Drone for pipelines qualify for awards
Top 3 from national, international categories to vie for UAE Drones for Good Award on Saturday
An Emirati student's doctoral thesis in Aerial Robotics and a three-in-one drone that can fly, float and dive topped the National and International semifinal rounds of the second edition of the UAE Drones for Good Award on Thursday.
Talib Muhammad Alhinai, a PhD student at Imperial College London, and his Buildrone team scored 91.4 per cent, beating nine other semifinalists in the National Category. Reefrover came in second while FlyLab finished third after scoring 74.6 and 74.3 points respectively. The top three will vie for the grand prize of Dh1 million on Saturday at Dubai Internet City.
"We're very happy that we did not just qualify but we also topped the semifinal round," Alhinai told Khaleej Times. "We will definitely deliver something special on Saturday."
Alhinai, project leader of Buildrone, and his team composed of Rob Siddall, mechanism designer; Pisak Chermprayong, drone pilot; and Dr. Mirko Kovac, adviser, presented a drone that will not only detect damages but can also carry out repairs in pipelines.
"We've been developing this prototype for more than a year as part of my doctoral thesis," said Alhinai. "Unlike other drones which detect leaks from a distance, ours can come close to the damaged area and deposit a sealant material."
Alhinai added that their drone can repair gas lines, water pipes and oil pipelines.
Another finalist in the national category, FlyLab team, presented a drone that can redefine how science and mathematics are taught in schools while ReefRover team presented a drone that can provide marine biology researchers and environmental monitoring agencies with new tools to effectively map, explore and study near-shore underwater ecosystems.
The Loon Copter team from US displayed a novel multi-rotor platform that is capable of aerial flight, on-water surface operation, as well as diving. Prof. Osamah Rawashdeh of Oakland University in Michigan, USA, explained: "The same propeller that is used to lift the drone is the same propeller that will be used for diving underwater."
The prototype drone once mass-produced will cost around $1,000, according to Rawashdeh. "It has environmental applications, including lake and river health monitoring. The drone is also capable of examining a bridge by flying over it and to inspect its underwater structure."
Rawashdeh said his team used to participate in other drone competitions but they were only designed to test the technical capabilities of the drones. This is the first time, he said, that he entered a competition with a huge humanitarian component.
The other two finalists in the International were 4Front Robotics from Canada, which showcased how to manoeuver drones in tight surroundings, and SenseLab, a drone for quick delivery of medicine and other emergency needs.
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