Abu Dhabi students design winning drone

Abu Dhabi students design winning drone

Wadi and Gimball drones become winners at UAE Drone for Good Awards.


Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Published: Mon 9 Feb 2015, 1:14 AM

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

Shaikh Mohammed takes a close look at one of the drones on display at the UAE Drones for Good Awards at the Dubai International City on Saturday. — Wam 

Mohammed honours winners

Dubai - His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has honoured the winners of various government, national and international categories of the UAE Drones for Good Award.

Shaikh Mohammed stressed that the UAE, led by The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is an incubator for the talented, and harnessing of the technology in the service of humanity and nation-building.

He was speaking at the ceremony held to honour the winners of the UAE Drones for Good Award. The event was attended by Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council; Shaikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority; Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of the Cabinet Affairs; Major-General Mohammed Ahmed Al Qamzi and Khalifa Saeed Suleiman, Director-General of the Protocol and Hospitality Department in Dubai.

Shaikh Mohammed said, “The scene of unmanned drones flying in the UAE sky, with each carrying an innovative idea for the service of man, cherishes the message that there is no limit for innovative ideas,” adding that this award is one of the fruits of previous Government Summit, has made a global impact in the development of premium services.

He stressed that the new technologies in the form of unmanned drones will present huge opportunities for government and humanitarian services.

Shaikh Mohammed honoured the projects of the Ministry of Interior, Etisalat, as well as the UAE team’s project to monitor the wildlife and collect images. He also honoured the sponsors of the award.- Wam

A ‘Wadi Drone’ designed to help conserve the vast wild expanses of the UAE and a Swiss-made collision-resistant drone for use in urban search and rescue operations were named victors of the UAE Drone for Good Awards on Saturday in Dubai.

The Wadi Drone, a national entry from NYU Abu Dhabi, won the Dh1 million prize, while the collision-resistant drone won $1 million. A third winner, an Etisalat drone designed to expand network coverage in remote areas, competed against other government entities and received no monetary reward.

All the entries were judged on a set of criteria such as safety, effectiveness, feasibility and efficiency, as well as the team’s on-site presentations and demonstrations.

Among those on hand for the award ceremony was His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The fixed-wing Wadi Drone, designed by a team of four students from New York University Abu Dhabi, led by faculty advisor Matt Karau, carries a small communications payload that wirelessly collects data from a network of ground-based measurement devices. The drone is currently being used to collect photographs of wildlife taken by motion-sensor cameras in Fujairah’s Wadi Wurayah National Park.

The Wadi Drone which won the first place among national entries at the finals of the UAE Drones for Good Award at the Dubai Internet City in Dubai on Saturday.  — KT photos by Dhes Handumon

Additionally, the drone can save local authorities millions by negating the need to use expensive helicopter in the summer months when trekking becomes impractical and dangerous.

And the winners are ...

National: Wadi Drone

> From: NYU Abu Dhabi.

> How it works: Carries a small communications payload that wirelessly collects data from a network of ground-based measurement devices.

> Currently being employed in Wadi Wurayah National Park, Fujairah.

> How the world benefits: Collects data without personnel facing risks while doing the same using traditional methods.

 International: Collison-Resistant Drone

> From: Flyability SA in Lausanne, Switzerland.

> How it works: Protected by a cage, the lightweight drone is resistant to collisions and comes equipped with an HD camera and ultrasonic sensors.

> How the world benefits: Can be used to infiltrate buildings in an emergency situation to find a path through a collapsed or on-fire building. It is safe to fly near people.

Wadi Drone team member Kai-erik Jenson said the team plans to use its winnings to create a more advance prototype for use in the UAE’s national parks over the next nine months.

“We have an implementation plan. We need to optimise our prototype,” Jenson explained. “We are very happy the UAE has recognised this technology as the way forward in conservation efforts.”

Other national finalists included a health sector drone designed to deliver medical kits, test results and medication to patients, a drone designed to monitor parking violations, an iPad-controlled drone for use in rescue operations and a construction site inspector drone.

The international finalists were a fixed-wing drone which can be employed to monitor agriculture, a “planting drone” for use in reforestation efforts, and an organ-transplant drone.

The winning collision-resistant “Gimball” drone — which uses a carbon-rod cage to protect the inner mechanics — can be set up in approximately 20 seconds, and comes equipped with an HD camera and ultrasonic sensor.

The Etisalat Drone designed to expand network coverage in remote areas. 

Patrick Thevoz, CEO and co-founder of Flyability SA, said their collision-resistant drone can conduct rescue missions without any danger to victims or rescue personnel.

“In dangerous places, such as a collapsed building with small spaces, you really don’t want to send a larger drone,” he explained “It’s very important that this drone can fly close to people. A bigger drone would collide everywhere, and if it comes too close it may kill you.”

“With this design, there are no safety problems,” he added. Thevoz added that the Drones for Good Award will allow Flyability to expand.

“It’s really a big honour to be here,” he said. “For a small company, this is a game-changing difference. It’s really difficult to find the money. We can find the money for security purposes, but for a search and rescue drone it’s very hard. It’s important that this award will help with this.”

“Now we will be able to invest in more advanced sensing technology and more robust materials,” he added.

The winners were selected from a pool of 15 finalists chosen from an original pool of over 800 applicants from 57 countries. The award, which was launched by the UAE Government during the second Government Summit held last February, seeks to promote civilian drone technology to serve humankind.


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