Meet 2017 The Hague Innovator Hack the Planet:

"Let’s use high-tech to improve our planet"

Startup Hack the Planet won first prize in the The Hague Innovators competition this year. We talked to founder Floris Van der Breggen about their winning concept, the GroundHawQ, and their plans for the year ahead.

“The The Hague Innovators Challenge turned out to be just what we needed. Winning first prize gave us that extra bit of support and a firm push in the right direction,” engineer Floris Van der Breggen explains. “It allowed us to start development on the GroundHawQ.”

Self-driving drone GroundHawQ

Hack the Planet is developing the GroundHawQ, which is a low-cost, 3D-printed and self-driving drone. It can be used for a wide range of activities, depending on the additional technologies that are installed. Functionalities can range from mobile medicine kits to thermal cameras. Think of surveillance work in African national parks to prevent poaching, or the complex logistics of providing timely first aid during marathons.

The prize money of 30,000 Euros has allowed Hack the Planet to fund the entire development and production of the first GroundHawQ prototype. “Because the prototype can be tweaked to serve many different purposes, getting prospective clients to fund the core development of the robot proved to be extremely difficult,” Floris explains.

The GroundHawQ is a low-cost, 3D-printed, self-driving robotic platform

Eager to get started

“That’s why winning the competition was awesome,” he says, “it has taken away a major obstacle for us. We can now develop the prototype independently with our fellow nerds at Q42 and go to market with a finished product. This has lowered the threshold for potential buyers tremendously. We can now offer the finished prototype to prospective clients, and start developing the specific functionalities they require from there.”

Team GroundHawQ is eager to get down to business. “We are very excited about the GroundHawQ and can’t wait to get started,” Floris says, “but envisioned partners, like the International Red Cross and UNICEF, need time to build support within their ranks. So, for the moment, we’re trying our best to be patient.”

Real worldwide impact

As soon as they have finalized several projects with the GroundHawQ prototype, they will start looking into scaling the project. “We would love to build an open source consumer version. That way, anyone can build a GroundHawQ. And since its uses are endless, we could make real worldwide impact. We’re very excited about that prospect.”

The The Hague Innovators Challenge has pushed Team GroundHawQ to come up with a real, working version of their idea. “This simple fact gave us so much credibility in the market,” Floris says. “What’s more, participating in the challenge has boosted our confidence. It’s been great to see our project being received so positively and it has energized us to keep going full force.”

Are you curious about where GroundHawQ will be hitting the ground this year? Keep an eye on Hack the Planet by checking into their website or by following them on Facebook.