'Loon Copter' wins $1M in UAE Drones for Good Awards

Published February 7th, 2016 - 04:25 GMT
The Loon Copter can operate in the air and underwater. (Ingenieur.de)
The Loon Copter can operate in the air and underwater. (Ingenieur.de)

A drone that detects and repairs leaks in pipelines and a multi-purpose drone that can submerge itself in water have soared (and dived) to victory in the second edition of the UAE Drones For Good Awards.

An AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Robotics Award for Good held concurrently was won by the Al Murshid Al Thaki (Arabic for 'Smart Guidance System for the Blind') robot and by the UC Berkeley Suit-X, an exoskeleton system designed to improve the physiological gait development of children.

Three drones each competed in the national and international finals of the drones competition, alongside three entries each for the national and international portions of the AI and robotics competition. Winning national entries will be awarded Dh1 million each, while international winners will receive $1 million.

The team with the winning national drone - the 'BuilDrone' - was led by Talib Muhammad Alhinai, an Emirati PhD candidate at Imperial College London, and supervised by Dr Mirko Kovac.

"Usually leaks are repaired manually. Humans will go there, the facility needs to be shut down and it takes time. It can be very dangerous for humans and very costly and its labour intense and complex," Kovac told Khaleej Times. "What we offer is a solution. A drone can go to the site, inspect where the leak is, inspect the damage, and then repair it on-site without any human intervention."

Kovac noted that the Dh1 million will allow the team to expand on their idea.

By Bernd Debusmann Jr. 

 


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