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sUAS Innovation Challenge

Overview

Imagine yourself as part of a disaster relief team searching a city struck by a devastating earthquake. Buildings and bridges are damaged, roads and walkways blocked by rubble, electrical lines intermingled with debris, and a number of people hurt and missing. The urban environment poses serious challenges to your mission. Movement is slow due to debris. Structure remains along with rubble severely limit the area your team can search. Cities extend upwards and underground, therefore searches need to include the upper floors of potentially damaged buildings and below street level where people may be trapped in subways, collapsed basements or any of the tunnels that crisscross the city.

The Opportunity

Now imagine this same environment but the difference is you and your team are augmenting the search for survivors using a sUAS of your design—a system specifically developed by your team to support a search for survivors by providing real time video in these devastated regions. The system should consist of a small lightweight air vehicle so that it is not a burden on teams already overloaded with gear, while at the same time be rugged enough to operate in harsh conditions. First responders won’t have spare time for extended training so the system should be simple to learn, operate, and maintain. The video camera system should be capable of identifying people and operating in low light conditions. The air vehicle should be capable of flight for a minimum of 15 minutes at one time, with follow-on flights experiencing minimal delays. The innovative design your team develops is the key to your success.

The Contest

The deadline for submissions is September 22, 2017. We’ll announce semi-finalists on the Innovation Challenge portal September 29, 2017. Semi-finalists will then present their proposal to the review committee on October 11-12, 2017 and finalists announced on October 13, 2017. Finalists will receive funding to design and build their proposed solution. A fly-off competition will be conducted at the conclusion of the Innovation Challenge. The winner will be announced at the conclusion of the fly-off.

Proposal Submission Deadline
September 22, 2017

Download Proposal Template

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sUAS Innovation Challenge Briefing
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Contest details

sUAS Innovation Challenge Scenario

Imagine yourself as part of a disaster relief team searching a city struck by a devastating series of earthquakes. Buildings and bridges are damaged and collapsed, roads and walkways blocked with rubble, electrical and utility lines intermingled with debris, and throughout the desolated city people are hurt and missing.  You and your team are operating in these austere conditions. Laden with safety gear, first aid equipment, food and water you and your team begin fighting against time as you slowly pick your way through the rubble to find and help people trapped in the city ruins.

The urban environment poses serious challenges to your team’s mission.  Movement is slow due to the debris. The remains of structures and rubble severely limit the area your teams can search at any given time. Cities extend both upward and underground. Searches need to extend into the upper floors of potentially damaged buildings and below street level where people may be trapped in dark and partially collapsed basements, subways, and the tunnels that crisscross cities. Night makes it all but impossible to safely continue searching.

Now imagine this same environment but the difference is you and your team are augmenting the search for survivors using a sUAS of your design - a system specifically developed by your team to support a search for survivors by providing real time video in these devastated regions. The system should consist of a small lightweight air vehicle so that it is not a burden on teams already overloaded with gear, while at the same time be rugged enough to operate in harsh conditions.  First responders won’t have spare time for extended training so the system should be simple to learn, operate, and maintain. The video camera system should be capable of identifying people and operating in low light conditions. The air vehicle should be capable of flight for a minimum of 15 minutes at one time, with follow-on flights experiencing minimal delays.

The innovative design your team develops is the key to your success.

sUAS Innovation Challenge Objectives

The challenge has a number of objectives, in particular to:

  • Provide an opportunity for students to learn practical skills for industry;
  • Provide an opportunity for students to develop and demonstrate teamwork, leadership and commercial skills as well as technical competence;
  • Foster collaboration across Arizona State University in the UAS technology areas and to provide a forum for interdisciplinary research; and
  • Rapidly innovate and develop solutions that can be used by ASURE as products for the commercial and government market.

Competition Overview

Proposal Submissions

Only one submission shall be submitted per team. Submissions must be made using the Proposal Submission template.

By submitting participants accept all provisions of the Official Rules and agree to abide by all decisions made by the ASURE.

