technology to prevent unauthorized users from firing a gun.

The engineering students, Ashwin Raj Kumar, Eddilene Paola Cordero Pardo, Jonathan Ng, and Sy Cohen, mentored by Adjunct Professor Anthony Clarkean, named their team Autonomous Ballistics and submitted a “smart holster” concept that uses fingerprint, RFID and voice recognition technology to release a handgun.

The competition was announced last August by Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams allied with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, the New York City Police Department, and the Smart Tech Challenge Foundation. Adams pledged $1 million in capital grants from his office to the team from a New York City college or university that developed what was judged to be the best concept.

“When I heard about the competition the summer before the class started I thought it would be a fun project to design a smart gun,” said Cohen, the team leader.

Cohen said the team tried several different approaches to modify the gun itself and failed before switching to an external mechanism.

“We focused on developing an attachment and that turned into a holster,” he said.

Their design, modeled in computer-aided drafting with a Glock 27 .40-caliber pistol, secures the handgun in the holster until it is released by the authorized user. Three methods can be used to unlock the holster including voice recognition, a fingerprint sensor, and a RFID keycard.

Adams, long an advocate for so-called smart gun technology, said such innovation can help address gun violence.

“Today, Brooklyn is taking a meaningful step forward for our nation and our world in advancing a future where smarter guns and safer streets are a reality,” he said in a statement.

The competition was open to schools from any of the five boroughs so long as they contained at least one graduate student or professor on each team. A jury picked the five best schematic ideas and allocated $10,000 to each semi-finalist team to flesh out a more mature concept to for review by the NYPD. The submissions were evaluated for safety, ease of adaptability to the market, feasibility, and flexibility.

The jurists included Adams, Eric Cumberbatch with the Mayor’s office, NYAGV Executive Director Rebecca Fischer, test engineer Jonathan Hayes of Strategic Operational Solutions, and Smart Tech’s President Margot Hirsch.