In Brief
A $1 million competition in the UAE is looking to encourage humanitarian based innovation and find the drone initiatives that are helping make the world a better place.
The Future of the Drone

Drones are (rather quickly) taking over the world. According to Market Research Reports, it is expected that the value of the drone market in the world will reach over $27.1 billion by 2021, that’s an increase of almost 800%. However, the way that the drone market unfolds—how we will use the technology—has yet to be determined.

Will drones be placed firmly in the military sector, where they will be used as weapons of war? Or will we aspire to use the tech to do something better?

Key players are beginning to have their say, and it seems that the United Arab Emirates is hoping to sway the drone field towards a more altruistic path.

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The Drones for Good Award was developed by the UAE in order to encourage people to harness drone technology to make people’s lives easier. This year, the award attracted 1,017 entries from 165 countries, and these entries included some of the world’s most renowned universities—Harvard, MIT, Oxford, and Khalifa University, just to name a few.

When you think of humanitarian aid, most probably don’t jump to drones. However, in fact, they can be useful in carrying out complicated and difficult tasks in areas such as firefighting, construction, agriculture, and they can even help save our trees (and maybe even our planet).

The Drone for Good award is meant to highlight and encourage such innovations.

Humanitarian Drones

The submissions were broken down by category, such as health care, construction, education, humanitarian aid, and several others. Soon, the organizing committee will announce the names of 10 applicants from each category to progress to the next round. Those selected will be eligible to participate in the semi-finals at the International and National competitions.

You can see an overview of some of last year’s (2015) top competitors in the video below.

Ultimately, the contestants are evaluated on several different areas. These focus on how safe, effective, and economical the drone is, as well as the degree of the positive impact that they will likely have. The International Competition offers US$ 1 million in prize money while the National Competition offers AED 1 million

In the press release, H.E. Mohammed Al Gergawi, who is the Minister of Cabinet Affairs and also the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the UAE Drones for Good Award, highlights the rational behind the award, saying it is meant to encourage “exploring future technological developments and employing them in the service of humanity.”

He adds that the overall goals are also to help technology progress in meaningful ways, saying that they hope to “enhance the status of the UAE as a global leader in the field of science and technology by adopting the culture of innovation and taking advantage of available technologies to improve human life in several key areas.”

And in the end, there are a number of innovators who are working on practical ways that drones can be used to try and make life better. Hopefully, projects like the Drones for Good award will help to inspire similar innovations, and it will be exciting to see the projects that are unveiled in this year’s competition.