Please submit your proposal to ASUREBD@asu.edu.

ASURE reserves the right to change, postpone or cancel any aspect of the competition for any reason.

Submissions must be received no later than September 22, 2017 at 11:59PM (Arizona Time).  Submission received after this time are not eligible to take part in the Innovation Challenge.

Eligibility and Team Structure

The competition is open to ASU undergraduate or graduate student 18 years of age and older. There is no size constraint to the number of students allowed on one team.

An ASU faculty member is required for each team as an advisor.

A team manager is required for each team. The team manager is team’s official liaison with ASURE. For the purposes of Innovation Challenge the team manager is responsible for scheduling the team’s activities and acting as a central point of contact for the team.

A team safety lead is required for each team. The team safety lead should ensure the team operates in a safe manner by reinforcing safe practices, leading the appropriate safety briefing and following the safety procedures.

The Innovation Challenge, while having a set of defined performance objectives to achieve, is as much about teamwork as it is innovation.

Funding

There is no entry fee required for participation in the Innovation Challenge.

Teams ultimately selected to move forward with design development will receive funding to support the development and testing. The funding amount will be determined by the evaluation committee based on the number of teams ultimately selected.

Each team will be required to keep a workbook documenting the use of the funds. The workbook must list the item, quantity, unit cost, and a link to the product and services purchased. Teams are also required to maintain all invoices and or receipts for any funds used for the Innovation Challenge and present these at the conclusion of the Innovation Challenge or when requested. An example workbook is posted on the Innovation Challenge website.

Points of Contact

ASURE

Chris Fortunato
480-941-3608
Christian.Fortunato.ASURE@asu.edu

Lloyd Brown
480-941-3610
Lloyd.Brown@asu.edu

Drone Safety Officer

Jonathan Klane
480-965-8498
Jonathan.Klane@asu.edu

Intellectual Property (AzTE)

Todd Glenn
Todd.Glenn@azte.com

Kyle Siegal
Kyle.Siegal@azte.com

Shen Yan
Shen.Yan@azte.com

Intellectual Property

IP generated as a result of participating in the Innovation Challenge will be owned by the Arizona Board of Regents.

IP arising out of the Innovation Challenge will be managed by AzTE; they can be contacted at any time to answer your questions.

Revenue generated by IP developed during the effort will be shared with ASU, ASURE and the developing team.

Teams should not publish on topics related to their designs or post images of their system to social media or other public venues until the teams have disclosed and discussed this information with AzTE, failure to do so may result in loss of certain IP rights.

Innovation Challenge Schedule

Date

Event Description

17 August 2017

Formal announcement of challenge and open for submissions.

22 September 2017

Innovation Challenge is closed for submissions.

29 September 2017

Semi-finalists announced. Semi-finalists begin developing and preparing for proposal presentations.

30 September 2017

Teams schedule Proposal Presentations (first come first serve)

11 October 2017

Teams conduct Proposal Presentations to the Innovation Challenge Committee

13 October 2017

Finalists are announced

14 October 2017

Innovation Challenge Kick-Off Meeting for all teams

13 November 2017

Teams schedule Initial Progress Check (first come first serve)

29 November 2017

Teams conduct Initial Progress Check

29 January 2018

Teams schedule Second Progress Check (first come first serve)

15 February 2018

Teams conduct Second Progress Check

29 March 2018

Teams schedule Final Progress Check (first come first serve)

18 April 2018

Teams conduct Final Progress Check

1 May 2018

Teams schedule capability demonstration and Fly-Off time (first come first serve)

9-10 May 2018

Capability demonstration and Fly-Off

11 May 2018

Awards Ceremony

Design and Operational Requirements

Requirements Overview

The Innovation Challenge has been designed to expose students to a number of disciplines they will need in their careers. Factors the evaluation team will be looking for include:

