3D Robotics


Run with LocalMotors. Enter here:


  • The design shall be capable of vertical takeoff and landing

  • The aircraft shall include at least one fixed wing for forward flight

  • Maximum takeoff mass (MTOM) shall be below 25 kg: Vehicle weight when fully loaded < 25kg

  • The maximum wing span shall be below 5 meters and the maximum aircraft length shall be below 4 meters

  • The aircraft shall be modular for the ease of transportation.  The maximum length of the individual parts shall not be longer than 2 meters

  • Payload range requirement:

    • 5 kg payload: > 60 km range

    • 3 kg payload: > 100 km range

  • Payload bay:

    • A single payload bay shall be located near the aircraft center of gravity

    • Minimum payload bay dimension shall be 450 x 350 x 200 mm

    • The payload bay shall be located and accessible from the lower side of the aircraft and must be interchangeable with payload bay of same size and same interface. (Payload concept shall be modular to fulfill applications different from the cargo use case. e.g. sensor payload)

  • The cruise speed in fixed wing mode shall be at least 80 km/h

  • Max speed shall not exceed 194 km/h

*Can be electronically limited

  • The aircraft shall use at least 4 direct drive lift rotors/propeller but not more than 10 direct drive lift rotors/propellers

  • For energy storage off the shelf rechargeable batteries shall be used

  • Have reserved weight, space and power for the items outlined in the Ignition Kit and in the guidelines (Outlined in 3D and 2D models in the ignition kit)


# Component Weight
1 Flight Control Computer .58 10 170 180 80
2 Intertial Measurement Unit .0575 5 100 30 40 Locate near the center of gravity
3 ADS-B Transponder .155 11 89 46 18 XP Family of Transponders,http://SagetechCorp.com
4 Antennas, etc... .322 7 - - - Sum of externally mounted antennas and air data probes
5 Flight Termination Parachute 1.02 10 280 120 50 XL96 Skycat
6 Flight Termination Launcher .18055 10 200 55 55 X55-CF Skycat
7 Camera System .483 21 97 95 97 Must be located in the front section of the aircraft for unobstructed forward view
8 Communication System .575 17 57 98 86 Command and control comms and video transmitter

*Boxes 5 and 6 are not required but are recommended as a solution to prevent catastrophic failure

  • Capable of sustained flight in all flight states while experiences 10 m/s head and cross wind

Read more about the challenge on our blog


  • "Keep it super simple"

  • Keep in mind: An optimized design contains the following

    • Ease of maintenance

    • 20 minute turnaround between max-distance missions

    • Swappable batteries

    • Consider the following weather conditions:

      • -30 to 50°C

      • moderate rain

    • Safe operation in all flight states

  • Human Factors and Safety Provisions

    • Transportable by two average size people

    • Limit time on ground with rotors spinning

    • Modular design for ease of transport

  • The aircraft shall be able to be disassembled and transportable. Consider different scenarios of shipping to perhaps even remote places (van, vessel, aircraft, truck, ISO container etc.).

  • Design guideline for your design:
    • May consider a disc loading between 10 kg/m^2 and 50 kg/m^2.

    • May consider a wing loading between 10 kg/m^2 and 30 kg/m^2.

*(these is are just recommendations)

  • Mitigate consequences of failure

    • Any failure of the aircraft in flight (loss of power or control) should be planned for (example: parachute recovery system) so that the vehicle would not pose a serious threat to people or property on the ground.

  • May consider a landing gear for conventional fixed-wing take-off and landing

*If space and weight allow

Additional Deliverables

The following deliverables can be done as 2D or 3D drawings or models, but all entries must include the following boards:

  • Brief design description

    • Included on top of submission page

    • Requirements

      • General inspiration for design

      • Explanation of design details

        • Landing gear

        • “Waterproofness”

        • Modularity/Ship-ability

        • Ease of handling

        • Weight

        • Fail Safe components to prevent catastrophic failure

        • Safety provisions:  Limit time on ground with rotors spinning

  • 3-view drawings (top, side, front) with major dimensions

  • Show structural concept (spars, carbon rods, etc)

    • Show main structural components (wings, fuselage, inner structure)

    • Show equipment location (batteries, motors, actuators etc.)

