The UAV Invasion

I’m picturing a sky filled with flying robots. Believe me, I’m not being paranoid here. I know I keep going on and on and on about them, but they seem to be everywhere lately. Everyone’s using them for something, and building better versions of them every day.

Remember that competition in Europe? Remember that European robotics contest back in May, that featured flying robots (a/k/a UAVs)? Turns out there was one that took place stateside back in July, in Fort Benning, GA: the International Aerial Robotics Competition.

The winners were a team of students from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. And this after losing their primary remote-controlled helicopter. Luckily they waited a few hours after the final competition to crash their back-up device.

sduav4Long days and sleepless nights paid off for a team of students at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology that finished first in the International Aerial Robotics Competition at Fort Benning, Ga., July 24-27.

The team rebounded from the loss of its primary remote-controlled helicopter only to crash its backup helicopter within hours of the final round of competition.

“Not many of us slept before it (the competition),” team manager D.J. Kjar of Custer said. He said some team members worked 43 consecutive hours, slept for five to six hours … and then went back at it.”

…After crashing the primary helicopter two weeks before the event, the team’s backup helicopter was wrecked during a practice flight when its engine failed the day before the flight competition.

Tech learned at a banquet the night before the flight contest that it was leading with firsts in best paper, best presentation and best team T-shirt design.

“That really renewed everybody’s strength,” Kjar said. The team worked all night to rebuild the helicopter.

Tech and the University of Alabama had the only vehicles that successfully completed the flight course.

The South Dakota team has website featuring photos and videos of their robots in flight.

One of the South Dakota students quoted in the article above mentioned that this technology might have potential for military use. Um, yeah. Turns out the Army already has one — called the Shadow 200 TUAV — zipping around the skies above Alaska.


There’s photos and videos of that one in action too.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a buzzing I keep hearing outside my window and I must investigate…