Verizon has named a prototype lifeguard drone as one of 12 finalists of the 2015 Powerful Answers Award contest, which will award three $1 million prizes to the winners on Dec. 9 in San Francisco.
This year’s contest consists of three categories (emergency response, Internet of Things and transportation), with a top prize of $1 million up for grabs in each category. One first runner-up and two second runners-up in each category will receive $500,000 and $250,000 prizes, respectively, for a total of $6 million awarded by Verizon.
According to Verizon, SafeAtlas of Plano, Texas, combined an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), communication modules and a collapsible floatation device to save swimmers in distress.
A wearable emergency device worn by the swimmer wirelessly sends out signals and a GPS location to the lifeguard drone to activate the rescue operation. Additionally, lifeguard drones could patrol over water to detect drowning people by sending video to a monitoring network. Once a swimmer in distress is identified, the lifeguard drone flies directly above the swimmer and releases the collapsible floatation device.
Verizon says 1,400 entrepreneurs entered the Powerful Answers Award contest in April.
“It’s always exciting to meet these founders and entrepreneurs and share in their enthusiasm for problem solving,” says John Doherty, Verizon’s senior vice president of corporate development and Verizon Ventures. “These winners have not only developed potential world-changing technologies, but they are leading promising companies in a time when the space is incredibly competitive.”