Engineering students from Istanbul Technical University beat 20 other teams to be crowned the winners of the 'fly-off' final of the UAS Challenge 2018 drone design competition, which is organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
The runner up was Team Athena from the Southampton University and third place was awarded to Team Hawk from the Huddersfield University.
This year’s challenge was to design, build and operate a drone for a humanitarian aid mission. Alongside participants from the UK - including last year’s champions Bath University - the competition included entrants from Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The event was held at the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre in north Wales.
“When the Istanbul team arrived at the competition they moved like a well-oiled machine and delivered, despite the challenging weather conditions,” said Alistair Cowin, Chief Judge of the UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Challenge.
“They also won the Safety and Airworthiness Prize for which they displayed good organisation skills and a very positive air safety culture. A really professional outfit flying a really capable UAS.”
This year’s event featured a number of innovations. These included hybrid drones from Swansea University and Team Horus at Southampton University, which both combined a helicopter’s vertical lift before converting into plane-mode for more efficient flight.
Team Nova from University College London designed a micro-jet engine for their drone, the first time a jet engine had been seen in the competition.
”The enthusiasm, innovation, teamwork and focus on safe operation by all participants was truly outstanding” said John Whalley, CEO of the Aerospace Wales Forum, who presented the awards.
Now in its fourth year, the competition has been growing steadily, with 21 teams taking part in 2018, over double the number in the inaugural event
“QinetiQ is very proud to sponsor this important event as it develops the business and technical skills in the participants that we would like to see in new entrants to our company. The airfield facilities we have provided for the competition with Snowdonia Aerospace Centre are purpose-built for this type of flying activity and we are keen to see as many people as possible benefit from its use,” said Phil Briggs, UAS Lead Engineer at sponsor QinetiQ.
For the first time, the UAS Challenge launched an art and short story competition for local school children aged 9-14, winners of both were invited to the fly-off.
These school competitions were a special feature introduced as part of the Institution’s aim to support STEM education and engagement and in recognition of 2018 being the 'Year of Engineering', a government-sponsored campaign to encourage more young people to choose engineering as a career.
Close to 60 school children from two local schools were present at the School’s STEM Day at the event. They had the opportunity to view flights, meet the competing teams, see the first-hand a variety of drones and to engage in activities that were specially designed for them by STEM Ambassadors.
Platinum Sponsor QinetiQ presented the Grand Champion Award to Istanbul Technical University. Gold Sponsor GKN Aerospace presented the Design Award to Team Horus from Southampton University. Team Bath Drones received the Innovation Award from Partner Bombardier.
Partner Frazer-Nash Consultancy awarded the Safety and Airworthiness Prize to Istanbul Technical University.