The National Institute of Standards and Safety Public Safety Communications Research has launched the First Responder UAS Endurance Challenge with prize offerings totalling $552,000. UAS Challenge opened on April 1 for proposal submissions through the website.

The challenge, which will be hosted by ASU Research Enterprise, in partnership with Capital Consulting Corporation in April 2021, was created to crowd-source inventive drone designs that will support first responders. The first window to receive team funding for the challenge extends through April 30.

The result of the First Responder UAS Endurance Challenge will support the public safety community and its stakeholders.

Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAS provide many different mission capabilities, but their flight time is limited. The payload capacity, energy source and flight time are linked through design trade-offs that can be optimized for efficiency and flexibility. This challenge is designed to keep a UAS and its payload airborne for the longest time possible to support first responders on the ground while they conduct their mission. The advancement of UAS research achieved through this challenge will help support the development and operation of UAS that are intended to host critical tools for public safety missions, such as wireless communications systems.


NIST PSCR established the Innovation Accelerator to spearhead the research that supports the development and deployment of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). PSCR’s Open Innovation team engages public safety entities, government, academia, and industry to identify innovation opportunities and foster technology advancements for public safety communications through prize competitions and challenges.

Project Objectives

The purpose of this Challenge is to advance UAS technologies by building and flying drones designed to support first responders. One of the barriers for the public safety community is having access to drones that can fly for long periods of time, ninety minutes or greater, while carrying a heavy payload. Emergency responders can accomplish their mission more efficiently and effectively if the drone flight time for a known payload is maximized. Since the payload capacity, energy source, flight characteristics, and flight time are linked together through design trade-offs, PSCR is exploring ways to optimize drones for increased flight endurance while making it more efficient and flexible for use by public safety.

In pursuit of that goal, PSCR is investigating options to enable state and local first responders the ability to deploy drones for law enforcement, firefighting, and other emergency services needing broadband connectivity and services. In a typical search-and-rescue scenario, a team of one or two first responders may be dispatched to a location where broadband LTE communications are unavailable. To maintain communications, first responders might deploy an LTE system using a drone to provide communications to first responders on the ground and extend coverage to an area that is remote from where the drone initially launched. Some key features and capabilities of interest to public safety include:

  • The drone and supporting system equipment can be stored in the cargo space of an SUV or pickup truck.
  • The drone should be light in weight (one-person setup), easy to set up, capable of Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) and not require special tools.
  • The drone may be required to move between different locations in order to maintain communications coverage.
  • The drone needs to continuously fly as long as possible, be easily recovered, stored and readied for the next mission.

PSCR is aware that various organizations have, or are developing, drones with higher payload capacities and long endurance; however, these drones typically cost more than what a local public safety department might be able to afford. Additionally, they may not be practical due to the difficulty of transporting large equipment and/or the need for specialized training to operate it, both of which can be difficult for city/state agencies with limited staff and resources. Therefore, PSCR is hosting this 4-stage challenge to design, develop, and demonstrate drones with extended flight time and other capabilities that support first responders to help advance the research and push the boundaries of UAS technology for public safety.

Deliverables Due

Participants will be asked to:

  • Submit a concept paper using an online form, outlining the UAS knowledge, skills, capabilities and design approach for this challenge
  • Create or purchase hardware necessary to build a prototype and implement the design approach outlined within the concept paper
  • Produce a Test flight video demonstrating the UAS prototype capabilities and safety compliance
  • Participate in a 5-day Live Competition demonstrating full capabilities and features of the UAS prototype

Source: Press Release

UAV DACH: Beitrag im Original auf, mit freundlicher Genehmigung von UAS Vision automatisch importiert. Der Beitrag gibt nicht unbedingt die Meinung oder Position des UAV DACH e.V. wieder. Das Original ist in englischer Sprache.