Xponential 2018‘s final day in Dever ends on a high note, focused on an important topic in our industry – drones for good. This morning’s keynote addresses introduced the winners of the AUVSI XCELLENCE Humanitarian Awards, presented by AUVSI’s President and CEO Brian Wynne and DJI’s Managing Director of North America, Michael Perry. The awards presentation was followed with a panel discussion on unmanned systems responding to disasters.
After a hopeful and optimistic address by John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado – who assured us that government really can work together to get drone regulations done – the final keynote sessions continued with a presentation by Chris Hernandez, Sector Vice President, Research, Technology & Engineering at this year’s keynote sponsor, Northrop Grumman.
Hernandez has a long term view of unmanned technology, reviewing the development of unmanned systems in the military context for 8 decades. Hernandez points out that through cooperation with the military and other technology providers, unmanned technology has advanced – and close cooperation between government and industry is what will be required to continue development. Northrup Grumman, in addition to their military technology, is providing support to researchers in collaboration with San Diego Zoo Global to monitor polar bear populations in the extreme conditions of the Arctic circle.
The highlight of the session, though, was the presentation of humanitarian awards to a group of industry players leading the charge in drones for good. Perry’s introduction included the DJI report on lives saved with drones – more than 65 lives directly reported and attributed to the use of drone technology, although the actual number of lives saved through the assistance of drones is most likely far larger.
The winners in the Humanitarian category were:
Aeryon Labs Inc won for their efforts in providing critical aerial intelligence to first responders in Sint Maarten after Hurricane Irma.
DroneSAR UAV won for their Search and Rescue software solution, reducing the time to locate victims and reducing risk for search teams.
DroneSAR Chile is the first drone based search and rescue organization in South America.
Nepal Flying Labs won for their amazing work in earthquake-struck Nepal, providing maps of the area to help families locate loved ones and protect their homes.
Zipline International won for their innovative and global-first program delivering blood supplies to remote clinics in Rwanda by drone.
AUVSI has donated $5,000 to each one of the winners in order to help them to increase the scale of their operations.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.