His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum presents the winner’s cheque to the UC Berkeley Suit-X team, whose exoskeleton system designed to boost physiological gait development in children, won the AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Robotics Award for Good in the international category, in Dubai yesterday. The contest was held alongside the UAE Drones for Good Award. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: A team which crafted a drone that can detect and repair pipe leaks and another which created a drone that can dive under water won the UAE Drones for Good Award this year.

The winners of the AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Robotics Award also included a team that created a robot which helps guide people with visual impairment and a team that created affordable exoskeletons for children with neurological disorders.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, presented the winners with their awards in Dubai on Saturday.

In a statement on the occasion, Shaikh Mohammad said that recognising innovative minds, transfer of knowledge to the youth and utilisation of modern technologies in serving humanity is “our message and goal of these awards”.

Shaikh Mohammad said: “The UAE encourages investment in human resources in order to innovate applications that help advance human community. Significant changes and challenges seen by the world today requires us all to unify our efforts in utilising modern technologies to achieve one goal, which is achieving human happiness and serving humanity.”

Shaikh Mohammad noted that this can only be achieved through innovative and creative initiatives to find solutions that enable man to face all the challenges that have stood as a barrier in the face of his progress and achieving his wishes and aspirations.

“I am extremely happy to see this elite group of creative minds and young talent coming from around the world to meet today in our country to present their innovative ideas. I was heartened when I saw young UAE students and innovators who compete with creative projects as they reaffirm that innovation is an approach adopted by the UAE people, and is its way towards leadership and excellence.”

Shaikh Mohammad said that the awards convey a message from the UAE to the entire world — a message of love, peace and support for the good of all humanity.

The winners in the international category of the UAE Drones for Good Award were Loon Copter’s–USA. They won for their drone, which can operate under water.

The winner of the national category were the BuilDrone team who devised a drone that can detect and repair leaks in pipelines.

Recognised in the national category of the AI and Robotics Award for Good was Al Murshid Al Thaki (smart guider), a project that helps the blind avoid obstacles, identify places or objects and navigate from one place to another.

The award in the international category went to the UC Berkley Suit-X for its Affordable Exoskeletons for Children with Neurological Disorders aimed at quickly promoting walking skills among children.

The UAE Drones for Good Award is the biggest award of its kind, offering a total prize money of Dh4.67 million ($1 million for the international competition and Dh1 million for the national competition).

Launched by the UAE Government during the second Government Summit in 2014, the awards aim at making optimal use of technology to serve humanity and create happiness within the community.

Gulf News interviewed the winners who expressed the hope that winning the award would help bring their prototypes to life.

Faculty adviser at Imperial college, Dr Mirko Kovac, who supervised the BuilDrone project, said their robot will help preserve resources and the environment.

“Our drone prevents leaks in pipes; to carry out a repair, such as a leak in a pipeline, or a cracked road surface, or a leaking roof tile, a robot flies close to the damaged area and deposits a sealant material. This helps dangerous liquid from leaking and also helps save the environment,” he said.

Osamah Rawashdeh, the project leader of the Loon Copter team from Oakland University in the US, explained that the versatile drone can serve a variety of uses.

“It’s a unique vehicle. It’s 3 in 1 basically. It can fly, or operate on the surface of the water, and then can dive underwater like a remote control submarine. Some of the applications that people have approached us with are monitoring of oil spills, for search and rescue, inspection of bridges, or to see whales or sharks approaching, and carry shark deterrents, he said.

Team member of Al Murshid Al Thaki, Mundher Al Shihab, from Ajman University said his project offers to help the blind avoid obstacles, identifying places or objects and navigating from one place to another.

“The system can detect obstacles within a distance of up to five metres, gently guiding blind individuals around the obstacles using a combination of five vibrators,” he said.

Al Shihab said the prize money will help develop their invention by making its size smaller and easier to use.