Judges for the first ever Callaghan Innovation C-PRIZE have been blown away by the quality, creativity and sheer volume of entries, writes Chris Thomson.
New Zealand’s aerial innovators have been busy creating the next generation of UAV (aka drone) technology for the film industry.
Callaghan Innovation’s first ever C-PRIZE competition closed on the 5th July, receiving over 80 entries. The competition was open to students, innovators and entrepreneurs based in New Zealand. Three technical challenges were set by leading film-makers seeking to reduce UAV noise, increase stability and improve automated object tracking.
Competition organiser and Callaghan Innovation Aviation Sector Manager Chris Thomson says the level of interest and response has been amazing.
“The C-PRIZE has created a real buzz around the UAV industry and research community in New Zealand. The website received over 4000 unique visitors in 3 months!”
Kiwis are known for their innovative, problem solving skills and many of the C-Prize entries are testament to that. From cyclogyros to coanda craft, swarms to “sponge rays”, sensor fusion to neural networks, optical odometry and gyroscopic gimbals, the degree of invention is remarkable. C-PRIZE judge and long-time film maker Alex Funke (Lord of the Rings trilogy; Total Recall) has been blown away by the quantity and quality of truly game-changing concepts for the film industry.
“The challenge has led many sharp minds to consider the real problems we have in using UAV technology to make movies. The responses contain some excellent concepts, and shows real appreciation of the weak spots in current technology.”
More than 300 participants registered for the competition, with NZ entrants joined by team members from California, China, and Europe. The competition has also generated a lot of interest offshore with coverage by Gizmodo, Engadget, and France’s largest daily newspaper Le Monde. Callaghan Innovation has also received enquiries from offshore companies interested in UAV product development and testing in NZ.
The C-PRIZE judges now have their work cut-out as they score each entry on its technical feasibility and commercial proposition. Six finalists, each receiving a $10,000 cash prize, and a $15,000 UAV bonus prize, will be announced at the Auckland University of Technology on the 24th July.
The finalist will go on to develop prototypes for final testing in November, with the grand prize winner receiving $50,000 and an expenses paid trip to a trade show in Las Vegas.