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DIAC Academic Partner, BITS Pilani, Dubai Campus participated as finalists for the third edition of ‘The UAE Drones for Good Award 2017’.

IORTA, a student-run robotics club from BITS Pilani, Dubai Campus participated as finalists for the third edition of ‘The UAE Drones for Good Award 2017’.

They finished 6th in the National Category for their idea ‘Smart Oil Spill solution using Drones’.Drones for Good Challenge Team resize

The UAE Drones for Good Award is an annual international competition which was created by the United Arab Emirates to foster a positive culture towards the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for civilian good.

The competition has both national and international categories. The prize money currently stands at 1 million USD for the international category and 1 million AED for the national category. ‘The UAE Drones For Good Award 2016’ had 1017 entries with participation from 165 countries out of which 10 teams were chosen for both international and national category. The competition requires that each team demonstrates a semi-autonomous or autonomous UAV which addresses a civilian need in various sectors including education, tourism, healthcare, civil defense, infrastructure, logistics, environment and others.

IORTA’s drone concept provides a fresh perspective to how an emergency oil spill response is carried out. Traditional oil spill techniques are slow, inefficient and involve huge monetary expenditure. However above all this is the question of the safety of people involved in the oil-spill curbing measures. The students at IORTA were motivated to create an in-situ autonomous solution which can assist in planning the oil-spill response as well help in direct reduction in the levels of oil.

They have used a quadcopter equipped with a custom 3-D printed funnel mechanism which can hold up to 3-5 kg of oil-absorbent. With the use of artificial intelligence, computer vision, and path planning algorithms, IORTA has developed a method to detect particular oil locations and show them on the map. The drone follows the trajectory which is created by the algorithm and sprays oil-absorbent on the detected oil locations. Keeping the scalability of the solution in mind, they have designed and built an innovative motorized oil absorbing pad to cater to large scale oil spills. Layers of mesh in this pad are filled with bio-degradable and non-toxic oil absorbent which is used to absorb the oil.

Students of IORTA faced a lot of challenges primarily because an oil-spill is a state of emergency and therefore IORTA took a lot of safety measures which include flying the drone at a safe height from the water and complete water-proofing of the oil-absorbent pad. IORTA believes that their drone can help curb oil spills and efficiently reduce its effects on environment, economy and tourism.

IORTA would like to thank BITS Pilani, Dubai Campus as well as Director of BITS Pilani, Dubai Campus, Prof. R.N Saha for the complete support in this project and for creating a favorable environment for innovation. A special thanks to Prof. Dr. R. Udayakumar for guiding the team throughout the project. IORTA hopes to collaborate with national as well as international agencies who are trying to clean up the world’s waters post oil-spills in the coming future.

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