NYU Abu Dhabi Wadi Drone Team Wins National UAE Drones for Good Award

Martin Slosarik (Class of 2015) sends NYUAD's award-winning Wadi Drone into flight in a desert region near Abu Dhabi.

University team wins AED 1 million dirham prize at inaugural UAE Drones for Good Award program in Dubai

Press Release

New York University Abu Dhabi students have taken top honours at the national UAE Drones for Good Award with their Wadi Drone submission, which leverages commercial drone technology and proprietary software for wildlife conservation and environmental protection.

The Wadi Drone collects data in regions where deploying communications infrastructure would spoil the natural heritage, or present a human risk to physically retrieving data. The Wadi Drone is a fixed wing airplane with a 2.5​-metre wingspan carrying a small communications payload that retrieves information from ground-based scientific measurement devices.

Created by the UAE Government, the UAE Drones for Good Award invited the most innovative and creative minds from around the world to find solutions that will improve people’s lives and provide positive technological solutions to modern day issues. The National competition is dedicated to rewarding the best, most practical ideas for using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technologies to improve government services in the Emirates.

The Wadi Drone team is comprised of four NYUAD students: Martin Slosarik, Ting-Che Lin, Vasily Rudchenko, Kai-erik Jensen. Matt Karau, a visiting instructor and research associate, is the team’s faculty adviser. The team collaborated with the Emirates Wildlife Society and the country’s first national park, Wadi Wurayah National Park located in Fujairah, on the development of the Wadi Drone.

Martin Slosarik, studying electrical engineering at NYUAD, said, "We developed the idea for this project in careful consideration of where drones can and should exist to do good for the benefit of society. It is a great honor to win the national UAE Drones for Good Award, and we applaud the UAE Government and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai for creating a competitive environment that invites thinkers and tinkerers from around the world to deeply consider the role drones may play in achieving innovative solutions and positive outcomes for humanity."

In Wadi Wurayah National Park the drone flies over mountains and through valleys to wirelessly download photographs taken by ground-based camera traps that automatically capture images of wildlife as they pass in front of the camera’s motion sensor. The Wadi Drone serves the conservation efforts of the Emirates Wildlife Society both by increasing the rate at which photographic data of wildlife and potential poachers can be analyzed by experts, and by reducing the human risk associated with the current method of hiking to retrieve photos from remote camera traps. Wadi Drones further eliminate the need to employ an expensive helicopter to reach camera traps during the summer months when the heat makes it too dangerous to hike.

Working with the Emirates Wildlife Society, the team will use the AED 1 million prize to implement the Wadi Drone project in Wadi Wurayah National Park, and will look to expand the program regionally, and internationally.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.