  • A methodical systems engineering approach to identify the requirements, selection of concept with a design to meet those requirements, and the test to confirm that the actual system meets the requirements in practice;
  • An elegant and efficient design solution, supported by an appropriate depth of analysis;
  • Innovation in the approach to solving the engineering challenges;
  • An appreciation of the practical design issues and sound design principles essential for a successful, robust and a reliability; e.g. adequate strength and stiffness of key structural components, consideration given to maintenance, ease of repair in the field, modular design for integration of future capacities, intuitive design, interface, and controls;
  • Good planning and team-work; organizing the team to divide up roles and responsibilities. Good communication and planning will be essential to achieve a successful, competitive entry that is on time and properly tested prior to the fly-off event; and
  • Attention to environmental impact, including minimizing noise, developing an efficient aircraft design which minimizes energy consumption, and attention to minimizing use of hazardous materials.

Development and Test Facilities

A team’s faculty advisor is responsible for providing adequate and appropriate space for system design, fabrication, development and bench testing (bench testing only, no flight testing).

Teams may utilize on campus facilities, such as Instrument Design and Fabrication Core Facility, Manufacturing Research and Innovation Hub at Polytech Campus, and the ASU Chandler Innovation Center or the “TechShop”. These facilities offer a variety of services for a fee that would paid from the team’s budget.

System Design Requirements

The Innovation Challenge is to design, build, and demonstrate a sUAS capable of supporting a mission which is modeled on real life humanitarian aid scenarios. System Design Requirements defines the “shall have” capabilities that represent the minimum system capabilities. The Innovation Challenge seeks to test a number of requirements.

  • Safety: Demonstrating safe design and flight operations, and integration of a Flight Termination System (FTS).
  • Reduced Size Weight and Power (SWaP). Reduced SWaP of the air vehicle and if specifically designed, the controller.  Air Vehicle weight shall not exceed 500g (measured in flight configuration), however lighter is better.  Total system weight (to include all components and any spares) shall not exceed 2.25 kilograms.
  • Endurance: The air vehicle shall be capable of flights 15 minutes or longer in duration and fly at least 50% of every hour.
  • Controller: The system shall have a dedicated controller (included in the system weight) or an android application. The controller (as a dedicated device or android application) shall include the flight controls  for the air vehicle; receive, store, and display the video feed and flight information (current sUAS location, heading, speed) in real time or playback mode; and provide the datalink between the air vehicle and the controller in Wireless Standard 802.11(g).
  • Real Time Video: The air vehicle shall provide full motion video to the controller in real time.  Video provides capability for the operator to visually detect people against a variety of backgrounds in daytime and low light conditions;
  • Navigation: The air vehicle shall be directed manually by the operator interacting with the controller or automatically by entering a flight path (as a series of waypoints) into the controller;
  • Environmental impact. To reduce the impact to rescue operations the air vehicle shall have a minimal audio (quieter is better) and visual signature; and
  • Cost: The total system unit cost shall not exceed $3,000.

The System Design Requirements are the minimum capabilities the system shall have. The implementation of the requirements are up to the teams participating in the Innovation Challenge.

Enhanced System Capabilities

The inclusion of Enhanced System Capabilities above and beyond System Design Requirement are at the discretion of the team. However, these types of capabilities can create a more technological advanced and innovative solution. Teams must balance cost, capability, and schedule to ensure the enhanced capability can be integrated within the Innovation Challenge constraints. Examples of Enhanced System Capacities are listed below

  • Capabilities that enable a system to operate in confined spaces such as inside damaged buildings, subways, or tunnels.
  • Capabilities that identify hazards to first responders, identify people in need. 
  • Capabilities to recognize and alert an operator or avoid obstacles which may impact the operation of the air vehicle.
  • Capabilities that assist the operator with recognition of people or points of interest.
  • Capabilities that provide an indication of system health, sensor performance, pending failures, and required maintenance.
  • Capabilities that simplify the operation of system.
  • Capabilities that support untethered operation.
  • Capabilities that indicate how the system operates when the command link is lost.

