Registration Now Open For NASA's 2014 Unmanned Aircraft Challenge
September 25, 2013

Registration Now Open For NASA’s 2014 Unmanned Aircraft Challenge

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Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

NASA has opened up registration for the 2014 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Airspace Operations Challenge.

Teams competing in the UAS challenge will be traveling to Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center for the competition. In the end, the first place team will earn themselves a $500,000 prize.

"One way NASA can help with tough technology challenges is through prize competitions," Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington said in a statement. "This challenge can help to stimulate private sector investment that is many times greater than the cash value of the prize and increase the number and diversity of individuals, organizations and teams that are addressing advancement of autonomous unmanned aircraft systems technology."

NASA said it is providing the prize money to the winning team as part of the agency's Centennial Challenges competitions, which aims to bring solutions to problems of interest to the agency and the nation. The space agency said that prizes will only be awarded after solutions are successfully demonstrated.

"NASA Aeronautics has recently rolled out an exciting new strategic vision to strengthen the benefits of our research for society and our nation's economy," said Thomas Irvine, NASA's deputy associate administrator for aeronautics research in Washington. "One of the new elements of our vision will be to leverage technologies from other areas or disciplines, such as autonomy, and to bring solutions to the civil aviation arena. Through the UAS Airspace Operations Challenge, we seek to find out whether autonomy, and possibly other technologies, can aid in removing the barriers that exist to unmanned aircraft systems having full and ready access to the National Airspace System."

Teams are being asked to develop technologies that may reduce the technical challenges of safely operating autonomous unmanned aircraft systems in commercial airspace.

The Phase 1 competition will be taking place from April 28 through May 2, 2014. A Phase 2 competition will be following a year after the successful completion of Phase 1, and this phase is expected to have up to an additional $1 million in prize money for the winning participants.

Development Projects Inc. (DPI) is partnering up with NASA for the competition. DPI will be managing the competition and will cover the cost of operations through commercial or private sponsorships.

"DPI is very pleased to partner with NASA to help demonstrate these critical technologies," Jeff Hoagland, president of DPI said in a statement. "The Ohio-Indiana UAS Center and Test Complex will provide the ideal airspace and venue to support the flight competition."