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Fotokite takes home $1 million in Genius NY drone competition

Switzerland-based drone manufacturer, Fotokite took home the Grand Prize of $1 million in the Genius NY drone competition. Fotokite has developed a tethered unmanned aerial device that can stay in the air indefinitely. Not too long ago, CNN actually obtained FAA approval to fly this drone over people.

Fotokite wins $1 million Grand Prize

The Swiss drone maker won the Grand Prize in the Genius NY business competition on Monday.

Fotokite’s drones are tethered to the ground and if connected to a power source can stay in the air indefinitely. The drone can fly fully autonomously and provide a live video stream to the drone operators on the ground.

According to Fotokite’s CEO Christopher McCall, the drone is marketed to fire departments and law enforcement agencies but could also prove valuable to broadcasters and sports teams. In an interview with, McCall said:

“It flies all by itself, without the need for an operator, without the need for GPS.”

Fotokite CEO Christopher McCall receives the Grand Prize of $1 million.

The Genius NY competition, which claims to be the world’s largest drone pitch competition, had a total of $3 million in prize money available for the six finalists. A panel of judges decided the prizes after the team had made their presentations Monday evening in the Marriot Syracuse Downtown hotel. The competition is state-funded and the winning companies are required to operate their businesses in Central New York for at least one year.

According to, the other five finalists took home smaller but still significant cash prizes:

  • Quantifly, of Detroit, Mich., received $600,000. It uses advanced image processing technology to analyze and quantify changes in the urban environment.
  • TruWeather, of Virginia, received $400,000. It is building a service to improve the accuracy and communication of weather intelligence.
  • Dropcopter, of Corning, Calif., received $250,000. It has developed technology that allows farmers to pollinate orchards using drones.
  • Precision Vision, of Edgewood, N.M., received $250,000. It creates image processing technology that makes real-time precision imaging affordable.
  • UsPLM, of Syracuse, received $250,000. It develops integrated, scalable drone fleet management software for unmanned aerial systems operations.

Fotokite drone

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Photo: Rick Moriarty



Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo