News Release: 2019 Student UAS Competition Results

 Alma, QC – May 6th, 2019 – The lights are back on in the Saguenay Valley thanks to the skills of École de technologie supérieure – Team Donolab. They answered the call from the local power company needing drone support to inspect a simulated damaged solar farm. ETS was declared the winner of the 11th Unmanned Systems Canada’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Student Competition hosted by Centre d’Excellence sur les Drone – CED Alma, Québec over the weekend.  

The purpose of this annual competition is to promote and develop Canadian expertise, innovation and experience in unmanned systems technologies at the university and college levels. This year, 14 university teams from across Canada took on the challenge. The simulated mission for the competition was to provide support to a utility company after a wind storm, including surveying a field of solar panels (solar farm) locating any major damage to individual solar panels, identifying significant changes to the solar field, and placing inspection markers adjacent to critical cells on damaged panels. Power companies routinely use drones to complete mandatory inspections.    

For the second year, the task required the drone to fly simulated Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) in preparation for future regulations. Spotters had the drone visible until it returned to the teams’ field of view.  

This phase was preceded by a design paper for which the winners were announced earlier this year. 

Phase 1: Design Phase Results:

1st place: Université de Sherbrooke – VAMUdeS

   2nd place: École de technologie supérieure – Dronolab

     3rd place: McGill University – Aero McGill Drones

Phase 2: Flying Phase Results:

1st place: École de Technologie Supérieure – Team Dronolab

  2nd place: McGill University – Aero McGill drones

    3rd place: Carleton University – Blackbird

Prizes recognizing innovation, perseverance and a healthy competitive spirit were also awarded. Unmanned Systems Canada is grateful for the participation of industry sponsors acting as judges to select the winners. 

Innovation prize:   Carleton University – Team Blackbird  

The team designed, built and successfully deployed a fixed-wing drone to act as the signal relay to the small but sturdy multi-copter doing the solar panel inspection. In doing so, they extended the effective range of the drone while improving safety.

Pip Rudkin Memorial Award for Perseverance:  University of Manitoba – UMUAS.  

This first year team, who drove from Winnipeg, experienced a disastrous crash that left their drone with broken hardware and severely damaged electronic components. With a trip to Quebec City on Saturday for spare parts they rebuilt it, but were unable to get it airborne. They never gave up.

Judges Award for Professionalism: McGill University – Aero McGill Drones

The team conducted themselves with professional standards demonstrating excellent communication skills, a plan for every step and careful consideration of scoring requirements.  The improvement McGill has shown over several consecutive years was also noted.

Cash prizes of $20,000 were awarded for Phase 1 & 2 at the Awards Banquet held Sunday evening.

According to Mark Aruja, the Chairman of Unmanned Systems Canada: “This competition is a world-class event and amongst the most complex engineering competitions where the teams are required to respond to a customer’s requirements as they will in their industrial careers. We continue to see the best and brightest of our university students drawn to the innovations possible with unmanned aerial systems and testing their skills in demanding scenarios. Once again, I was impressed with how teams responded with novel solutions to the scenario that we presented to them and the pressures of competition.”

Darcy Peters, a Technology Analyst with Manitoba Hydro, got his first taste of the competition last year in Southport MB.  He was a key player in developing the scenario and joined the team at CED for the final touches on the simulated solar panels.  Having worked in  real life situations he noted:

I was ecstatic to see the ingenuity and tenacity demonstrated by the students this weekend, as they stepped up to tackle the real world scenario that we presented to them. They have demonstrated that their generation is fully prepared to take on the current and evolving technological challenges the future holds.” 

This event is organized by a committee of volunteers including global leaders in the development and application of UAS systems, including former competitors now in industry. The competition could not take place without the generous support of our sponsors. For sponsorship opportunities contact [email protected]

2018 Phase 2 Competition Teams

Carleton University – Blackbird

Concordia University – UAV

École de technologie supérieure – Dronolab

Polytechnique Montreal – Élikos

McGill University- Aero McGill Drones

Queens University – Queens Aero Design Team

Ryerson University – RUAV

University of British Columbia – UAS

University of British Columbia Okanagan – UBCO AERO

University of Manitoba – UMUAS

Université de Sherbrooke – VAMUdeS

University of Toronto – AeRo

University of Toronto – UAV

University of Victoria – UVic Aero

For further information, or a .pdf of this release, contact Susan Chapman, USC Communications: 

Mobile: 613-614-3724/[email protected]

We gratefully acknowledge all of our sponsors, listed below:

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