KSU Poly to Lead Drone Prize Competition

Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus has been selected to lead the third unmanned aircraft systems, prize competition by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST.

Named the First Responder UAS Triple Challenge, this prize competition will focus on the advancement of UAS technology to support first responders and help speed the time to save lives. The competition is comprised of three challenges where participants will use their UAS ingenuity to deliver creative solutions to advance first responder operations.

In partnership with Mississippi State University, K-State Polytechnic will coordinate the UAS Triple Challenge beginning in August, with live competitions in Starkville, Mississippi, and Salina in spring/summer 2022.

“This project has been a long time in the making for our team at K-State,” said Kurt Barnhart, professor of aviation and lead of the K-State grant team. “We are privileged to partner with the challenge team at NIST in its ongoing effort to push innovative technologies forward for all first responders, providing life-saving help when needed the most. We’re also excited to be working with the excellent team at Mississippi State University’s Raspet Flight Laboratory to jointly develop and deliver this competition.”

The three competitions composing the UAS Triple Challenge cover various areas of UAS technology. FastFind: UAS Search Optimized is focused on search and rescue using optical sensors and data analysis to improve image detection and location. LifeLink: UAS Data Relay is centered around supporting continuous delivery of broadband data in a degraded cellular area, and ShieldsUP! Securing UAS Navigation and Control requires participants to identify cybersecurity threats and countermeasures in three specific attack areas.

“Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are a critical resource for addressing public safety and aiding first responders,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, Kansas. “I was pleased to support this initiative through my leadership role on the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee and look forward to the talent and hard work Kansas State University’s expertise will bring polytechnic.k-state.edu to the challenge.”

More than $700,000 will be awarded in prizes throughout the three competitions. Prize recipients will be determined by a panel of judges, assisted by a team of subject matter experts, throughout each stage of the competitions.

All UAS enthusiasts are encouraged to compete in the First Responder UAS Triple Challenge. The call for submissions opens Aug. 1. For more information on the competition and to register, visit uastriplechallenge.com.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. To learn more about NIST, visit NIST.gov.

Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus is home to the university’s unmanned aircraft systems program, which is a national leader in the unmanned aviation field and provides many engagement and education opportunities. Learn more at polytechnic.k-state.edu.

Mississippi State University’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory is the nation’s leading academic research center dedicated exclusively to the advancement of unmanned aircraft systems. Raspet is the only institute in the world designated both as the FAA’s UAS Safety Research Facility and as the official UAS test site for both the FAA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Home to a fleet of the largest and most capable unmanned aircraft in academic use, Raspet conducts UAS research on behalf of federal agencies and commercial industry alike, and it remains a world leader in composite material research. MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at mssstate.edu.