Enhanced System Capabilities should include features above the System Design Requirements that increase the ability of the system to support the Innovation Challenge.

Design Safety Requirements

The system SHALL NOT include these specific types, or those similar to designs or design elements.

  • The system shall not have metal-blade propellers or gaseous boosts.
  • The system shall not carry hazardous chemicals or pyrotechnic devices, or hazardous materials intended to separate from the air vehicle during flight.

Development Methods

Teams are expected to conduct methodical systems engineering approach to identify the requirements, selection of concept with a design to meet those requirements, and test to confirm that the actual system meets the requirements in practice.
Teams shall have design artifacts that define the hardware, software, electrical, and signal, designed to sufficient detail to support production of the system.

Key Performance Measures (KPM) should be identified by teams based upon their specific design. These include key requirements such as (but not limited to) weight, cost, and flight time. KPMs should estimate requirements to evaluate margins and compliance with requirements.  Key Performance Measures shall be tracked over time until actual measurements are taken.

Safety

The Innovation Challenge Drone Safety Officer (DSO) is Jonathan Klane (Jonathan.Klane@asu.edu, (480) 965-8498).  Any questions regarding safety and safe operation of the system should be directed to the DSO.

All flights will be conducted in the indoor facility designed by the Innovation Challenge. At no time will any system be flown in any other facility, space, or area including outside.

NOTE: FLYING THE AIR VEHICLE ANYWHERE OTHER THAN THE DESIGNATED INDOOR FLYING FACILITY SHALL RESULT IN IMMEDIATE DISQUALIFICATION FROM THE INNOVATION CHALLENGE

Flight Termination System

A Flight Termination System (FTS) shall be incorporated as part of the design and is a mandatory requirement to participate in the fly-off event. The purpose of the FTS is to automatically initiate all relevant actions that halt all sUAS activity and force the system into low energy landing state. The FTS should be automatically implemented in the event the data links between the controller and sUAS are unintentionally lost or subject to interference / degradation. The FTS shall also be capable of manual selection should the Flight Safety Officer deem the sUAS’s behavior a threat to the maintenance of Air Safety (including persons, the building, materials, or other sUASs, etc.).

The actions of the FTS must aim to safely land the sUAS as soon as possible after initiation. The FTS shall be automatically initiated after 5 seconds of unintentional lost Uplink. The Uplink is defined as the data link which provides control inputs to the sUAS from the controller, including manual initiation of the FTS. The FTS should be automatically initiated promptly and no longer than 10 seconds after unintentional lost Downlink. The Downlink is defined as the data link which relays the sUAS’s telemetry / positional information and video feed to the controller.

A ‘Return to Home’ function is not acceptable as an FTS.

Other Design Safety Requirements

  • The design and construction of the sUAS shall employ good design practice, with appropriate use of materials and components.
  • The design shall be supported by appropriate analysis or demonstration to indicate satisfactory structural integrity, stability and control, flight and navigation performance, and reliability of safety critical systems.
  • Any fuel / battery combination deemed a high or significant risk by the Review Committee, DSO, or ASURE may be disqualified.

Review Committees

Review Committees are used to provide a multi-disciplined perspective of the Innovation Challenge proposals. Review Committee members are drawn from academia, agencies developing and soliciting UAS and UAV related technology, defense and aerospace industry, UAS enthusiasts, and technology developers.

Committee members apply a rubric and their specific perspective to evaluate designs during the initial submission phase. During design reviews the Review Committee evaluates the design of the system at a particular phase of development and provides teams with insight and guidance to address potential problems and enhance the capability being developed.

Members of the Review Committee who are not ASU or ASURE employees will sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement and Intellectual Property Rights waiver prior to attending the event.

Challenge Activities

Initial Submission

The initial submission for the Innovation Challenge is a proposal that identifies the team taking part in the Innovation Challenge, including the Faculty Advisor and a description of the system being proposed.

