Drone Social Innovation Award Winners

15 September 2014

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The first winners of the inaugural “Drone Social Innovation Award” are a landmine detection project and a project providing aid to disaster victims in the Philippines. The two drone projects were selected from dozens of applicants and will split the $10,000 cash prize.

These projects represent some of the most exciting and important ways people are using drones to make the world a better place,

said award organizer, and Drone User Group Network founder, Timothy Reuter.

The $10,000 cash prize was created to ‘spur the creative use of low-cost drones for socially beneficial causes’. Entries ranged from people using drones to teach STEM skills to kids on the autism spectrum, collecting whale snot for marine conservation research, and recording the size of protest movements in countries that are trying to suppress dissidents.

What’s most exciting to us about this technology is that as drones become cheaper and easier to use we are seeing innovation being driven by individuals and non-profits in addition to the traditional government and big business users. 

Reuter said.

Entrants were judged on the depth and breadth of their project’s social impact. And all drones had to cost less than $3000, with the idea that other individuals or community groups could replicate the initiative.

Award winner Charles Devaney, the Global UAV Program Director at Linking the World, said:

Our work has focused on using UAVs to provide NGOs and first responders with imagery for immediate situational awareness in disaster response settings such as after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. We decided to participate in this competition to share the work we were doing with a wider audience. The prize money will help us update our equipment for the upcoming storm season, and to expand the countries we are able to support.

There are over 70 countries that have landmines buried in their soil with new victims from these weapons every year. Current methods of detection are slow and dangerous, so we developed a new method to detect mines from the air that doesn’t put people at risk.

said Marc Beltram of CATUAV, the other award winner.

The Drone Social Innovation Award was organized by the Drone User Group Network, an association of community organization dedicated to teaching people how to use unmanned aerial vehicles, and sponsored by the UAS America Fund and NEXA Capital Partners.  

We are happy to support encouraging the next generation of socially beneficial applications of UAVs,

said Matthew Bieschke, President of the UAS America Fund, which is in the process of raising billions of dollars for investment in commercialization of the growing unmanned aircraft market.

Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, founder of Women in Robotics and is a mentor, investor and advisor to startups, accelerators and think tanks, with a strong interest in commercializing socially positive robotics and AI.
Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, founder of Women in Robotics and is a mentor, investor and advisor to startups, accelerators and think tanks, with a strong interest in commercializing socially positive robotics and AI.

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