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News Archive 2001 - 2010

UTA Returns to Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Competition

September 14, 2004

Four students and two faculty members represented The University of Texas at Arlington at the 2nd Annual Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Student Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Competition at Webster Field in St. Inigoes, Maryland. The six are part of a resurgent Autonomous Vehicles Laboratory (AVL) in the College of Engineering.

Webster Field is home to the U.S. Navy’s first all-UAV squadron, Fleet Composite Squadron 6, VC-6; a fitting venue for the competition. The competition challenges undergraduate student teams to design, build and fly an aerial vehicle capable of automatically flying to a sequence of preprogrammed GPS locations and imaging ground targets at two of those locations. Of the nine teams attending, only six were able to get their vehicles into the air. The UTA team brought its entry to the competition for static display only and received 3rd place. The team did not attempt to fly their vehicle; it had not been adequately tested beforehand.

UTA students at the event were Computer Science & Engineering Senior Bud Pitman, Aerospace Engineering Senior Bancy Punnoose, Mechanical Engineering Senior Jaret Burgess and Aerospace Engineering Junior Eric Pianori. Industrial Engineering Associate Professor Brian Huff and Computer Science & Engineering Research Associate Michael Youngblood, faculty advisors for the group, accompanied the team.

During the 1990’s, UAV teams from UTA consistently ranked in the top 10 in national competitions. One of their designs was highlighted on the television show National Geographic Explorer. Interest in the program faltered following the retirement of the team’s faculty advisor. The AVL team plans to fly their entry in the Student UAV Competition next year. The AVL website is located at