Humanitarians using life-saving drones honored at AUVSI Xponential

May 3, 2018  - By
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Five organizations that flew drones on critical, life-saving missions are winners of the inaugural XCELLENCE Humanitarian Award by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI).

The award, which is sponsored by DJI, was presented at the AUVSI Xponential 2018 conference at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

“We are thrilled to recognize and reward organizations who have utilized drone technology to make great contributions to their communities and the environment, through AUVSI’s inaugural Humanitarian Awards,” said Michael Perry, managing director of North America at DJI.

“We congratulate the winners and thank all those who have participated for sharing the innovative ways they use drones to support humanitarian and life-saving efforts around the world,” Perry said. “We hope this award will inspire more organizations and drone operators to accomplish great feats and help others in their community.”

In Rwanda, fresh blood is launched to a hospital using a Zipline drone. (Image: CNN video)

These first recipients of the AUVSI XCELLENCE Humanitarian Award were recognized for using drones for disaster management, medical assistance and search-and-rescue operations at locations around the world:

  • Aeryon Labs Inc.: Aeryon SkyRanger UAS provides critical aerial intelligence to first responders in Sint Maarten in the wake of Hurricane Irma (Canada).
  • DroneSAR, DroneSAR UAV Search & Rescue (SAR) Solution: Executing autonomous aerial search and delivering live drone data to augment first response efforts (Ireland).
  • Nepal Flying Labs: drone hazard and vulnerability mapping in Nepal (Nepal).
  • ONG DroneSAR Chile: Emergency response team and humanitarian aid through the use of drones (Chile).
  • Zipline International: Zipline’s medical drone delivery operation in Rwanda (Rwanda).

“As these organizations have shown, unmanned aircraft systems that are typically flown for commercial purposes are also capable of accomplishing vital humanitarian missions,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI. “With sophisticated on-board cameras and sensors, drones can quickly fly to remote locations or areas that are inaccessible to ground vehicles because of roads blocked by storm debris or flooding.”

The five organizations will equally divide a $25,000 donation as prizes for their ground-breaking humanitarian and philanthropic efforts.

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s sister website, Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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