Since their invention, drones have been associated with warfare, espionage and other undercover military operations. People – the common man and those in the government alike – have been wary of drones.
While drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are most used in combat today, they also have the potential for making human lives less complex and more efficient.
There’s a need to bring about a shift in the current perception about drones.
And that’s what the UAE Government attempted to do with its Drones For Good Award.
Launched in October 2014, The UAE Drones For Good Award was a contest run by the UAE Government, calling innovators to submit working prototypes of drones that could be developed into fully functional systems within the next three years.
This social innovation campaign initiated by the UAE Government aims to raise awareness about the positive benefits of this cutting-edge technology, and to collaborate with the brightest minds for groundbreaking innovation.
“We want to reach to people before they reach us. We want to save time, to shorten distances, to increase effectiveness and to make services easier.”, said Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai while launching the award.
Participation was open to International and National audiences and those employed with the UAE Government. With a prize money of US $1 million and AED 1 million (for the National participants), the contest saw participation from across the globe.
The winners from each of the categories were announced on February 8th, 2015 at the final event.
Click here to view the winners.
The mention of drones usually raises red flags – concerns about privacy and safety of civilians and governments. There’s no denying though that these machines in the sky will become a common sight in the coming years. According to one estimate, there could be as many as 30,000 drones (small and big) in the American airspace by 2020.
Drones can be used to provide real-time aid to areas affected by international crisis. It can also benefit daily human lives in unprecedented ways.
E-commerce giant Amazon, for example, is looking into ways to use drones for quicker deliveries to customers – an astounding 30 minutes from placing the order!
Click here for an infographic on the future of drone delivery
This initiative by the UAE Government is noteworthy for its effort at rebuilding the image of drones in the public mind. More awareness of the good these machines are capable of can lead to more minds coming together to facilitate that good.
The Drones for Good Awards is seen as a social and scientific initiative for the larger benefit of humanity – a step that positions the UAE Government as a supporter of tech innovation.
See how farmers are using drones for agriculture here
This post is a part of our People’s Insights brief for January-February 2015 – Inspiring Innovations