The deadline for the Nemo Drone Prize, which aimed to prove the humanitarian and disaster-relief capabilities of drones, and especially low-cost DIY Drones, passed without submissions. But I'm hardly considering this a failure.
An update on the Nemo Drone Prize, from my website MentalMunition.com:
It hasn't been a good month for domestic drones in the United States. Lawmakers in Texas, Oregon, Missouri, and elsewhere recently introduced anti-drone legislation that could cripple commercial and humanitarian drone use in the United S... Journalism, that stuff that provides the essential flow of information for a democracy, could be hampered.
Couple that with delays in the federally-mandated process to integrate unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace, and you've got a problem that not only threatens a potential economic boost of $90 billion, but also shuts out life-saving technology.
I wanted to do something about it. I was preparing for a business trip to Washington DC by way of Boston, which is how I came to know a historic blizzard could slam the region and derail my travel plans. I had learned that governors in four states were ordering citizens not to use the road.
Travel, even by emergency vehicles, would be hampered severely. Well, perhaps emergency vehicles that drove on roads. But maybe not ones that flew in the sky.
I didn't have enough time to set up a Kickstarter for a drone that would help out during the blizzard. But there are many DIY drone enthusiasts in that part of the country, and surely someone out there could demonstrate that drones can provide essential services. Maybe one of them could program their drone to drop off an "emergency package."
I thought a prize would be a better format. Much like the X-Prize, which gives awards for technological achievements for space travel and oil spill cleanup, this would reward people for trying to make technology work for humanity. But this would reward people for proving that drones can be used for good.
So I did what I could. I withdrew $60 from my own bank account, and fired off a blog post. I copied the post on other online communities.
Then something unexpected happened. Over the next 24 hours, I received emails from other people in the community who believed in this vision and wanted to help.
Walter Volkman of Micro Aerial Projects LLC matched my $60. Then, Adam Sloan of BirdsEyeView threw in $100. Gary Mortimer of sUASNews.com pledged $120. Michael Shimniok of Bot-Thoughts.com contributed $20. Kévin Bouchard, a robotics coordinator and a student in computer science, also contributed $20.
One day after I launched the contest, the prize pot had grown more than six times its original size, to $380.
I'd like to thank the following sponsors for helping make the prize possible:
As the post reads, many of us involved in the prize are considering re-starting the challenge and making this thing systemic, but with introducing different parameters. The goal will still be centered around humanitarian or disaster-relief via drones or UAS.
If you've got any suggestions as to what the next goal for the Nemo Prize would be, please do comment here or send an email to email@example.com. Also looking for more sponsors, if this is something you'd like to get behind.
Although we didn't get any submissions, I was still able to snap some aerial photos above Massachusets. Visit the post to see more photos.