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Team WRise crowned winners of the UAS Challenge 2021

Institution News Team

UAS Challenge Trophies
UAS Challenge Trophies

The winning team from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in India edge out fierce competition in this year’s hybrid UAS Challenge.

Several teams were the recipients of the Challenge’s awards during a virtual presentation that took place on 18 June, following a successful second year of virtual events designed to mitigate the ongoing restrictions from COVID.

This year’s UAS Challenge is sponsored by GKN Aerospace, Leonardo, QinetiQ, Babcock International, Raytheon, RS Grass Roots and Mashoom, with support from ARPAS-UK and AirDropBox.
Team WRise's winning UAS

Alongside strong results in the Design Reports, Team WRise also benefitted from the highest score during the X-Plane event, a new virtual event introduced this year for virtual testing and flight setup. This not only allows teams who are unable to compete in-person to participate in a virtual fly-off, but it also helps to develop their abilities with industry-level software.

Described as a ‘Dual system hybrid UAV’ chosen because of its ability to glide, hover as well as vertical take-off, together with a partially recessed payload location and interesting release system, Team WRise’s aircraft was flown in fixed wing configuration in the X-Plane simulation and performed well against all the test criteria, scoring the highest in this event. Overall, the judges noted this as a “very promising design for our humanitarian aid mission” and a worthy winner for this year’s UAS Challenge.

NUSTAirworks' UAS

They were closely followed by NUST Airworks from National University of Science & Technology, whose good approach to capturing the requirements of the competition was noted by the judges, leading to consistent scoring across all their reports and X-Plane event.

NUST Airworks also clinched the Safety Award, with the judges commenting that the National University of Sciences and Technology’s entry won the award with an excellent explanation of their general approach and a good hazard table with clear consequences of concern, preventative and corrective measures.

Mora Avions' UAS

In addition to their overall 3rd place win, University of Moratuwa’s Mora Avions also picked up the Environment award for the team’s UAS design. The judges particularly liked this team’s efforts to reduce pollution by using novel materials, including used PET bottles as drone components and for creating fibre sheets from banana leaves as a fuselage covering. Their UAS performed well in the X-Plane simulation with the second highest score, performing particularly well in the Climb & Glide test.


Having secured several awards with their debut entrance in 2020, the Islamic University of Technology’s Team ANTS continued their form into 2021, who were awarded the coveted Design award, supported by a well laid out and comprehensive Design Report, supported by two good Design Reviews and aerodynamic and stability calculations, for their hybrid design with three tilting rotors. Furthermore, the team added to their accolades this year by receivisng a commendation by the judges in the Safety Award category as well.


The judges were delighted to see the Team DART from Democritus University of Thrace pick up the Highest Placed New Entrant award this year. This team designed a quadcopter inspired by rescue challenges in the Greek mountains and was driven by an effort to keep costs down. Having successfully completed the X-Plane course, the judges hope that they continue to build on their good work in coming years in the UAS Challenge.

DroneTeam Twente
The Netherlands’ DroneTeam Twente from University of Twente secured the Most Promise award, with the judges noting that the Hybrid VTOL aircraft proved very difficult to implement in X-Plane but the design is such that if it had been able to get airborne it should have performed very well.

Team BlueSwan's UAS

Swansea University’s Blueswan were delighted to receive this year’s award for Innovation, with the judges taken by the team’s efforts to make their aircraft work with the PRANDTL-D wing from NASA, which takes advantage of proverse or cooperative yaw.

With the first half of this year’s hybrid UAS Challenge now complete, the focus now shifts to the live fly-off event, taking place on 14-15 July at BMFA Buckminster airfield in Nottinghamshire. In a positive step from the fully virtual event last year and representative of the UAS Challenge in normal conditions, the fly off event will see a small roster of teams demonstrating and benchmarking their UAS’ capabilities across a series of real-world scenarios, with further awards to be presented to teams.

”On behalf of the organising committee and judges, we would like to congratulate Team WRise and all participants of the UAS Challenge in what has been a difficult year,” said Jelena Gacesa, Project Manager for the UAS Challenge. “The teams adapted to the changed educational landscape, worked around restrictions & were able to showcase a new skill set when participating in the UAS Challenge virtual competition, illustrating once again how young engineers are able to develop a solution to any problem! We look forward to meeting teams for the live fly-off event next month.”

The full winners this year are as follows:

  • Most promise: University of Twente - DronteTeam Twente
  • Environment: University of Moratuwa - Mora Avions
  • Safety: National University of Sciences and Technology - NUST Airworks
  • Design: Islamic University of Technology – ANTS
  • Innovation: Swansea University - blueswan
  • Highest placed new entrant: Democritus University of Thrace - Democritus Aeronautical Rescue Team ( DART)
  • 3rd place: University of Moratuwa - Mora Avions
  • Runner up: National University of Sciences and Technology - NUST Airworks
  • First place: University of Petroleum and Energy studies – Wrise

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