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The Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight and Payload Challenge

Posted January 14, 2018

In near future, drone-based rainforest monitoring systems could largely replace manual operations, thereby cutting on costs and labour investment. Image credit: Walter Baxter via, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Join us for this exciting UAS (unmanned aerial systems) prize competition using your ingenuity and hardware build expertise to create a concept for a UAS prototype. The result of the UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) Flight and Payload Challenge will support the public safety community and its stakeholders.

One of the barriers for UAS used in a public safety realm is payload versus flight time. Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAS provide many different mission capabilities, but their flight time is limited. The payload capacity, energy source and flight time are linked through design trade-offs that can be optimized for efficiency and flexibility. This challenge is designed to keep the UAS and its payload airborne for the longest time possible to support first responders’ communication technology on the ground while they conduct their search. The advancement of UAS research will help search and rescue operations support payloads for wireless communications or other life-saving goods to save lives.

NIST Public Safety Communications Research Program is hosting this 3-stage challenge, with prize awards totaling $432,000 (includes travel, prototype & cash prizes) for the top 10 designs.  In addition to the cash prize, finalists will showcase their UAS and flight skills with paid travel to the NIST Robotics Lab and the 2018 PSCR Stakeholder conference, where pilots will demonstrate their prototype, engage in speaking opportunities and network with 500+ attendees. There are no fees or qualifications needed to enter the first stage.  The Stage 1 winning ideas will be eligible for remaining stages of the competition.


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