Dubai's 'Drones for Good' competition enters finals

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Look at that drone go. (Images via Dubai government)

Dubai’s government is pushing engineers and entrepreneurs to create drones that address pressing social needs.

Over the last decade, drones have become synonymous with airstrikes. Indeed, purposes of war drove the rapid development of the unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few decades. Unmanned balloons launched by the Austrians in an attack on the city of Venice in the mid-1800s are believed to be the earliest examples of drones.

Incredible advances in nearly every area of technology, from GPS to digital cameras, have allowed weapons developers to create incredibly potent instruments of destruction. Dubai’s government is trying to leverage those advances into instruments for humanity. Examples of those efforts will be on display at Dubai Internet City February 6th to 7th, during the The UAE Drones for Good Award, where a panel of judges will evaluate 30 entries.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, officially launched the award in February 2014 at the Government Summit. He has said that technology should be used for the good and service of people.

Since then, more than 800 submissions have poured in from 57 countries, all of which presented a “human need” and proposed a solution. The solution must be progressive and utilize the most advanced civilian drone technology available, and perhaps most significantly, they must be able to build working prototypes within three years. One million dollars are up for grabs for engineers and entrepreneurs anywhere in the world who come up with “the best use of civilian drones for improving people’s lives.” One million UAE dirhams will go to UAE residents who come up with for the best use of drones for UAE government services. Even government entities are given the challenge of coming up with “the best government service using drones.”

Entries that advanced to the semi-finals run the gamut from drones that document and gather data on the UAE’s wildlife, to search and rescue applications, to delivery of social services in Nigeria’s congested slums.

Drones for Good is a big opportunity for Dubai and entrepreneurs working with drones. Which entries will take home the cash? We’ll know next week.

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