NDSU Students Are First North Dakota Team to Compete in International Aerial Robotics Competition

North Dakota will be competing, for the first time ever, in the world's oldest aerial robotics competition for colleges and universities. A team of North Dakota State University students will travel to Atlanta, Georgia to compete in the competition, which runs from July 25th to July 27th.

Fargo, ND, July 22, 2017 (Newswire.com) - North Dakota will be competing, for the first time ever, in the world's oldest aerial robotics competition for colleges and universities. A team of North Dakota State University students will travel to Atlanta, Georgia to compete in the competition, which runs from July 25th to July 27th. Thirty-two teams from numerous U.S. states and other countries have registered to compete at the Atlanta competition venue (a second competition is held in Beijing in August); however, not all of the teams have met the eligibility requirements and some eligible teams may choose not to compete.

The competition, which was first held in 1991 is now in its 27th year of operation. According to the competition website, the competition is dedicated to "advancing the state of the art in autonomous aerial robotic behavior." The competition's goal is to "tackle challenges that are currently impossible for any flying robots owned by government or industry." In some cases, challenges require multiple competition years to complete. The previous mission ran from 2010 to 2013, with the current mission starting in 2014.
"Challenges like the International Aerial Robotics Competition provide an opportunity for students to learn skills that they don't easily acquire in the classroom," noted Computer Science Asst. Prof. Jeremy Straub, who serves as the team's faculty advisor. "This type of a competition is a nearly perfect analog for the workforce, where people from multiple technical backgrounds must work together to solve a technical challenge, usually under time pressure."
As part of the competition, the team designed an aerial vehicle (commonly known as a UAV or drone), wrote a paper about the vehicle and made a team t-shirt. The UAV must operate entirely autonomously during the competition, after being started by a team member. Students studying computer science, electrical, mechanical and industrial engineering and other disciplines collaborated to produce a drone capable of this feat.
"The competition's task is one that is said to be impossible within the aerial robotics industry," commented student team leader Abdullah Almosalami. "This type of thing is exactly what progress looks like. It is creating a better world and I want to be part of that."
Whether the team wins or loses - or no winner is declared overall - it will have the distinction of being the first team from North Dakota to enter the contest. Ironically, the competition itself was actually held in Grand Forks, North Dakota from 2011 to 2013; however, no North Dakota teams were fielded during this time.
Several other regional colleges are involved in the challenge. The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology has participated in the competition since mission 4, which ran from 2001 to 2008. In this competition, they were awarded $8,200 for having the best paper, best t-shirt, and most innovative system. St. Olaf College and Carleton College in Minnesota have also teamed up to compete in mission 7.

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