Autonomous Flight (Preliminary Round)

Teams in the preliminary round utilize the drone’s autonomous flight capability. Using Scratch, Python, or applicable apps, participants code their drone to navigate various missions autonomously. Human control of the drone is not permitted during this time and the drone must operate and react only to sensor/camera inputs and to commands pre-programmed by the team.

Autonomous Missions

Two (2) teams fly at a time during the round. Each team will use one (1) half of the airspace.

Missions will vary from year to year

Various points will be assigned for each mission accomplished. It is a skills competition, not a race.

Missions do not need to be navigated in any specific order. Points are awarded based on successfully navigating individual missions.

Navigating through missions can be done collectively with a single autonomous program or individually with multiple mission programs, or any combination in-between.

No changes may be made to the autonomous programs during the round.

The round lasts 2-1/2 (2:30) minutes, and the timer never pauses.

Participants will be given up to two (2) attempts to achieve their best score based on the discretion of the event coordinator.

The autonomous missions, mission dimensions, mission locations within the netted airspace, and mission point values are posted in advance to allow teams to program before the competition.

(Click here to see the current autonomous missions.)

Airspace

All missions are flown within a netted airspace. The airspace consists of two (2) straight leg canopy tents fastened together to form a flying envelope approximately 20 ft. long x 10 ft. wide x 6 ft. high. Netting is hung to isolate the drones from participants and spectators (see Figures 1 & 2).

Figure 1: Drone Technology Airspace consisting of two (2) 10 ft. x 10 ft. straight leg canopy tents
Figure 2: Drone Technology Airspace consisting of two (2) 10 ft. x 10 ft. straight leg canopy tents

Pilot and Spotter

Only one (1) team member will be allowed in the pilot area. This team member will serve as the pilot and will start the autonomous program(s).

A second team member will serve as the spotter.

The spotter must remain outside the netted airspace while power is applied to the drone propellers.

If using multiple flights, the spotter may enter the netted airspace, pick up the drone from within the landing zone, and move it back to the helipad for an additional flight.

If the drone unintentionally stops outside the landing zone during the round and no power is applied to the drone propellers, the spotter may enter the netted airspace, pick up the drone, and move it back to the helipad for an additional flight. If the drone is handled outside the landing zone, there will be a penalty.

If the team consists of one (1) participant, the participant may act as both the pilot and the spotter.

More Information

To read the complete rules and guidelines for the autonomous flight round, please download the Event Guide.