Winners of AHS International 3rd Annual MAV Student Challenge

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May 12, 2015
Contact: Mike Hirschberg
(703) 684-6777 x111

Georgia Tech Wins AHS International 3rd Annual MAV Student Challenge

First Autonomous Winner in the Annual Challenge

The Winning GTAR Team (AHS Photo by Sundiata Cowels) Fairfax, Virginia -- AHS International, The Vertical Flight Technical Society, is pleased to announce the results of the 3rd Annual Micro Air Vehicle Student Challenge held at the 71st Annual AHS International Forum and Technology Display at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia on Monday May 4, 2015.

The Georgia Tech Aerial Robotics Club was the winner of autonomous category and awarded $5,000 for "Fulfilling all requirements of the competition for the first time in the competition’s three year history."

This was an extremely challenging accomplishment, with the vertical takeoff and landing MAV required to fly from a take-off point and then locate a target completely autonomously, hover over the target, and then return to its origin without human guidance. The target, approximately 75 ft (23 m) away, was randomly moved just after liftoff by the MAV. The electric-powered MAVs were limited to 500 grams (1.1 lb), including batteries.

Due to the extremely challenging autonomy requirements, manual flights were also accepted. Manual competitors flew the aircraft while standing behind a curtain and facing away, so that the pilot could only use the MAV camera for flight and target acquisition.

The Georgia Tech Unmanned Flying Club was the winner of the manual control category and awarded $2,500 for “Fulfilling all requirements of the manual flight competition and having a very well integrated ground station and operator interface."

The University of Pennsylvania was provided an honorable mention award of $1,500 for “Flying a vehicle which was an order of magnitude lighter than the other competitors, and having a novel means of control." Penn was a first-time competitor in this year’s event, bringing an MAV that weighed only 38 grams (1.3 oz).

The University of Maryland Cyclocopter Team was also provided an award of $1,000 for “Achieving significant weight reduction over previous cyclocopter implementations." A cyclocopter uses cycloidal rotors, which consist of airfoils rotating around a horizontal axis like a paddlewheel.

Eight university teams entered the competition, also including teams from North Dakota State University, Arizona State University, Lehigh University and a second University of Maryland team flying a quadcopter (ASU and Lehigh had technical difficulties and did not compete in the fly-off).

AHS International again thanks its sponsors of this important student competition: Mosaic Aerospace, The Patuxent Partnership, Rockwell Collins and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.

The competition is conducted by AHS International’s Unmanned VTOL Aircraft & Rotorcraft Committee. The committee hopes that the annual MAV Student Challenges will lead to advances in this area and help to develop increased expertise by students and universities. More information is available at

AHS International – The Vertical Flight Technical Society – has over 6,500 members in more than 40 countries and is the world’s leading technical society dedicated to the advancement of vertical flight technology and its applications. More information about the AHS International 71st Annual Forum & Technology Display is available at

Photos are available on the AHS Facebook page.

3rd MAV Challenge Group Photos (Photo by Sundiata Cowels)   GTAR control station (Photo by Sundiata Cowels)