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News Archive 2001 - 2010

UTA Student Team Wins International UAV Competition

July 7, 2005

A team comprised of four UTA Aerospace Engineering students and one faculty advisor took top honors at the 3rd Annual Student Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Competition in Maryland. The competition was organized by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and was held at Naval Air Station Patuxent River - Webster Field Annex. Fourteen university teams participated in the competition, including Cal Poly Pomona, Cornell and MIT.

The team won first place for Best Overall Performance, plus the Best Mission Performance and Best Safety Design awards. The team's system performed a complete autonomous mission, including automatic takeoff, GPS-guided navigation and automatic target imaging, and was the first system in the history of the competition to perform an automatic landing.

Student teams were scored on three elements: a journal paper, oral briefing/static judging and mission performance. The mission objectives were for an unmanned, radio controllable aircraft to be launched and transition or continue to autonomous flight, navigate a specified course and use onboard payload sensors to locate and assess a series of man-made objects before returning to the launch point for landing.

The team was comprised of Degreed Undergraduate Enrico “Eric” Pianori (team captain and pilot), Sophomore Venko Damianov (ground control station supervisor), Junior Ryan Slater (payload operator), Senior Rolando Castilleja (support) and Computer Science & Engineering Senior Lecturer Dr. Arthur Reyes, one of the team’s advisors. Two additional team members could not attend the competition: Sophomore Amen Omoragbon, who provided dedicated support, and Senior Jon-Paul Eisenring, who was instrumental in building and testing the craft’s airframe and its components. “We conducted flight tests 10 hours a day for several days before we left for the event, probably logging more than 50 flights,” said Dr. Reyes.

Faculty members of UTA’s Autonomous Vehicles Laboratory (AVL) were additional advisors. Students from aerospace, computer science, electrical, industrial and mechanical engineering develop systems in the AVL for international collegiate student competitions. These systems will eventually serve as test beds for evaluating research ideas. The AVL is directed by four College of Engineering faculty members in addition to Dr. Reyes: Aerospace Engineering’s Drs. Atilla Dogan and Kamesh Subbarao, Industrial Engineering’s Dr. Brian Huff and Computer Science & Engineering’s Faculty Research Associate G. Michael Youngblood.