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Drone competition off to a flying start

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The teams gather at Snowdonia Aerospace Centre  UAS Challenge 2017
The teams gather at Snowdonia Aerospace Centre UAS Challenge 2017

The UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Challenge sees record 25 teams for 2018

A selection of leading young engineers from the UK and overseas will be challenged to design, build and operate an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) in a humanitarian aid mission as part of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ annual challenge.

The competition, which is now in its fourth year, has been growing steadily since its launch, when twelve teams took part. This year, twenty-five teams will compete, including 4 international teams and a team from the University of Bath, which was crowned winner of the UAS Challenge 2017.

The Challenge is a year-long project with phased stages of completion that require strict adherence to certain standards in order to qualify. The UAS must complete a series of tasks, such as way-point navigation (following a route towards a specific mark), location search and accurate delivery of an aid package.

A steering group, comprising of specialist professionals in aerospace engineering and flight safety at leading aerospace and defence organisations, supports the teams throughout the project. The expert advice helps develop the teams’ technical understanding and focus on safety.

The commercial viability of the projects are also tested with a Dragons’ Den style pitch to a panel of judges.

Qinetiq and GKN Aerospace will continue to support the UAS Challenge 2018.

Peter Finegold, Head of Education Policy at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:

“Taking part in the UAS challenge provides students with an excellent opportunity to bridge the gap between education and industry. Students are involved in an engineering project which brings theoretical knowledge to life and encourages authentic work experiences such as working in teams, to deadlines and solving real problems as they arise.”

A participant from the University of Southampton, said of the 2017 competition:

“It was a great opportunity for a real-life challenge, with design choices, risks and mission planning on display for this competitive event. I used the skills gained in this group project to design and build an industrial UAV for my MSc Individual Project.”

Malcolm Foster, Chief Engineer – Advanced Projects at GKNs, said:

“Last year was GKNs first year of sponsoring the UAS Challenge, and we were impressed by both the professionalism of the contest and the quality of the entrants’ submissions. We had a great time participating in the fly off activities and judging, and we had no hesitation about extending our sponsorship and look forward to another exciting year.”

Phil Briggs, Lead Project Engineer at QinetiQ, said:

“We are very pleased to be involved in this year’s competition and are looking forward to seeing the contributions from all the competitors. We have had the privilege of reviewing the design concepts from the teams and there seems to be an interesting shift to some new aircraft configurations. Be sure to watch this space!”

Confirmed teams taking part in the 2018 UAS Challenge are:

  1. Loughborough University
  2. University College London – Project Bentham Team
  3. University College London – Drone Aid
  4. University of Southampton – Team Athena
  5. University of Southampton – Team Horus
  6. Swansea University – Team Cigno
  7. Coventry University – Team Phoenix
  8. University of Portsmouth
  9. Sheffield Hallam University
  10. University of the West of England
  11. University of Surrey – Team Peryton
  12. University of Dundee – Team Haggis Aerospace
  13. University of Sheffield – Team Project HEX
  14. National University of Science and Technology, Karachi, Pakistan – Team NUST AirWorks
  15. DHA Suffa University, Pakistan – Team Zarrar
  16. Queen Mary University of London – Team Hawkes
  17. Kingston University London – Team Project Wunderfly
  18. University of Glasgow
  19. University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka – Team Mora Avions
  20. University College London – Nova Team
  21. Istanbul Technical University, Turkey – Team Hedef
  22. University of Cambridge
  23. University of Nottingham
  24. University of Huddersfield – Team Hawk
  25. University of Bath – Team Bath Drones.

Notes to Editors

  • Contact the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Press Office on 020 7973 1261 or email

  • The Institution of Mechanical Engineers was established in 1847 and has some of the world’s greatest engineers in its history books. It is one of the fastest growing professional engineering institutions. Headquartered in London, we have operations around the world and over 117,000 members in more than 140 countries working at the heart of the most important and dynamic industries such as the automotive, rail, aerospace, medical, power and construction industries.

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