16 teams aim to light up Lac Saint-Jean area in student UAS competition

There is a power struggle shaping up in Québec’s Lac Saint-Jean region. It is between student teams who will be vying to fix damaged solar panels using their custom-designed UAS as part of the Unmanned Systems Canada Student UAS Competition.

Students from 16 universities across Canada will compete in the UAS competition to fix damaged solar panels in Québec's Lac Saint-Jean region. Unmanned Systems Canada Photo
Students from 16 universities across Canada will compete in the UAS competition to fix damaged solar panels in Québec’s Lac Saint-Jean region. Unmanned Systems Canada Photo
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Teams from 16 Canadian universities and colleges will be participating, including first time competitors from the British Columbia Institute of Technology, University of British Columbia – Okanagan, University of Manitoba, and a new team from Montreal’s École Polytechnique. Once again Centre d’Excellence sur les Drone – CED Alma, Que., will open its doors to host the competition from May 3 to 5, 2019, the 11th annual event.

Solar power is the fastest-growing source of new energy. Given that solar farms can range in size from one to 100 acres, UAVs are now being deployed to provide imagery of damaged solar panels, a more accurate method than inspectors using handheld cameras. The mission for the competition is to provide support to a utility company after a wind storm. Tasks include surveying a solar farm, locating major damage to individual panels, identifying significant changes to the solar field, and placing inspection markers adjacent to critical cells on damaged panels.

This is a “made in Canada” simulated Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) scenario. Although the UAV will be required to go BVLOS, the competition spotters will have the drone in sight at all times.

The competition is designed for both fixed- and rotary-wing UAS. Umanned Systems Canada Photo
The competition is designed for both fixed- and rotary-wing UAS. Umanned Systems Canada Photo

The scenario is designed to attract both fixed- and rotary-wing UAS. Will one platform have an advantage? Will there be a unique solution? Each year, the bar is raised to attract first class teams with innovative ideas. The judging starts with each team making a company “pitch” featuring their system, individual talent, and approach to solving the problem. Then the flying phase; competitive in the sky but collaborative in the hangar. Veteran teams are on hand to help rookies pick up the pieces. The last task is a written report on the findings submitted to the judges upon the completion of the flights.

The competition is designed and judged by a dedicated group of Unmanned Systems Canada experts along with industry sponsors, and is supported by local volunteers. Through various activities with students, the association is helping to foster greater success in the future of Canadian UAS industry.

Thanks to the support and onsite enthusiasm from sponsors, this world-class event provides opportunities for the best and brightest to display leadership, problem solving and teamwork all in a stressful competitive environment; a real-life job interview.

Results have paid off, as many UAS competitors have been hired by a sponsoring company.

Sponsors are wowed at the talent in action and are proud to have their logo in direct line of sight. When tested on the international stage, our Canadian teams not only take home various awards, but consistently place at or near the top.

Many UAS competitors have already been hired by a company that is sponsoring the competition. Unmanned Systems Canada Photo
Many UAS competitors have already been hired by a company that is sponsoring the competition. Unmanned Systems Canada Photo

To become involved as a sponsor, and to support and celebrate the future of the Canadian UAS sector, contact competition@unmannedsystems.ca.

2019 UAS Competition Teams

  • British Columbia Institute of Technology – BCIT MERC
  • Carleton University – Blackbird
  • Concordia University – UAV Concordia
  • École Polytechique – Élikos
  • École de technologie Supérieur- ETS – Dronolab
  • McGill University – Aero McGill Drones
  • Queens University – Queens Aero Design Team
  • Ryerson University – RUAV
  • Simon Fraser University – Team Guardian
  • University of British Columbia – UBC UAS
  • University of British Columbia – Okanagan – UBC AERO
  • University of Manitoba – Snowy Owl
  • Université de Sherbrooke – VAMUdeS
  • University of Toronto – Aerial Robotics Division
  • University of Toronto – UAV Division
  • University of Victoria – UVic Aero

Competition details can be found here.

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