New York – The Drone User Group Network (DUGN) announced the creation of the Drone Social Impact Award at the Drones and Aerial Robotics Conference last weekend at New York University. DUGN will be providing a cash prize for the most socially beneficial, documented use of a drone costing less than three thousand dollars. Through this prize, the group hopes to spur innovation, investment, and attention to the positive role that civilian drone technology can play in society.
“We think drones are a revolutionary technology with tremendous potential to make the world a better place, and we wanted to focus our prize on low cost drones to highlight the fact that this technology is cheap and accessible enough that ordinary people and community groups can drive innovation and do new things with them,” said Timothy Reuter, Founder of DUGN and President of the DC Area Drone User Group. “Also, while the U.S. has decided to put a moratorium until 2015 on realizing the economic benefits of drones, now is a great time to think about services that you can give away to help people,” he noted, referring to current Federal Aviation Administration regulations that prohibit the private commercial use of unmanned aerial systems.
Submissions for the prize are being accepted through March 10 with the award being granted in May 2014. The group expects to receive entries in a number of fields including natural resource management, search and rescue, exposing government corruption, and delivery of vaccines in remote areas of developing countries. “We kept the definition of ‘socially beneficial’ intentionally broad because we didn’t want to limit people’s creativity,” Reuter explained. The competition is international with people and organizations from anywhere in the world being eligible to win the award. Participants are asked to submit short YouTube videos along with a brief write up of their work.
The Drone User Group Network is an association of community organizations dedicated to teaching people how to build and operate their own drones and that seeks to promote the use of civilian drone technology for the benefit of humanity. More information about the network and prize can be found at dugn.org/prizes . This prize is being administered in cooperation with Nova Labs, an innovation hub in the Washington, DC area. More information about Nova Labs can be found at www.nova-labs.org .