    • Show location of supplied space reservations from the ignition kit

    • Show landing gear concept

  • Payload and Cargo concept (to be included as sketch and short design description)

    • Interior dimensions along with provisions for securing cargo

    • Configurability concept to change from cargo to sensor payload

  • Frame Sheet with populated geometric and aerodynamic data 
    • *Populated white cells
  • Optional Deliverables

    • Isometric view

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  • Developer

    To me the contest reads more like the technical requirements for a specific product they need for a job. Entire thing is so strictly formulated, that there is no room for innovation. Strange way to go about it.

  • @Mark I think the latter is true ;) one benefit of those limitations is that you will definitely see a flying prototype after the challenge. No crazy new technology to be developed. 

  • @NiMA I agree the level of restrictions tells me that whoever put this together has no idea what they are doing or has a very specific idea as they greatly narrow the field 

  • @dwgsparky I think you are being a bit too harsh here. First thing you see if you go to the challenge is the high level of collaboration and community spirit among participants. Most of those people would probably enjoy this process even without a 50K prize and be happy to get some media attention on the side if they win. 

    As sb else here mentioned, with the level of restriction that Airbus has put on designs, you will not see any world changing "patentable" concepts anyway plus whatever goes online is already in public domain, so ... 

    This is a great first move from a giant like Airbus, they need to do much more like this if they don't want to be disrupted by an aerospace version of Elon's "Tesla".

  • Well I understand that many small companies are interested in this challenge :

    1. It's not required to present anything else than plans and descriptions, so it's not a matter of 6 month of work but probably a few weeks. "Local Motors and Airbus will build a prototype of the winning entry"

    2. Airbus is one of the largest companies in that field, they will probably pick up some companies or individuals in the contestants for other projects. And winning the contest would be highly visible in the medias and will likely attract many opportunities. In addition I'd be surprized that Airbus doesn't propose a long term collaboration to that company.

    3. About the IP : whatever the designs they will probably not introduce something completely revolutionnary that could have been patented.

    With the current state of the technology, the challenge looks possible, the complexity is no longer to have a flight controller, but rather to find the best size, motors, battery weigth, frame resistance and so on. Which is certainly not easy, but is not similar to an idea that can be patented and then generate huge revenues.

    In the same way, if Airbus uses your exact setup and prevents you to use it, it's not a big issue to continue to build other drones with other specifications, so no real loss here.

    On the other hand, if while thinking about it you find a completely new idea that could be patented or generate some money, you're not forced to write it down for the contest.

    To me it looks a little like the "Shell Marathon", you know that contest where teams must build a machine that makes the most distance with 1 liter of fuel. The complexity is not in the technology, all teams are using almost the same principles, but how they optimize the weigth, motor size, aerodynamics and so many parameters is the important part, and that can't be patented or easily generate money.

  • I guess Senate Bill S.2658 would basically put an end to this project, no? 

  • Moderator

    I think anyone who enters this competition with this ludicrous theft of all IP and content should be removed from society and locked away where they can do no harm to others. This should of course include all the "responsible" persons promoting this activity. 

    No disrespect intended but lets be reasonable

  • As an Airbus employee, take it from me they have a great many projects like this on the go. The company is so silo'd though that most of the departments are not aware, except through the web, of what others are doing.

    Google them, there were more than 2 dozen the last time we looked, yet there is virtually nothing on the internal intranet.

  • It is a great competition for high school science classes.  But I'm not sure that's what they're looking for...

  • Harsh. I guess you could offer up something that you are sure you will never pursue on your own, yet fits their requirements?
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