Middlesex University students were the highest scoring team at an international drone competition held in the US after taking on some of the world’s top engineers and universities.
The students impressed the judges in the final of UAVForge, an international competition for unmanned air vehicles (UAV) run by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (US equivalent of the MoD) and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic.
The competition saw some of the world best teams from countries including India, Singapore, Holland and the US compete at Fort Stewart military base in Georgia. The Middlesex team was the only UK competitor and clocked up the highest scores in the competition designed to bring together the latest advancements in UAV technology.
All teams were tasked with designing and building a UAV that could undertake challenges such as flying for two miles, observing a target, relaying information back to base and vertical takeoff and landing. The Middlesex team further impressed the judges as the only team who successfully created a backpackable system that could be carried and operated by a lone soldier, as specified by the event organisers.
Middlesex robotics expert Dr Stephen Prior led the team who created the UAV called HALO alongside students Mehmet Ali Erbil, Mantas Brazinskas and Witold Mielniczek.
Dr Prior said: “The competition was an intense and challenging experience as there were high expectations and we were contending with a tough environment and weather conditions. We had long days with 5am starts, but our team were very professional and performed to a high standard throughout. Despite the competitive nature there was a good sense of community with teams helping each other out and the students made some good contacts.”
Middlesex University PhD student Mehmet Ali Erbil said: “It’s an amazing accomplishment that I’ve spent a couple of years working towards. The team worked tirelessly on HALO, but it was worth it and I couldn’t have asked for a better team. It’s incredible to have competed at such a high level and come home with the highest score.”
Top: Mdx's HALO UAV in action
Bottom: The Mdx's team: from left - Mantas Brazinskas, Mehmet Ali Erbil, Dr Stephen Prior