CALL FOR PARTICIPATION: Innovation Challenge: Small UAV Comms

10 November, 2020 | Events & Conferences, Member Updates
Article by Kamesh Namuduri, Chair, IEEE VTS Ad Hoc Committee on Drones
IEEE VTS is pleased to announce an Innovation Challenge in Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Communications for current undergraduate and graduate college and university students.

Objective—Participants engineer a working solution for coordination between two UASs to accomplish a task jointly. The objective is to demonstrate the use of UAS-to-UAS communication and coordination in a realistic, operational flight environment.

Suggested Equipment—Two small drones (UAS-1 and UAS-2) and a ground control station (GCS) are each equipped with an embedded computer board (such as a Raspberry PI, Arduino, Jason) and a radio (such as WiFi, LoRa, LTE, or any custom design).

While the figure below illustrates a suggested framework for the design, the choices regarding the number of GCSs, and the location of the embedded computer and radio, are up to the designers.

UAS-to-UAS Communications Innovation Challenge Framework (Click to view larger image)

Future terahertz (THz) communications will utilize the frequency spectrum around 300 GHz. This technology provides a promising solution for future high-data-rate communications due to the high available bandwidth.


Projects should demonstrate a collaborative task involving two UASs.

UAS-to-UAS communications—i.e., UAS-1 and UAS-2 sharing telemetry and/or application-specific information between them and with the GCS—should be an integral component of the project.

Projects must be simple enough to be demonstrated, but, useful enough to be part of a real-world application with a broader impact.


This innovation challenge is open to small teams of students attending colleges and universities around the world. Each team must identify a leader and the team leader must be a student member of IEEE VTS at the time of submission.

Selection Process

Stage One: 01 August through 25 November 2020

During Stage One, teams will submit a three-page concept paper with their design, use case, communication protocol and illustrations following the IEEE conference paper format. About 10 teams will be selected based on the submitted concepts.

Stage One winners will be announced by 10 December 2020. Each Stage One winning team will receive a USD$500 prize and a certificate from the IEEE VTS Ad Hoc Committee on Drones, to be presented at IEEE VTC2020-Fall, 4 – 7 October 2020. Only those teams selected in Stage One will be eligible to move to Stage Two.

Stage Two: 1 January 2021 through 31 March 2021

The winning Stage One teams will submit their program code, a video showing an outdoor demonstration of their chosen use case, and all supporting documentation.

A maximum of three teams will be selected during Stage Two. Given the current COVID pandemic situation and worldwide travel restrictions, IEEE VTS has engaged professional pilots from Unmanned Experts Inc. to perform flight tests of all Stage Two winning designs.

However, if the COVID pandemic eases and travel is allowed, one member from each team will be invited to participate in a demonstration to be held in the US at an appropriate venue (to be determined). Partial support towards travel costs will be provided to the participants.

The first-, second-, and third-place teams from Stage Two will receive cash awards of $2,000, $1,500, and $1,000 respectively, plus a certificate to be presented at VTC2021-Spring.

The IEEE VTS Ad Hoc Committee on Drones will evaluate the submissions:

  • Kamesh Namuduri (University of North Texas, USA)
  • Rui Zhang (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
  • Ismail Guvenc (North Carolina State University, USA)
  • David W. Matolak (University of South Carolina, USA)
  • H. Jin Kim (Seoul National University, Korea)
  • Uwe-Carsten Fiebig (German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Communications and Navigation, Germany)
  • Helka-Liina Maattanen (Ericsson, Finland)
  • Jae Hong Lee (Seoul National University, Korea)

Teams Own the Design Copyrights

The teams will retain copyright for their designs and programs. However, they must share the design, software (code), and documentation details with the selection committee. The committee will provide a letter of assurance to protect the team’s intellectual property or copyrights through IEEE.

Why is IEEE VTS organizing this event?

The Society established the IEEE VTS Ad Hoc Committee on Drones to promote UAS research and education within the IEEE community. In addition, IEEE Communication Society and IEEE VTS are jointly sponsoring the development of UAS-to-UAS communication standards through IEEE P1920.2 Working Group. The innovation challenge aims to promote UAS research among students.

Timeline and Submission Process: The Stage 1 submission window is 1 August through 25 November 2020. Stage 1 Winners will be announced by 10 December, and will be recognized at IEEE VTC2020-Fall. The Stage 2 submission window is 1 January 2021 through 31 March 2021. Winners will be recognized at IEEE VTC2021-Spring.

For More Information

Contact IEEE VTS Ad Hoc Committee on Drones Chair Kamesh Namuduri for information on submission and other inquiries.

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