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AUVSI SUAS Competition Day 1 Another Long Day

This is the second of our blog posts on the 2015 AUVSI Student UAS competition. “Hey, remember that long jet lag, the little to no sleep on the plane, and the going to bed at 1 am, well remember to get up early tomorrow,” is what was going thought our brains this morning as the team decided to wake up at 6 am. Breakfast was provided by the hotel so we all had decided we would eat at the hotel before we left. As it turns out, a few of us managed to eat breakfast, but the majority showed up only when the food had disappeared. So some decided to eat some of the sandwiches from the night before.

With breakfast taken care of in a sense, we packed up and started to make our way to the air field. It was only a 20 minute drive to get there, so not too bad for travel time. On arrival to the gate, we meet up with our liaison, Brendon, who would escort us on and off the base every day that we were there. We also got our ID badges which we had to return at the end of the day and pick them up again the next day.

It was a small drive down to a tarmac close to the runway where they had set up a long row of large tents with tables for each of the teams. There were 38 teams attending the competition this year, so lots of cars and lots of people. Our table was close to the parking lot so unloading was quite easy.

We got to our table and started to get ready for our safety inspection and flight readiness review briefing. Brandon made sure that we were settled and hung around to learn more about our UAV. The safety inspections were first come first serve, so we didn�t have to worry about time. Our flight redness review, which is a presentation of what our UAV has for system and how it will work, was scheduled for 2pm. It was 8am when we got to the filed so plenty of time. We did some troubleshooting, testing, and planning. During the time we are on base, we weren’t allowed to turn on any transmitters or WiFi routers.

Eventually lunch came around and we were all getting hungry. Lunch was provided by the competition and included a sandwich with potato chips. We ate our lunches meanwhile we continued to work on our UAV to make ready for inspection.

We eventually went to do our safety inspection after we made sure that all the codes were properly installed and everything was working properly.

The inspection itself went relatively well, there were just a few hiccups, but nothing too major. One particular test was troublesome and we could not get to work. It was connecting to a server provided by the competition hosts, downloading, and uploading data during the flight. Of course we were just testing to make sure it worked but the issue was pretty simple, we could not connect to the server. It was only a secondary objective, so we did not have to complete this objective.

The competition is split into 2 categories of objectives, primary and secondary. Primary objectives we must complete and included autonomous flight, search the area, and find targets on the ground. Secondary objectives were optional to complete and would add to your score. They included identify targets with the UAV still airborne by sending down images, capture an image of a target outside the flight boundary without flying outside the boundary, locate a target close to a set of coordinates given at take-off, sending flight information to a server on the ground provided by the competition hosts, and many more.

Next up was the flight readiness review. The presentation itself was alright, nothing stellar by any accounts. There were quite a few improvements we could have made to the presentation and perhaps some more rehearsals would have made the presentation better.

There was still the issue with connecting with the server and when other teams left for their hotels, we stayed behind to troubleshoot our problems. We waited for the no transmitting restriction to be lifted before we could start troubleshooting. For around an extra hour or so we remained behind until the server was shut down for the day. We packed and left the field for the day.

It was around dinner time, so we drove down the road back to the hotel and looked for some place to eat. There was much debate on what kind of restaurant we should eat at, maybe even go back to the hotel and eat the rest of our sandwiches. Our first stop was Golden Corral but the buffet was too much food, so next a restaurant next door. Turns out it was a bar and not a restaurant. Then more debate. Eventually we stopped at Chipotle to get some burritos and bowls.

We made our way back to the hotel room and ate our food. We then started to with some more testing and troubleshooting for connecting to the competition server. We also completed the flight plan for the flight and some more programming for imaging. It was another late night.

Written by
UAARG Safety Officer. I'm a Planning student in the Faculty of Arts focussing mainly on Transportational Planning in cities.