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A successful 2018 Droniada for our students

Our students came second in 2018 Droniada; photo: WUThrust

Our students came second in 2018 Droniada; photo: WUThrust

The WUThrust Student Research Group operating at the WUT Faculty of Electrical Engineering was the runner-up in Poland’s nationwide competition for academic teams in drone missions in the U-Space and data analytics.

The 2018 Droniada run from June 6 to June 9 at Krakow Aero Club’s airfield in Pobiednik Wielki. The competition involved three tests: a technical test (a 15-minute long general overview of the flying platform design and the systems implemented in the UAV); an emergency delivery in the U-Space (supply of a drug to designated households within up to 30 minutes); and an inspection of an overhead power line (detecting changes in the position of (a) pylon top(s) after a storm which caused damage to a medium-voltage power line).

“Collision prevention systems implemented in our drones worked just as properly as the detection system designed to find the destination platforms for the blood vial delivery,” says Kamil Niedźwiedź, the leader of WUThrust. “The mission was entirely done in an autonomous flight mode, i.e. without the operator’s intervention. Back in October, when we were forming our Research Group, an autonomous flight was just a distant vision.” The second test was primarily based on an image analysis and accurate QR code reading. Like with the first mission, the flight was autonomous.

Our students came as runners-up. The Raptors Team of Lodz University of Technology was better by a slight margin. The Top 3 was complete with the KNR Robotics Student Research Group of Bialystok University of Technology.

“We are very pleased with our performance,” says Kamil Niedźwiedź. “For me, our primary and key success is that the preparations have completely redefined us as a team, making us a team that has not given up despite all hardships and a great deal of failures along the way. Our work on the project has consolidated us as we have developed a certain bond and confidence that we can depend on each other and can do a lot together.

Our team was put to a serious test just before the start of Droniada. “On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at 8:00 a.m. our drone which was intended to compete in the main event crashed during the tests on the model aircraft airfield outside Warsaw and the whole structure was effectively in pieces,” says Kamil Niedźwiedź. “I am very proud of my mates on the team; at 9:00 a.m., they all showed up at the workshop and we devised an action plan and allocated the tasks so as to get new components for a drone as soon as possible. We built a fully operable flying platform ready for a mission in 24 hours. My big thanks to all the team and to Mr Maciej Piasek of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, who prepared a new power distribution board for our drone by 2:00 a.m. so that just a couple of hours later we were ready to start tests of the new structure. Our thanks should also go to Docent Tomasz Wink, PhD Eng., the supervisor of our Research Group; were it not for his support, we would have no access to the tools we need for our work on projects. I would also like to thank the hosts of the 2018 Droniada, especially Mr Sławek Kosieliński, the key originator of the drone competition in Poland. I am very grateful for his virtually 24 hour availability to our team and the support we received in all aspects of the preparations for the competition and for the event itself.”

Our students are happy with their result but they by no means intend to rest on their laurels. “Our success in Droniada has certainly spurred us to carry on and we are planning to take up an ambitious project for the next year but I won’t spill any details now,” says Kamil Niedźwiedź.