A Ukrainian teen who developed a landmine-detecting drone while hiding up in his cellar has won a worldwide award.
Igor Klymenko, 17, was awarded the Global Student Prize for his drone that can detect mines without detonating them, possibly saving lives.
Igor Klymenko, 17, of Kyiv, Ukraine, won the Global Student Prize this year after beating off over 7,000 applicants from 150 nations.
“I am deeply humbled to receive this award today. But the truth is, everyone I know in my homeland is a hero who deserves to be recognized, and I dedicate this award to all of them,” Igor said on Tuesday after accepting his prize. “Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters. They are all doing extraordinary things. Many are on the frontline risking their lives, many are volunteering to prepare and deliver food, and many keep working to keep our country moving. But we're all fighting for our freedom.”
His landmine-detecting drone, known as the quadcopter mines detector, can assist in geolocating explosive materials and offering coordinates to within two centimeters of their location. The invention, which has two legitimate Ukrainian patents, can detect landmines without setting them off, possibly saving lives.
When the conflict in Ukraine started in 2014, Igor said that he wanted to find a way to assist his country.
“I started creating different devices for the mining territories, one of which was the quadcopter mines detector,” he said in an interview with Chegg.org, which organizes the Global Student Prize in collaboration with the Varkey Foundation.”
“There were a lot of challenges which impacted me in the development of my project,” Igor said. “The biggest of them was the war – the hostilities near my village. I was living in a basement with eight people and I was continuing working on my device.”
Igor received the $100,000 prize on Tuesday during the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York during UN General Assembly Week.
He intends to utilize the award money to improve his prototypes and create awareness about the worldwide landmine issue.
He is collaborating with investors and various organizations to get his device deployed in Ukraine, and he is improving the drone by incorporating new technologies such as spray paint to mark the location of a landmine and AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology to identify the type of landmine and the best course of action for safe removal.
Igor finished his schooling at the National Technical University of Ukraine's Kyiv Polytechnic Lyceum and has just begun studying computer sciences at the University of Alberta in Canada.
The Global Student Prize, a sister award to the $1 million Global Teacher Prize, was established last year to highlight the achievements of remarkable students who are altering the world for the better.
“Huge congratulations to Igor. In times of crisis, we need innovation and resilience to help overcome unimaginable adversity, and Igor's commitment to tackling the global landmine problem is truly inspirational,” Dan Rosensweig, president and chief executive of Chegg, said. “He is a thoroughly deserving winner of this year's Chegg.org Global Student Prize.”
“Now, more than ever, students like Igor deserve to have their stories told and have their voices heard. After all, we need to harness their dreams, their insights, and their creativity to tackle the daunting and urgent challenges facing our world.”
According to the UN, over 14.5 million people in Ukraine live in landmine-contaminated regions. It is believed that landmines have polluted at least 60 nations worldwide.
You can learn more about how drones are used for good here on DroneXL. And, let us know what you think about the landmine-detecting drone that Igor invented. We are curious to hear your thoughts.
Photos: Varkey Foundation/Igor Klymenko.
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