Final round of UAE Drones for Good Awards today


Final round of UAE Drones for Good Awards today

The drones on display covered a wide range of uses including landmine detection, package delivery, urban planning, search and rescue, police missions, reforestation and wildlife monitoring.


Bernd Debusmann Jr.

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Published: Sun 8 Feb 2015, 12:31 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:31 PM

Dubai: Dozens of innovative high-tech drones buzzed, whirred and soared over Dubai Internet City on Friday showcasing the myriad potential uses of cutting-age technology to serve humanity. The 39 semi-finalists at the UAE Drones for Good Awards —15 of them UAE-based — were chosen from a pool of over 800 submissions from 57 countries including Saudi Arabia, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, the UK, Singapore, Sudan and the USA.

Dronlife, the organ transplant drone being demonstrated at the UAE Drones for Good Award at Dubai Internet City on Friday. — KT photo by Juidin Bernarrd 

Separate categories exist for national, international and UAE government entries. Each entry was judged in four categories: a service evaluation, a technological evaluation, the team’s on-site presentation, as well as the on-site live demonstration. Five from each category will compete in Saturday’s final round.

The drones on display covered a wide range of uses including landmine detection, package delivery, urban planning, search and rescue, police missions, reforestation and wildlife monitoring.

The highest scoring national entry was a drone — designed by Mishal al Marzouqi and Saeed al Nazari with the support of the Dubai Health Authority — to quickly transport first-aid and medical supplies to patients, whether they are at home or in emergency situations.

“We shouldn’t risk the lives of our people,” Al Nazari said. “Our drone can deliver medical cards, medical results, even blood packs. We have touched a sector that can reach every single person.”

“Imagine all the special needs people, the elderly people who cannot go to the hospital easily. We can place medicine on the door of their homes. The drone is a full member of the team, safe and totally secure” Al Nazari added.

Al Nazari also praised His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for his efforts to promote the beneficial uses of drone technology.

“Shaikh Mohammed predicted the future, that drones will be in our life,” he said. “We never had a platform before to show our creativity. We are bringing the future to today.”

The other four national finalists to go on display again on Saturday are an automatic parking system drone, a maritime rescue drone, a “Wadi Drone” designed to monitor the UAE’s wildlife and a drone which can inspect construction sites around the country.

One of the highest scoring international entries came from Munich-based Quantum Systems, which designed a drone for use monitoring agriculture and crop conditions. The drone — called a Quantum VRT — is a fixed wing aircraft which has vertical takeoff and landing capabilities like a helicopter.

“This will be a game changer,” said Quantum team member Florian Seibel. “This drone can travel safer and further over big areas, and can fly for a really long time.”

The Quantum VRT has the ability to collect agricultural data such as nutrient and water levels at a fraction of the cost of current methods, many of which involve expensive satellite imaging technology.

Another finalist, from Australia’s Skynet team, can be used to deliver parcels to people’s homes, using a purpose-built catching system which serves as a mailbox.

“This will take a lot of trucks off the road,” said Skynet designer Clinton Burchat. “Concerns about safety are perfectly understandable. But it will only get better in the future. We could start next week. It’s just a question of government regulations.”

Among the other international finalists is a Spanish-designed drone which carries vital organs between donor centres and hospitals inside a temperature-controlled refrigeration unit without the need to use ambulances, which can be slowed down by traffic.

DronLife Project Director Eduardo Guillen Solórzano explained the organ-transplant drone could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.

“Time is critical. The organ begins deteriorating from the moment of extraction,” he explained. “The drone allows us to autonomously transport organs such as the kidney or heart quickly to hospitals, or to waiting aircraft.”


Positive potential

Solórzano added that the Drones for Good Awards have given researchers and scientists the opportunity to showcase the positive potential of drones and change public misconceptions about their use.

The Quantum VRT designed for monitoring agriculture and crop conditions. — KT photo by Bernd Debusmann Jr. 

“This contest is oriented in a marvelous direction. We must applaud the initiative,” he said. “This is a big step, a big bet from the government of the UAE.”

“Many people think of drones and their military uses,” he added. “But this is the extreme opposite. It’s similar to GPS systems. They can be used to guide a missile, or they can be used in our cars every day.”

The other two international finalists are a “planting drone” designed by Oxford-based researchers who believe that their design can plant up to a billion trees a year, and a collision-resistant drone for use in disaster relief missions.

The winners will be announced on Saturday after deliberations by an international panel of judges.

The national winner will be given a Dh1 million prize, while the international winner will win $1 million.

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