Bath students named winners in international drone competition

A team of engineering students from the University of Bath, has won the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ (IMechE) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Challenge 2017.

The UAS Challenge is the leading international student competition in the aerospace sector. Teams of undergraduate students compete in building a UAS, commonly known as a drone, capable of autonomous operation in a scenario of disaster relief, providing new ways to deliver aid and emergency provisions to those in greatest need. The drones are put to test in various missions including payload delivery, endurance and reconnaissance.

Team Bath Drones, a multidisciplinary group of students from the Aerospace, and Integrated Mechanical & Electrical Engineering (IMEE) degree programmes at Bath, saw off competition from 22 university teams from all over the world to be crowned overall winners of the 2017 competition which took place at the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre in Llanbedr, north-west Wales.

The team’s 2017 design, named Artemis, is a flying-wing with variable pitch propulsion and drag rudders. The students were praised by the judging panel for their technical innovations, design excellence, manufacturing quality and flight performance in the competition.

Now in its third year, the competition bridges the gap between academia and industry in developing applied UAS-related activities, giving students the perfect opportunity to strengthen links with industry and enhance employment opportunities.

Team Bath Drones project leader, Alex Powell, said: “The team is over the moon to be crowned UAS Challenge grand champions. It was a long road to get here and we are all extremely pleased with the final result. All of us are still in shock at getting the award which made all those long nights in the lab worth it!

“The team would also like to thank our supervisors Drs Jon du Bois, Pejman Iravani and David Cleaver for their help along the way, our sponsors for their contributions and the Faculty of Engineering & Design at the University for their support. Finally, thank you to all of the other teams for making it such a great event. We all had a fantastic time making new friends and we are look forward to defending our title next year.”

Dr Jon du Bois, said: “These competitions are a fantastic opportunity for students to put all of their engineering skills into practice. You can see it really motivates the students and it's something we pride ourselves on doing well at the University of Bath. Our team have worked really hard for this and I'm delighted at their well-deserved recognition.”

Dr Pejman Iravani commented: “We are extremely proud of our students. Our team has shown their technical excellence, their strong team-working practices and their outstanding enthusiasm and dedication to engineering. We wish them very well in their new stage of their careers as they graduate and make excellent engineers in industry.”

Dr David Cleaver, added said: “One of the strongest elements to this year's team was their ability to propose and deliver innovative solutions to real problems. This has become a recurring theme to the Bath entries over the past three years, reflecting the Bath Undergraduate programmes. I believe this innovation combined with the skill set to deliver it, sets Team Bath Drones apart. I wish the team all the best in their future careers and look forward to next year's entry.”

Rod Williams, Chief Scrutineer of the UAS Challenge, said: “The teams at UAS Challenge 2017 have shown a great deal of skill in integrating a range of technical systems to develop an excellent set of very viable aircraft. The enthusiasm and team work shown was first class and they have applied considerable academic knowledge. In scrutineering, we were able to inspect closely the platforms’ structural and systems integrity and assess the airworthiness of the aircraft as a whole.

“Across the board, the teams had grasped the technical attributes required and the implications air safety; the Challenge proved an invaluable means of converting theoretical designs into practical, safe and capable aircraft. They have reacted well to meet challenging manufacturing requirements, refining solutions to evolving airworthiness issues or effecting practicable repairs without compromising safety.

“A marvellous effort all-round, with some exceptional aerospace engineering performances. Well done to all teams, an excellent and enjoyable event.”

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