Undergrad Teams Square Off in Unmanned Aircraft Competition


Leah Scully Machine Design

On July 1-2, unmanned aircraft ruled the sky throughout the Institute of Mechanical Engineers’ Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) challenge. Competition consisted of 13 teams of undergraduate students representing over thirteen universities across the UK participated in the first-ever UAS competition that took place at the engineering institution’s campus in London.

The challenge sets a hypothetical scenario, where a remote coastal area is hit by an earthquake and tsunami. The UASs are programmed to bring aid to the affected area, traveling through a series of waypoints and recognizing the supply-drop zone, successfully bringing relief to the affected area. The autonomous aircrafts must then follow a set course back to base in order to avoid other unmanned vehicles.

The multidisciplinary teams were presented with the rules of the competition in September 2014 and had an academic year to design, build, and test their UAS that would carry out the mission. At the competition, the teams presented a review of their design to a panel of judges and then competed in a ‘fly-off’.

The winners

The winner of the competition is a team from the University of Southamption. The victors demonstrated amazing resilience, fixing a broken wing after the plane crashed in its testing phase, days before the competition.