Teams will complete the Initial Submission template and submit the package no later than September 22, 2017 at 11:59PM (Arizona Time). Submission received after this time are not eligible to take part in the Innovation Challenge. Eligible submissions are evaluated by the Review Committee based upon on innovation, technical merit, and ability to produce the solution. Based upon the proposal evaluation an initial down select will occur. Semi-finalists will be announced on September 29, 2017.

Proposal Presentations

Semi-Finalists will be invited to present their solution to the Innovation Challenge Review Committee. The proposal presentation is an opportunity for teams to describe the capability, how the requirements will be implemented, and answer questions from the Review Committee.

Team will complete the Proposal Presentation template and submit the package no later than October 10, 2017 at 11:59PM. Submissions received after this time are disqualified from the Innovation Challenge.

Proposal presentation will occur on the 11th or 12th of October 2017. Teams will schedule their presentations on a first come first served basis. Scheduling for Proposal Presentation opens on September 30, 2017.

The Review Committee will evaluate the proposals based upon innovation, technical merit, and ability to produce the solution. Based upon an evaluation of the presentations a final down select will occur and the finalists announced on 13 October 2017.

In Progress Reviews

Progress is monitored during the conceptualization, development, and production phases through a series of reviews with Review Committees and the teams. The primary goal of the review is to ensure the teams develop their intended solution and resolve any roadblocks to development.

Teams will schedule the specific time and date for their review using the Innovation Challenge website on a first come, first served  basis. To the fullest extent possible the entire team is expected to be present and support the reviews.

Initial Design Review

The Initial Design Review evaluates the architecture of the system (and subsystems) to ensure the design has an expectation of being developed within the allotted budget and schedule and accomplish the goals of the Innovation Challenge. The review will assess the design documentation (conceptual design and specific hardware and software designs), cost estimates, Key Performance Measure, and risks to implementation.

Teams will complete the Initial Design Review template for this review and submit the review package prior to the review.  The Initial Design review is anticipated to take approximately 15 minutes followed by a brief question and answer phase.  Teams may add additional information into the back-up section of the briefing to add context and demonstrate the maturity of the design.

Development/Production Review

The Development/Production Review evaluates the maturity of the design and assesses the design's readiness for production.  The review will focus on ability of the design to meet the team’s performance requirements and adequate design definition to support procurement, fabrication, and assembly.

Teams will complete the Development/Production Review template for this review and submit the review package prior to the review. The Development/Production readiness reviews are anticipated to take approximately 15 minutes followed by a brief question and answer phase. Teams may add additional information into the back-up section of the briefing to add context and demonstrate the maturity of the design.

Flight/Test Readiness Review

The Flight/Test Readiness Review evaluates that the system has demonstrated it can safely fly, meet the requirements defined by the team, and complete the challenge. The review will focus on the built system and actual system performance.

Teams will complete the Flight/Test Readiness Review template for this review and submit the review package prior to the review.  Flight/Test Readiness Review is anticipated to take approximately 10 minutes followed by static display and briefing of the developed system. Teams may add additional information into the back-up section of the briefing to add context and demonstrate the maturity of the design.

Final Report

Teams will be required to develop and deliver a final report on the system No Later Than 1 June 2018.  The report shall document the systems intended mission and the function of the key components that enable the capability.  This should include a functional description of the major components and functions, software operation (major functions, interactions, and output), and operator interface.

An assessment of system performance during the Fly-Off should also be included the report. The assessment should describe performance during the Fly-Off but also an assessment of intended system role and actual performance.

The conclusion should include recommended updates to the system to address any shortcomings identified during the Innovation Challenge and or enable the full capability intended by the team.

The report is limited to 10 pages, 10 point font, double spaced.

Safety Review

After the design has been produced and is ready for flight a Safety Review shall be scheduled with the DSO. Teams will schedule the Safety Review directly with the DSO. The Safety Review may result in items to be resolved prior to issuance of an Authority To Operate (ATO). Once the ATO has been issued flight operations can be conducted in the designated indoor flying facility.

