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Final six in Callaghan Innovation drone prize revealed

open this image in new window: CPrize website

This article was published on 24 July 2015

The best six UAV designs for the inaugural C-PRIZE have been revealed, with current and recent university students to the fore

Callaghan Innovation board chair Sue Suckling announced the six successful designs – and the most innovative student entry – at AUT University’s Motion Capture Lab in Auckland today.

C-PRIZE 2015 organiser, and Callaghan Innovation Aviation Sector Manager Chris Thomson says the finalists cover the full gamut of those involved in UAV development, with a start-up company, tertiary institutions and an individual enthusiast all making the cut.

“I’m especially pleased to see our tertiary sector so well represented in the final six.

“Of the six teams and individuals selected, one team is comprised of current University of Auckland students, one of former University of Auckland students and another of former Manukau Institute of Technology students. There is also a team of University of Auckland academics in the last six.

“It shows New Zealand’s tertiary institutions are focussed on study with commercial applications and growth potential, as well as fundamental research.”

The six teams will have $10,000 each and four months to take their designs and build, test and present a business pitch on a working prototype before the overall winner is announced on December 1.

The C-PRIZE will be awarded to the best UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle, aka: drone) meeting one or more of the challenges set by leading New Zealand film makers.

The prize is $50,000 as well as an expenses-paid trip to exhibit at the 2016 National Association of Broadcasters trade show in Las Vegas, the largest international trade show for media content and technology.

The three challenges are to reduce UAV noise (Purerehua challenge), increase stability (Marangai challenge) and improve automated object tracking (Eagle Eye challenge).

Callaghan Innovation will be supporting the six finalists with expert advice and coaching to take their ideas from the drawing board to commercial success. The C-Prize announcement follows yesterday's launch of new Civil Aviation Rules setting New Zealand as a leading location for UAV product and technology development.

The six finalists are:

Team Team Members Institution C-Prize challenge
Butler Robotics UFO Karl & Cathy Butler Start-up company Eagle Eye
Ruru UAV Dr Mike Kingan, Dr Yusuke Hioka & Dr Karl Stol University of Auckland Purerehua
Dotterel NRS Seamus Rowe, Shaun Pentecost, Matthew Rowe, Will Barker, Steve Barr Former students of Manukau Institute of Technology Purerehua
VorTech UAV Ben McLaren, Simon Corkery, Nishaad Salvapantula, Ryan Kurte Former students of University of Auckland Marangai
The Kestrel Project Russell Donovan Individual entrant Marangai
Horizon Dr Karl Stol, Jérémie Bannwarth, Jeremy Chen, Andrew Carrell, Morgan McCauley, Steven Jiang, David How University of Auckland Marangai

An additional award for the most innovative student entry goes to the University of Canterbury’s Scott Spooner, for the Vecta16 design.

Scott is a competitive UAV racer, as well as an instructor and examiner for people taking their competency licence to fly multi-rotor fixed wing aircraft.

Scott is planning to pursue a career in commercial UAV research and development.