$1 million cash prize for drone innovations


(Muaz Shabandri) / 11 February 2014

The UAE government announced a new international award worth $1 million for promoting innovation in drone development aimed at helping governments serve people better. Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs announced the new award on Tuesday at a special media briefing. 

‘We invite individuals, businesses and universities to work on their best ideas and look at innovative ways of improving the existing technology for drones. UAE wants to develop drone technology and help reduce the time taken for providing government services,’ he said.

A team of experts working closely under the supervision of the UAE Prime Minister’s Office has already tested the possibility of using unmanned aerial vehicles to provide government services. In three months, pilot tests and proposals have been evaluated for implementing this technology in the UAE.

Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/Khaleej Times

‘The world is becoming more technologically advanced and we believe in smart governance. It isn’t simply about using technology but it also includes looking at ways to improve government offerings,” said Gergawi.

Universities, businesses and individuals can participate in the award, which will be open in two categories – international and UAE. Innovators in the UAE can aim for a top prize of Dh1 million, while the international category will have a prize of $1million.

In a video demonstration of the current drones tested by the UAE government, a package carrying an Emirates ID card can be delivered from the ID center to a resident’s house.

‘Legislations are extremely important when it comes to using drones and we need to work with Civil Aviation Authority and other authorities before implementing these new technologies,” added Gergawi.

A jury of specialists and government officials will evaluate the entries and technical guidelines for the competition will be unveiled in two weeks. Entries will have to meet global safety standards and innovators will be challenged to create drones which can cover reasonable distances and remain reliable.

Contestants will also be expected to submit detailed proposals with the technical features and how it could help improve an existing government service.

Winners of the international competition will be announced at next year’s government summit in February 2015. The competition’s UAE edition would come to a close in May 2014.


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