10 contestants race to final round of UAE Drones for Good Award

DUBAI, 6th February 2015 (WAM) — ‘The UAE Drones for Good Award’ announced that five contestants each from the International and National competitions of the award have qualified to the final round as 39 semi-finalists demonstrated their projects live in front of a panel of high profile international judges at a specially-organised event in Dubai Internet City today.

The Award, launched by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is aimed at employing civilian applications of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) technology for improving people’s lives.

The five finalists in the International Competition are Flyability’s Collision Resistant Drone (Switzerland) Quantum – Transition UAV (Germany) BioCarbon Engineering’s ‘Drones for Planting 1 Billion Trees a Year’ (UK) Skynet’s Delivery Catchment System (Australia) and Innova’s Dronlife (Spain).

The five projects that entered the final round of the National Competition are Health Sector Drones by Mashaal Marzouki and Saeed Alnathari from the Dubai Health Authority Fully Automated Parking System by Mohammed Darweesh Sanad by Mansour Al Balooshi, Wadi Drones by Matt Karau, and Site Inspection Drone by Eman Obaid Abdullah.

“The UAE Drones for Good Award, which reflects the commitment of the UAE government to integrate the latest technology in the efforts to provide more accessible and cost-effective services to citizens all over the world, has reached an exciting stage. As we move closer to finding the winners of the first edition of the award, I commend the efforts of all the participants who have put in so much effort to ensure the success of this award,” said Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Chairman of the Organising Committee of ‘The UAE Drones for Good Award’.

:: International Competition.

The Flyability team from Switzerland scored 81% with its Gimball, a drone that can enter confined spaces and fly safely close to humans, proving to be very effective in rescue missions. Gimball is capable of colliding with obstacles without losing its stability and is protected by a rotating cage, making it possible to fly very close to humans.

Patrick Thevoz, Flyability team lead, said, “We have entered a lot of different competitions, but this is the first time for one specifically for drones. It gives a chance to network with other people developing complementary technologies and who can create complementary services. We can see where the boundaries that we are trying to push actually are that’s the value of having such a big gathering of people passionate about the same type of technology in the same place.” Quantum – Transition UAV project from Germany, which scored 80.3%, combines the aantages of a helicopter with that of a fixed-wing plane to create a drone that can fly longer, further and safer. Due to its high payload capacity and the ability to travel more than 500 km, the Quantum drone can be deployed in a number of areas such as agriculture, humanitarian aid, disaster relief and logistic purposes. What makes the Quantum safe, effective and economical is that even in the event of total power-loss it can glide to a safe landing.

Florian Seibel, Quantum’s project lead, said, “We are quite confident that this is a game changing technology that will change the world and how we look at drones. With Quantum, we can fly longer, we can fly further and we can fly safer. I have the same vision as His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. He wants to change the world by using drones for good, and we are happy to be a part of that.” BioCarbon Engineering’s ‘Drones for Planting 1 Billion Trees a Year’ project from the UK scored 75.4%. The project uses emerging UAV technologies to replant deforested areas at significantly lower costs and higher planting rates. It could be useful not only in commodity planting activities in lumber and pulp and paper sector, but also help mining companies, NGOs and governments in rehabilitation efforts.

Lauren Fletcher, team lead of BioCarbon Engineering, said, “After long and intense hours of preparation, it is great to see that our theory is validated and that our idea and concept has real value. Today had an amazing group of competitors all with amazing ideas and we’re really happy to be here and part of this competition.” Skynet’s Delivery Catchment System project eliminates the need for a large yard for drones to make package deliveries. The project from Australia which won a score of 75% not only makes drone delivery accurate by the millimetre but makes it safer at the same time.

Clinton Burchat, team lead of the Skynet project, said, “We’re very excited to make it through to the next round of the competition and are very grateful to have been given the platform to develop our ideas. Just 3 months ago, we only had the technology and the theory so it’s been a steep learning curve and we really appreciate all the support we’ve been given. Winning or losing, at this stage isn’t a factor – we’re just delighted to be in the final five. We’ve been very impressed with the overall quality of the competition and are happy to be ranked amongst them.” Spain’s Dronlife team’s drone can transfer organs for transplantation from the donor centres to the receiver in the shortest period of time and as efficiently as possible, keeping the organ alive and reducing chances of rejection. The drone which scored 72.7% can coordinate the communication between hospitals and create a digital database to collect and organize all the data, streamlining the process and reducing costs and possible document losses.

Eduardo Guillen Solorzano, project manager of Dronlife, said, “It has been a great experience we are having a lot of fun and are trying to go further in the competition. There are many good projects from many different parts of the world, and the infrastructure that has been developed [by the UAE for the competition] is incredible. We appreciate that we have been recognised and invited to participate in this competition.” :: National Competition.

Among the five finalists in the National Competition, Mashaal Marzouki and Saeed Alnathari from the Dubai Health Authority offered to employ drones in the provision of government services in healthcare. Their project, which received 74.6% score in the semi-final round is focused on delivery of portable medicine bags, first aid, and medical test results. It is also capable of delivering licences and health cards and transferring therapeutic packages.

Mohammed Darweesh has offered to improve paid parking service using drones to make the service fully automatic. Darwish’s drone, which received a score of 74.2%, can monitor car parks in designated areas and report car park violators.

Mansour Al Balushi’s ‘Sanad’ drone, which scored 72.6%, is dedicated to rescue operations and other civil defence services. Sanad, an Octa Copter that is controlled using an iPad, can fly over large areas and conduct surveys across 5 square kilometres.

Wadi Drones by Matt Karau, which scored 67.7%, has the capability to document the vast diversity of the UAE’s wildlife by gathering images of different flora and fauna in the valleys.

Eman Obaid Abdullah’s Site Inspector Drone is designed to monitor new construction sites. It scored 67.1% in the semi-final round.

The finals of the biggest award in civilian application of drone technology will be held tomorrow, February 7, 2015, at the same venue in Dubai Internet City with the winners getting to take home US$1 million in prize money in the International Competition and AED1 million in the National Competition.

A winner will also be announced in the UAE Government Entities Award, a special category exclusively designed for UAE Government Entities and Departments to recognize the best and most practical examples of using UAV technologies to improve government services. Unlike the National and International Competitions, this category does not carry a financial reward.

The Award was launched by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum during the second Government Summit in Dubai in 2014 in line with the vision of His Highness to employ civilian applications of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) technology for improving people’s lives.

The two-day event organized at Dubai Internet City also serves as a platform for interaction between owners of innovative projects and various business entities and incubators, who can use the two-day event as an opportunity to finance some of the projects, which are aimed at improving services provided to society.

‘The UAE Drones for Good Award’ received more than 800 local, Arab and international entries, highlighting the global demand for the UAE government initiative that aims to make optimal use of technology to serve humanity and create happiness in the community.

All entries to the award have been assessed during the qualifying and semi-final stages by a local and an international committee based on specific criteria, including safety, effectiveness, economic feasibility and efficiency.