2022 IEEE Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Competition

Planning has begun for this exciting new competition, which is open to all organizations and individuals.
IEEE Computer Society
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Summary Challenge

 A competition of autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV, also called drones) will be held in March 2022 at Purdue’s UAV Research and Test Facility (PURT). The indoor facility will be decorated with modular blocks as obstacles. The UAVs need to fly autonomously (i.e., without a teleoperator) and follow one moving object (a programmable model car). There will be multiple moving objects traveling at most 1 meter/second. It is possible that the moving objects may travel underneath blocks and create occlusion for short durations. The UAV that can follow the target moving object at the desired distance the longest (measured in seconds) wins. This is a software-only competition.

This competition has two stages. 

  1. The first stage uses a simulator for qualification. Each team can submit up to 7 solutions and the best solution is used. The top 10 teams in the first stage are qualified to enter the second stage.
  2. In the second stage, all teams will use the same hardware (PX4 Vision) selected by the organizing team for launching the UAVs in Purdue’s laboratory. Each team has three chances, 10 minutes each; the highest score is used for selecting the winners.



  1. James Goppert
  2. Yung-Hsiang Lu
  3. Ming-Ching Chang


Schedule (Tentative)

  • 2021/06/01: Initial announcement
  • 2021/07/31: Hardware specification, reference solution in simulator
  • 2021/08/31: Virtual tutorial about the computer vision and control for this competition
  • 2021/10/01: Stage 1 open: simulator available for qualification
  • 2022/01/15: Stage 1 close
  • 2022/01/31: Teams for Stage 2 announced
  • 2022/03/14 (Monday): PURT open for Stage 2 testing
  • 2022/03/15 (Tuesday): Stage 2 competition


Purdue UAV Research and Test Facility (PURT):

Drone Challenge

The facility is located at Purdue Airport in West Lafayette. It was originally an airplane hangar. The laboratory is equipped with a high-speed motion capture system. The observed space is 180′ (feet, length) x 100′ (width) x30′ (height). Because this laboratory is indoor, it is not restricted by FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations and UAVs can fly autonomously.



Any organization (including non-profit and for-profit) or individual can participate. This competition is held in the United States of America and follows all relevant regulations as well as federal and state laws.


Reimbursement Policy:

No hardware is needed for stage 1 qualification because a simulator is used. For stage 2 contestants, teams have two they have the options: 1) using their own hardware or 2) using the programmable UAV (PX 4 Vision) suggested by the organizers. The contestants may purchase their own hardware. The organizers will reimburse up to $2,000 per team.


Travel Grants:

Each team in the stage 2 competition can obtain up to $2,000 travel grants. If a team uses PX4 Vision, the organizers may launch the UAV in PURT and the team does not need to travel to Purdue campus. If a team uses its own hardware, the team needs to bring the hardware to PURT.


Distance Measurement:

The UAV laboratory is already equipped with a motion capture system that can detect the locations of objects. The motion capture system measures the distances of the UAV and the target ground robot every 0.5 second for 10 minutes. The score is calculated by this equation where distance is in meters:

if distance < 5:

score = 1 – abs(distance – 1)/4


score = 0

For example, if a UAV consistently stays 1 meter from the ground robot, the UAV receives 1 point every 0.5 second. After 10 minutes, the UAV received 1 x 1200 = 1200 points. This equation rewards teams most for following the vehicle at a distance of 1 meter.


Support the Event

Organizational contributors have an opportunity to align their companies with this new and exciting competition. Supporters receive unique opportunities to engage with the event and its participants. This is ideal for identifying new talent, recruitment, and promoting your organization.



Diamond Platinum Gold Silver Bronze
Logo on Web
On Award Certificate
Session Participation*
Booth during Competition
Video Call with Winners
Amount $10,000 $5,000 $3,000 $2,000 $1,000

*Winners will be invited to present in a major conference in 2022.


Long-Term Plan

In 2023 (or later), the organizers plan to decorate PURT as miniature cities. UAVs will need to identify objects (such as people, buildings, vehicles, bridges) or assess situations (such as broken bridges, collapsed buildings).


Contact Regan Picket  – for sponsorship details.