Genius NY Competition Winners Inspire With Ingenious Drone-Tech Ideas

New York continues to foster drone-tech innovation with the Genius NY competition. Here are the winners, splitting nearly $3 million in prize money.

We recently reported on the Genius NY competition, in which six finalist drone-tech start-ups with the most ingenious ideas to expand the unmanned aerial vehicle industry would duke it out for a grand total prize of nearly $3 million. The state of New York recently established its first drone testing corridor, with Gov., Andrew Cuomo hoping to bring business and innovation in the UAV industry to the region. Looking at the six teams of finalists announced last December and the ideas brought to the table here is certainly another heartening development in that regard.

According to Unmanned Aerial, the $1 million grand prize winner in the second annual Genius NY competition is a Swiss start-up called Fotokite. This particular idea, which combines both aerial and ground-based autonomous tech, uses patented, in-house algorithms to achieve its goals. What Fotokite essentially developed here is a tethered drone system which allows a UAV to fully operate autonomously for 24 hours by attaching it to a ground-based system through a kite-like component. As with the runner-ups, or anyone willing to compete in the yearly Genius NY competition, Fotokite was required to operate its business in central New York for at least one year prior to signing up.

“This is tremendous support from the Genius NY program and CenterState CEO and a total game-changer for Fotokite,” said Chris McCall, Fotokite CEO. “We are excited to be expanding operations here to support our customers moving forward and will work hard to continue building on this early momentum. The other teams in the program have been great, and there are opportunities to work with them in the next phase of the Genius NY program.” Fortunately, the other finalists present at the event hosted by the Marriott Syracuse Downtown were equally as impressive in terms of presenting their ideas to the judges and live audience alike. Governor Cuomo, at least, was satisfied by the ingenuity on display.

“Genius NY II continues to build on the success of the first round of this groundbreaking competition,” said Gov. Cuomo. “By committing to creating a comprehensive network for innovative UAS (unmanned aerial systems) companies in central New York, we continue to grow central New York into a centralized hub for innovation to grow the region’s economy for years to come.” 

Michigan-based Quantifly, which reportedly placed second and won $600,000, focuses on reducing the cost of parking and traffic analyses by using unmanned aerial systems with machine vision and analytics. Virginia-based TruWeather, which garnered itself $400,000 and placed third, is attempting to refine weather intelligence and make it as accurate as possible through various drone technologies. 

The last three winners, Syracuse-based UsPLM, California-based Dropcopter, and New Mexico-based Precision Vision, all won $250,000 each. UsPLM developed a software environment to more efficiently test and deploy drones, while Dropcopter’s agriculture-centric system allows farmers to aerially pollinate orchards. Lastly, Precision Vision is hard at work on image processing tech that could make real-time processing more efficient. 

“We are still at the beginning of the program and look forward to several more months of helping these teams make industry connections and refine their technologies,” said Rick Clonan, VP of innovation and entrepreneurship at CenterState. “As we learned from the program’s first round, the coming months will be incredibly productive for these teams, and the resources we provide will be leveraged to drive further success and progress.” 

Overall, the Genius NY competition seems to have just provided six highly promising start-ups with the funding and resources they need to continue innovating in this industry, which should be considered a victory in itself. Congratulations to the winners and their hard work are certainly in order.