When we launched the Unusual Solutions Competition back in June, we wanted to find the innovators using drones and data to address their communities’ most pressing challenges. In particular, we encouraged solutions surfaced from areas that typically receive lower investment and have higher barriers to entry—Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Applicants didn’t need to be technical drone experts, nor even own a drone. They had to understand the challenge that they wanted to tackle and possess in-depth knowledge of the communities that they aim to serve.
We called, and you answered. Over the past few months, we’ve received interest and ideas from nearly 1,000 people around the world, from Argentina to Australia, from Venezuela to Vanuatu. Each of the ideas we received aimed to address one of three challenges:
- Drone & AI Tools: Creative solutions to adapting drone and AI technology to the needs and contexts of the Global South are urgently needed.
- Last Data Mile: Current solutions mainly don’t take into consideration the needs of local beneficiaries. Let’s find solutions that close the feedback loop in an intuitive and low-tech way that is fitting for non-data experts.
- Drone & Data Ethics: Drone use raises a range of ethical challenges when used for social good, such as market access for local drone experts. Costs, regulations, certifications and outright discrimination all create immovable barriers to entry for participants in social good projects. Or consider the ethical issues from AI bias or data collection. Beyond these illustrative examples dwell additional challenges—potential solutions to which we invite from participants.
To review and score each of the fascinating ideas we received, we recruited an expert panel of judges. We are thrilled with the group that we assembled, reflective of the diversity of the ideas that we received, and embodying the innovative spirit of the finalists whom they will select. Meet our jury panel here.
The judges will comb through each of the applications received during the Ideation phase (which officially ends September 8th, so submit your ideas now!) to determine the nine finalists who will proceed to the Competition. Later this month, we’ll announce the finalists, each of whom will receive a grant of USD 15,000 to turn their ideas into concepts over the following four months. Additionally, mentors will support the finalists in further refining their concepts and a compelling pitch.
We look forward to sharing more about the finalists soon. In the meantime, subscribe to WeRobotics updates to keep up with the latest Unusual Solutions Competition and other news.