Million-dollar contest launched to invent drones for UAE Government services

UAE Government is offering two prizes for the design of unmanned aerial vehicles that may monitor traffic, take part in emergency and humanitarian operations and deliver official documents.

Mohammed Al Gargawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, announced at the Government Summit that there will be prize money for those who win the competitions for inventing drones that deliver government services. Antonie Robertson / The National
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DUBAI // Fancy winning US$1 million or Dh1m?

Now is your chance as the Government is offering the prize money to anyone who can invent drones to deliver services.

The competition was launched by Mohammed Al Gargawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, at the Government Summit in Dubai on Tuesday.

Companies, universities, creative individuals and professionals will all be invited to participate in inventing unmanned aerial vehicles that can be used for civilian and humanitarian purposes.

The dollar prize money is part of an international competition, while the dirham fund will be for local inventors.

Potential applications include the delivery of government documents, traffic and infrastructure monitoring and services in health and education.

Mr Al Gargawi said the prize was to encourage Emiratis, expatriates and people around the world to come up with innovative ideas to improve public and humanitarian services.

“The main objective is to make life easier for citizens and residents,” he said. “What we are seeking is new technologies to provide services to citizens. We want the entire society to come up with innovative ideas.”

On the first day of the summit, the UAE authorities unveiled two prototypes of the drones that could be used to deliver “high value, time sensitive” vital Government documents, identification papers and medicines.

The minister said the UAE was committed to using technology for “civilian and peaceful purposes”.

“We want to put forward ideas for use in disasters and humanitarian crises.

The minister said that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, wanted the UAE to have the smartest and most effective Government in the world.

“We are committed to constant innovation in Government services because, ultimately, this is the surest way to improve quality of life for all citizens, residents and visitors,” said Mr Al Gargawi.

Potentially, drones could be used for traffic and infrastructure monitoring, he said, as well as health and education services.

“Our part of the world has great minds and we need to create platforms and opportunities and give incentives. We want smart applications and today, most smart applications come from students. Many of their ideas are being used in ministries. They are becoming partners with governments.”

He said the Government was always planning at least five years ahead.

“International research indicates that smart services are realistic and the ratio of use of mobile phones is among the highest in the UAE.

“We are public servants and it is our duty to listen. We want solutions that are sustainable. We have been examining the use of unmanned vehicles for the past three months and have decided that it is feasible for the UAE.”

The drones will be tested for six months before being used by the federal government. Fingerprint and eye recognition security systems will be used to protect the cargo and the drones.

The international competition will be overseen by experts in drone technology and Government officials.

The winner of the local contest will be announced in May, while the international winner will be announced at the Government Summit next year. The details of the contests are expected to be announced in the next two days.