2016 AUVSI SUAS Competition Day 4 - Final

Hi everyone,

We performed our competition flight today. We had a catastrophic crash; read on for more details about that. Here are some nice photos from before the crash.

We crashed shortly after takeoff; after performing a manual takeoff, going into auto-stabilized flight mode, then going into fully autonomous flight, the aircraft began maneuvering out of control. Rijesh attempted to manually recover the aircraft, but it was too late by that point.

Here are some photos of the debris; unfortunately we don’t have any other recovered photos (including from the plane’s camera) that show what happened during the crash.

Our hypotheses on what caused the crash, after looking at the debris and the logs:

  • Poor wing alignment due to taking off and putting the wings back on at the flight line.
  • Overspeed on the approach into the standby circle, due to the use of a new propeller with a different pitch.
  • We noticed that the elevator had ripped off and had landed away from the other debris; we think that the elevator may have ripped off when the plane was approaching standby.

These are all just hypotheses; further testing is required to determine which one of these was the likeliest cause.

The final stats on overall team performance:

  • 43 teams initially registered in this competition.
  • 30 teams submitted journal papers.
  • 24 teams successfully submitted the required safety pilot flight logs, proof of telemetry upload to the interoperaility server, and the proof of flight video.
  • 24 teams passed the Flight Readiness Review and safety inspection and were able to fly.
  • We obtained an overall ranking of 16, out of the 30 teams that submitted journal papers.
  • We obtained a mission rank of 5, journal rank of 14, and a rank of 19 for our Flight Readiness Review. We tied for 5th on mission rank with a lot of other teams because we failed to meet the interoperability requirement for confirming that we successfully reached a flight waypoint. This is because we did not fly far enough to successfully reach a waypoint.

We’d like to thank the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Engineering, the Shell Enhanced Learning Fund, and the University of Alberta’s Students’ Union for helping to fund us over the past year and for this competition. We’d also like to thank Cameron Lee for his unwavering support, dedication, and advice over the past few years. Finally, we would like to thank our faculty advisors, Dr. Duncan Elliott and Dr. Michael Lipsett for their support of the club. We received some good advice from the judges on what to improve for next year’s competition and took note of the good practices from all the teams we met at competition, and are looking forward to doing better next year.


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The best rubber duck of all time.