New $500,000 UAS Competition Announced by NASA

NASA has announced a new UAS contest that I think might interest people here. It is called the UAS Airspace Operations Challenge and it's being developed as part of NASA's Centennial Challenge Program. Our goal is to hold the competition in the Fall of 2013 and the total amount of prize money available at that time will be $500,000. If the 2013 competition goes well, it will be followed by a tougher competition in 2014 with $1,000,000 in prize money. We're announcing it now, along with a preliminary draft of the rules, to get feedback and ideas from the UAS community and to see if any organizations are interested in partnering with us to run the competition. The rules are incomplete because there are many details that still need to be worked out and we want to be able to improve things based upon your feedback. 

This is your chance to give us your ideas on how we can structure this competition to foster significant progress toward solving the technical challenges to integrating unmanned aircraft into the U.S. National Airspace System. The web page lists the kind of information we are looking for and how to submit official feedback to NASA. There is a link to the draft rules on that page. 


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Comment by Boston UAV on October 17, 2012 at 10:11am

"The approach being considered would require competitors to maintain safe separation from other air traffic while operating their UAS in congested airspace, under a variety of scenarios. This will be accomplished through the use of sense and avoid technologies, as envisioned in the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). NASA is planning this Challenge in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), with NASA providing the prize purse."

Comment by Gary Mortimer on October 17, 2012 at 10:42am

A slightly bigger purse than the T3, I wonder if it will as big a fail as the UAVForge, lets hope they start with a decent website. Big Hairy Audacious Goals though and I like that will watch with great interest.

Comment by elad orbach on October 17, 2012 at 11:51am

hi as to my poor knowledge commercial airplanes casting their heading alt and such all the time and there is already a system for preventing collusion that called acas An airborne collision avoidance system (ACAS) is an aircraft system that operates independently of ground-based equipment and air traffic control in warning pilots of the presence of other aircraft that may present a threat of collision. If the risk of collision is imminent, the system indicates a maneuver that will reduce the risk of collision.

so as i see it it just a meter of integrating the system into the uavs

Comment by Gary Mortimer on October 17, 2012 at 1:13pm

That's what all the talk of ADS-B is sort of about.

Comment by Dwgsparky on October 17, 2012 at 1:28pm


It seems that only US residents or citizens can apply, Good luck from north of the border! We can still watch all the fun!


Comment by Andrew Tridgell on October 17, 2012 at 2:40pm

If that mockup of the CFGPS is accurate then they must be contemplating huge aircraft - much larger than is typically flown by hobbyists.

Other than that, this competition looks interesting. Implementing sense and avoid and support for ADS-B is the sort of thing we've been thinking about in CanberraUAV.

It certainly is annoying that they only allow US residents. If someone wants to enter an ArduPlane based system into the competition then I think it would be possible, although it will be a lot of work. There would need to be a lot of new features added, especially in the area of 4DT mission planning.

Cheers, Tridge

Comment by William Premerlani on October 17, 2012 at 2:56pm

Hi Tridge,

I am a US citizen. Why don't you come on over and live with me for a while (we have a guest apartment available), we can work on it together. ;-)

Best regards,


Comment by Gary Mortimer on October 17, 2012 at 11:09pm

Ah but be careful if you have any ideas in America they could be subject to ITAR so rather you move to Australia and do the work Bill and then take it back.

Looks like 4DT and ADS-B are going to be minimums over there.

Comment by Andrew Rabbitt on October 18, 2012 at 1:56am
Sounds like a great use for a bunch of networked X-plane simulators running APM in HIL-mode with the sense-and-avoid module barking waypoint orders to the APM.
Comment by Stephen Dade on October 18, 2012 at 4:13am

I wonder if they could have an "international" division of the competition that removes the ITAR parts of the main competition. I'd love to be involved in this competition too!


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