A humanitarian organization in Texas and a remote sensing company in Spain have been announced as the winners of the Drone Social Innovation Award for creating the most socially beneficial, low-cost unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The Drone User Group Network (DUGN), NEXA Capital Partners and the UAS America Fund have awarded a shared cash prize of $10,000 to Linking the World, an international humanitarian aid group in Dallas, and to CATUAV, a Barcelona-based company dedicated to Earth observation using UAVs.
Applicants were evaluated based on criteria that covered the depth and type of social impact the use of UAVs could bring to communities. The award also required that the total cost of the drone be less than $3,000, with a preference for higher ratio of social benefits to cost of equipment.
CATUAV’s content submission was for its use of drones to detect landmines. “There are over 70 countries that have landmines buried in their soil, with new victims from these weapons every year,” says Marc Beltram of CATUAV. “Current methods of detection are slow and dangerous, so we developed a method to detect mines from the air that doesn’t put people at risk.”
Linking the World focused on UAVs that “provide [non-governmental organizations] and first responders with imagery for immediate situational awareness in disaster response settings such as after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines,” says Charles Devaney from Linking the World.
“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,” he explains.
The winners were recognized at the Drone User Group Networking Conference in Dallas on Sept. 15. The Drone Social Innovation Award initiative was originally formed to spur innovation, investment and attention for the positive role that civilian drone technology can play in society.
Other four finalists submitted projects relating to marine mammal research, crowd size estimation, environmental conservation, and development of social and visual thinking skills for children with autism.
Matthew Bieschke, president of the UAS America Fund, says, “Although our fund is targeting long-term investment in major commercialized UAS opportunities and the provision of a nationwide supporting infrastructure, encouraging and incubating the development of UAV applications is critical to the success of the market in the U.S.”
The DUGN, an association of community organizations, teaches people how to build and operate their own UAVs and promotes the use of civilian UAV technology for the benefit of humanity. NEXA Capital Partners provides advisory and banking services to companies in the aerospace and infrastructure sector and makes strategic investments in high-growth opportunities in these sectors. UAS America Fund was established to provide $2.2 billion in financing to benefit the emerging commercial drone sector of the U.S. aerospace industry.