NOTE: THE TEAM SHALL NOT CONDUCT FLIGHT TESTING WITHOUT AN AUTHORITY TO OPERATE BY THE SAFETY OFFICER.  FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS RULE SHALL RESULT IN IMMEDIATE DISQUALIFICATION FROM THE INNOVATION CHALLENGE

Flight Testing

Flight testing shall occur only in the designated indoor flying facility and only with systems that have received an ATO.

Flight testing will be scheduled through the Innovation Challenge website (http://asure.asu.edu/innovation-challenge) and will only be conducted during scheduled time. The team’s Faculty Advisor will be in attendance for all flight operations. If the faculty advisor cannot attend, coordinate with the DSO or ASURE for an appropriate alternate to attend. Only members of the team and the Innovation Challenge staff are permitted to attend any events that include flight operations.

The team’s safety lead will conduct a preflight safety briefing and ensure the team follows the flight operations checklist and conducts the event with a focus on safety.

Fly Off

The final phase of program is a fly-off event to evaluate the technical and operational capabilities developed by the various teams. A series of tasks will be used to assess the technical and operational performance of each team’s air vehicle, sensor package, and control station. The winner of the challenge will be selected by the Review Committee based upon the capabilities demonstrated during the fly-off event.

A detailed briefing will be given at the beginning of the fly-off event covering the logistics and timings of the event, rules and good conduct for safe operations, pre-flight briefings, etc.

Teams will also be given an order of events and strict time schedule for flight test. The schedule is necessarily tight and teams who are not ready to fly at their appointed slot time will be disqualified. It is expected that teams will arrive with a fully serviceable sUAS that is in good working condition.

The specific tasks and course layout will be announced at a later date.

The DSO shall have absolute discretion to refuse a team permission to fly, or to order the termination of a flight in progress. Only teams with an ATO will be eligible to enter the fly-off event.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can teams augment the budget with additional funding?

No. Team budgets have been established to create a standard unit cost for a system and also ensure all teams have equal funding.

Can teams submit multiple proposals?

No. Each team may make only one submission.

I just submitted our proposal and noticed and error, can I submit and update?

Yes. Updates to proposals can be submitted, only the latest version will be evaluated as part of the Innovation Challenge.

Can I use technology I’ve worked on previously?

Yes. The goal is to develop an innovative solution for disaster relief teams, this can include work you completed previously. However, the design must adhere to the design requirements.

Can I assume the use of other equipment, such as a high performance computing, available via a network connection?

No. Disaster relief teams typically only use or have access to the equipment they carry. Similarly, proposal cannot include or utilize equipment that is not part of the design.

Can a solution include multiple air vehicles?

Yes. A team can implement multiple air vehicles as part of a design. However, the multiple air vehicles must adhere to the design requirements.

I have an idea for a solution that would help with disaster relief teams but its not specifically listed in the Innovation Challenge documentation, can I submit the idea?

Yes. Once of the goals of the Innovation Challenge is to get the broadest perspective and solution set possible.

Can I use commercial or Open Source software as part of my proposal?

Yes. Commercial and Open Source software can be used in accordance with the EULA. However software costs must be included as part of the budget.

Can I fly my design off campus or in a lab?

No. Any flights outside of scheduled events will result in disqualification of the team from the Innovation Challenge.

Do we have to design everything from scratch?

No. System designs can utilize commercially available products in their design.

Can my proposal utilize a commercially existing drone?

Yes. A commercially available system can be proposed as a solution, in an “as is” or a modified configuration. However, the costs of the commercial products must be included in the team’s budget.

Are some requirements more important than others?

No. Review times are necessarily fixed to support the schedules of the Review Committee members, the teams, and facilities required to host the reviews.

I totaled up the weight for all the components that make up the air vehicle for my proposal and it exceeds the weight requirement, will this eliminate my proposal from consideration?

No. Implementation of the requirements will be assessed. But exceeding a requirement with an accompanying plan to address the non-conforming design will not eliminate a design from consideration.

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