UAV/UGV-related Innovation Prize(s) for the Oil & Gas Industry?

Tim Harford, in Adapt, talks eloquently and favourably about the use of innovation prizes to spur innovative thinking.  He concludes that, hands-down, it's the most cost-efficient way to conduct research and development.  The success of the Kramer prize and the various X-Prizes, as significant examples, also demonstrate the ultimate effectiveness of the approach.  More recently, the DARPA-sponsored UAVForge event was intended to provide an incentive to solve the intractable 'perch-and-stare' requirement.  Although the prize was not claimed, it seemed to drive some very innovative thinking.

What I'm trying to determine the level of interest in one, or maybe even a series of innovation prizes aimed at driving innovation and deployment of UAV/UGV technology in the oil & gas industry.  There is no pre-conceived notion as to what the applications might be, but the one that most use as an example is pipeline and facilities inspection.  But realistically, any of the dull/dirty/dangerous jobs of the oil & gas industry would be candidates for a competition.

I would be very interested in hearing the membership's thoughts on this topic.  In particular, what specific tasks would be valid for such competitions, the level of award that would get potential participants attention...in fact, anything which would help evaluate the idea.  Thanks very much for your help.

(Photo courtesy of djmacpherson)

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Comment by Gary Mortimer on February 21, 2013 at 10:44am

Well we are rolling out the next round of T3 comps I really should put a post up about it look on the right of here for what has happened before.

For any competition you have to remember you must stay within VLOS and 400' and under.

The only comp that has really caught the worlds imagination has been the Outback Challenge, Oh and the Chinese carrier landing one.

Comment by Terence C. Gannon on February 21, 2013 at 11:55am

I should have spotted that, and my apologies for you have to point that out, Gary.  But along these same lines, do you know of a relatively complete list of all the various UAV/UGV prizes that are out there?

Also, thank you for the comment "you must stay within VLOS and 400' and under".  Because dreaming is free, I have this idea the final fly-off could be held at one of the testing ranges (PDF) available here in Alberta, which are described in a little more detail here.  I have not contacted CCUVS in this regard, so if there is somebody here who represents them, perhaps they could add their comment as to whether this is even vaguely feasible?

Thanks again, Gary.

Comment by LanMark on February 21, 2013 at 12:03pm

I love the idea of competitions.. or crowd sourced idea sessions..  there are all sorts of interesting things one can do with different optical payloads.... we have thousands of miles of piplines and other utilities that could be analyzed using aerial optical equipment.. you could detect leaks, or stress fractures, etc.

Most competitions are teams of people going at it..  while that is pretty sweet.. at times personally would rather output some ideas, get feedback, revise and such.. such as crowd sourcing... like IdeaStorm.com sort of crowd sourcing.

Comment by Bryan Galusha on February 21, 2013 at 9:53pm

I agree competitions are a great way to spur innovation.  I can't wait to see competitions that really promote open source and integration.  Something like a secondary prize for whoever has the most code in the top 10 finalists.  So that even if your team doesn't win you can write some amazing SW that everyone can benefit from.

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