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Canadian UAV Student Competition – The Students Weigh In

Canadian UAV Student Competition

If you recall, we told you about the Canadian UAV Student Competition yesterday.  A good blend of hands on technical training mixed with real world business scenarios has led to the creation of a world-class event.  In this article we will bring to you insights from a couple of the UAV student teams who participated in the event.

Team Guardian

Team Guardian is from Simon Fraser University , Vancouver BC, Canada.

Q. How did you get interested in drones?

Most of us had a childhood interest in aviation. Working on drones is a relatively new field of robotics that was exciting. Getting all the systems to work is a great way to put text book knowledge into practice.

Q. How did you get involved with this competition?

Team GUARDIAN has been attending the USC competition since 2011. We learned about it on line and it has been a goal to work towards each year since.

Q. How would you like to use your knowledge, as a UAV student, of drones in the future?

Members of Team GUARDIAN have already established a start-up company that puts knowledge gained on the team into practice for customers. The main purpose of this venture is to survey agricultural fields to determine the health of the crops. Team GUARDIAN also focuses on search and rescue related tasks.

Q. What kind of drone are you using, did you build it yourself?

We are using and off- the –shelf fixed wing aircraft kits as the base of our system. We heavily modified the Hugin II airframe to meet our needs and to have all our onboard systems fit within the fuselage.

Q. If you were responsible for setting drone regulations for the country, what would you do differently?

Have more regulated areas for drone flight testing; designated fields that do not require certification.

VAMUdeS

Sherbrooke - VAMUdeSUniversité de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke Quebec. Sherbrooke is located about 2 hrs south – east of Montreal just north of the Vermont border. It is a French speaking university so English is their second language. This team is the annual winner; they have won 6 of 7 competitions. In the 2nd completion in 2009, another team from Sherbooke won.

Q. How did you get interested in drones?

I wanted to be part of a group outside of my classes, to do something and get practical experience. Of all the available groups, I found VAMUdeS to be a high-tech team with a lot to teach me and a fascinating approach. I got the itch by working in the group and here I am now!

Q. How did you get involved with this competition?

Same answer than question 1, I entered the group and it lead me to the competitions, where I really got the itch. Competitions are very intense events and I love the adrenaline it gets me. It got me even more involved in the group.

Q. How would you like to use your knowledge of drones in the future?

I would like to be on a technical group designing new drones. However I believe the market isn’t  quite there and I am not sure that I will get the opportunity.

Q. What kind of drone are you using, did you build it yourself?

We use a traditional fixed-wing with an electric based motor, using 2 six cells Li-Po batteries. The aircraft is very modular, allowing the team to execute a wide array of missions, from mapping a whole zone to a search and rescue in the Australian desert. We can use up to 3 different cameras including an infrared one at the same time and can drop various supplies.

The plane was designed and built by the mechanical team in order to do all these different missions and to be very stable in order to ensure we get good quality photos.

Most of the electronic pieces of the plane were designed by the electrical team or are modified version of off the shelves electronic devices. We build our own auto-pilot, payload, PPM encoder and built boards for ours communication devices and GPS.

Q. If you were responsible for setting drone regulations for the country, what would you do differently?

I believe that if we want to get the edge in this emerging domain we must stop fearing all it can do and adapt regulations so that it is possible to use drones in the industry. Concretely, I would try to set up flight corridor at which only drones could fly (except near airports) and evaluate as fast as possible an actual solution so that drones wouldn’t be a danger to the citizens.

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