Swiss team wins ‘UAE Drones for Good’ $1 million prize

The competition received an overwhelming response from around the world with more than 800 entries from 57 countries

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A Swiss team has won a $1 million award for creating a drone that can enter confined spaces and safely fly close to humans at the “UAE Drones for Good” global competition on Sunday.

Flyability won the grant after demonstrating how the drone can be highly effective in rescue missions. It is protected by a rotating cage which makes it capable of colliding with obstacles in challenging environments without losing its stability.

The competition, the first of its kind, has been held over the course of two days. 39 semi-finalists in three categories presented live demonstrations of their projects to a panel of international judges. There was also a division for national competitors who won AED 1 million.

The $1 million award was given in the presence of Dubai Ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, along with UAE ministers and international dignitaries. The other finalists in the International Competition included drones for reforestation, urgent transportation of organs, delivery catchment systems and monitoring of crop conditions.

Excited by the win, Flyability team leader Patrick Thevoz said in a statement: “We struggled to find funding to develop our search and rescue drone but this UAE Government Summit initiative, Drones for Good, means we can commercially develop our project within a year, and with Flyability able to go where it is dangerous for rescuers, help save lives.

“The Drones for Good Award is the first of its kind. It is inspirational, because while there are many awards for academic research there aren’t many for the social application of new technology. It allows passionate teams like us to move forward and make this a reality. The Drones for Good Award is a unique opportunity to help people realize that these flying machines are capable of positively impacting society,” he added.

The competition was initially launched at the 2014 Government Summit and occurs just days before this year’s Summit on February 9-11. The annual event focuses on how technology will radically reshape government and public services through the introduction of drones, robotics and other innovations.

The competition received an overwhelming response from around the world with more than 800 entries from 57 countries around the world led by Spain with 62 entries, followed by the United States with 47 and India with 34 entries.

Relief services topped the list of main sectors covered by the entries followed by civil defense services, economic development and the environment.

“The UAE Drones for Good Award is a tangible outcome of the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to make optimal use of innovation and technology for the service of humanity. The UAE Drones for Good award exemplifies our commitment to setting global benchmarks in this endeavor,” said UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi.

“I congratulate the winners of this great competition, which showed the amazing ways we can use drones for good. All the entries have the capability to transform the world to make it a better place to live in and we are optimistic that they will continue to inspire new breakthroughs,” Al Gergawi added.

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