Congratulations to the NYU Abu Dhabi Wadi Drone team, which won first prize for the national portion of the Drones for Good competition, held last weekend in Dubai. Sophomores Martin Slosarik, Ting-Che Lin, Vasily Rudchenko, and Kai-erik Jensen, advised by Visiting Instructor and Research Associate Matthew Karau, topped hundreds of other submissions from over 50 countries. And they took home a prize of AED 1 million for their efforts.
The team conceived of their Wadi Drone project after visiting Wadi Wurayah National Park in Fujairah. There, rangers in the park embark on strenuous and dangerous hikes to retrieve memory cards from over 100 camera traps located throughout the park. Camera traps snap photos when they sense movement, and are used to monitor wildlife and the presence of poachers. But before the NYUAD team intervened, collection of the memory cards was dangerous, and costly.
With Wadi Drone, images are beamed wirelessly from the camera traps to the drone over head, saving time, resources, and, most importantly, protecting the lives of the rangers who work in this harsh territory. Slosarik explained: "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."
The technology the team developed can be modified and used in many other environments. For example, the system could be used to gather humidity data from remote areas of the Amazon, or salinity and water temperature information from buoys in the Arctic.
Working with the Emirates Wildlife Society, the team plans to use the AED 1 million award to implement the project in the park, and will look to expand the program regionally and internationally.