Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge

3689563902?profile=originalThe Wells Fargo Bank of Great Falls honored Princess Aliyah with a Community Partner Grant for her efforts in bringing the world together in a Challenge to save rhinos from extinction. Princess Aliyah is CEO of Kashmir Robotics and sponsor of the Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge. Its goal is to develop UAVs optimized for protecting rhinos and other endangered species, and with over 100 Teams from over 20 countries and 6 continents participating in the Challenge, it is the world's largest distributed drone research project.

Kruger National Park in South Africa is the battleground in the fight to save rhinos from extinction, so the Princess took members of her Leadership Team deep into the battleground on a Fact Finding Mission during the full moon phase when the battle is most intense. Hosted by Major General (Ret.) Johan Jooste, Commander Special Projects SANParks, the Team received a morning briefing on the battle plan, then provided a short demonstration of Skate, a small UAV developed by Aurora Flight Sciences in Manassas, VA, reconfigured to help rangers more effectively engage poachers. Within minutes the Aurora Team began training Park rangers how to launch, operate, and recover Skate. Impressed with the simplicity of operation and quality of data, General Jooste requested the Princess bring Skate into the battle. Each night the Team traveled into remote regions of the Park and introduced UAVs for the first time in the struggle to stop poaching. From a remote army outpost on a hill near the border of Mozambique, Skate dove into a ravine, providing the first imagery every of this high risk area. From a Sector camp deep in the Park, Skate swooped low to provide imagery under a bridge where poachers pass during the night.

Registration for the Challenge is still open (www.wcuavc.com). Design concepts are due by Jan. 31, 2014.

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