x

Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 27 May 2018

The cutting edge of technology on show

Drones that can fly and travel under water, as well as support rescue efforts, are among the finalists of this year’s UAE Drones for Good competition.

Saed Al Bastaki, left, and Sultan Saif Al Suwaidi, members of the See in Sea team, at the UAE Drones for Good competition. Reem Mohammed / The National
Saed Al Bastaki, left, and Sultan Saif Al Suwaidi, members of the See in Sea team, at the UAE Drones for Good competition. Reem Mohammed / The National

DUBAI// Drones that can fly and travel under water, as well as support rescue efforts, are among the finalists of this year’s UAE Drones for Good competition.

In the national category of the semi-finals at the Dubai Internet City on Thursday, Buildrone’s construction and repair aerial robot drone, ReefRover’s drone for studying underwater ecosystems, and FlyLab’s drone for the education sector advanced into the finals.

The creators of FlyLab’s drone are Ibrahim and Mohammed El Badawi. The siblings built the machine with off-the-shelf parts to help students gain knowledge about the environment and support classroom learning.

“During our display, we used the drone to measure the atmosphere by taking various readings,” said Ibrahim. “But the great thing is that this technology can be used in a whole range of subjects like physics, art and other sciences.”

The ReefRover team’s drone was designed to aid marine research, while Buildrone impressed the judges with their machine that can detect damage to pipelines and conduct repairs.

The eventual winner will take home Dh1 million.

Saif Al Aleeli, the competition’s coordinator general, said innovation was key to building the future and using technology in the service of humanity.

“The drones sector is certainly in its early stages but we are confident it will evolve as a major contributor to the world economy.” said Mr Al Aleeli, who is also the chief executive of the Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation.

In the international category, which carries a top prize of US$1 million (Dh3.67m), 19 teams from around the world on Thursday competed amid the buzz of rotor blades in the air.

Loon Copter’s multi-rotor drone from America, 4Front Robotics’ USAR Robot drone from Canada, and SenseLab’s SaveME drone from Greece advanced into the finals.

Oakland University’s Loon Copter drone was the most unique of its rivals, thanks to its ability to fly and travel under water like a submarine.

“We believe it’s the world’s first flying and swimming drone and we’ve already had interest from law enforcement about the concept,” said Osamah Rawashdeh, the team leader and an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the university.

Besides surveying pipelines, the drone can also assist in search-and-rescue missions.

SenseLab’s project transforms a smartphone into a little drone to support people in emergency situations, particularly those who are trapped, lost or wounded.

Its rival, 4Front Robotics’s drone, is able to fly and navigate in highly confined spaces, and provide high resolution data in a matter of hours.

The finals will take place on Saturday.

nhanif@thenational.ae