Student UAV Competition Grows

AUVSI and the Program Executive Office for Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aviation hosted the 4th annual student competition for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) on June 16-17, at the Patuxent River, Webster Field Annex, St. Inigoes, MD.  Eighteen colleges and universities from around the world participated this year, with seventeen flyers. They were:

  • Brigham Young University
  • Cornell University
  • Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (Autono)
  • Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (Hathor)
  • Istanbul Technical University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Mississippi State University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Polytechnic University of NY
  • University of California at San Diego
  • University of Colorado
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Manitoba, Canada
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Texas at Arlington
  • University of West Florida
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

The event began on June 14, with a tour of NAS Patuxent River, and event indoctrination that evening. The following day, students gave oral presentations with static displays, to two teams of judges. Teams were also judged on technical papers submitted two weeks before the competition. They had an opportunity for practice flights at Webster Field, but not before passing a system safety inspection. The flight competition was expanded to two days this year, due to the increased interest and participation. 

The student teams, judges, staff, and sponsors were met with near perfect weather for this years competition. The objective for the flying portion of the competition were for an unmanned, radio controllable aircraft to be launched and transition or continue to autonomous flight, navigate a specified course, use onboard payload sensors to locate and assess a series of man-made targets prior to returning to the launch point for landing. Each team was required to complete the task within 40 minutes.

This year, AUVSI awarded $29,500 in prize money. Prizes were awarded for various efforts to include the technical paper, oral brief, mission performance, and safety. 

The winners were: University of Manitoba, Canada (first place); Brigham Young University (2nd); University of Texas at Arlington (3rd); and, Virginia Polytechnic (4th).

The event concluded with an awards banquet. USN RADM Tim Heely, program executive officer for strike weapons and unmanned aviation, reminded the audience that Hurricane Katrina illustrated how useful UAVs can be, and that plans should be made to utilize them in such situations. He told the students, "you are each contributing in your own way. These ideas you are having could take you forward& they are your great ideas, and we are all counting on you."

Industry sponsors and the Navy have been strong supporters of the student UAV event. 

The competition allows both industry and government officials to talk to the next generation of unmanned systems designers and developers in an informal environment.  It also allows the students, most of who have either graduated or are entering their senior year, to talk with industry and government personnel about career options in the unmanned systems industry. Through the years, a number of students have become employed in the area, either with the Navy or one of the industry sponsors.


Source: Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)
Article by AUVSI Staff
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