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NASA Langley opens registration for SAND Challenge

Logo: NASA Langley SAND Challenge

NASA Langley opened registration for its Safeguard with Autonomous Navigation Demonstration (SAND) Challenge, which will be held May 2020 in Hampton, Virginia. According to NASA Langley, the SAND Challenge will be an opportunity for small businesses to compete in an autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) competition.

The challenge will address some of the safety critical risks associated with flying UAVs in the national airspace system.

NASA released the competition scenario, which reads:
Hampton, Virginia, was hit by a large and devastating hurricane. The effect of the hurricane was to flood much of the area, knock down trees, damage houses/buildings, disrupt power lines and cause some injuries to residents. As part of the recovery effort, crews are working to locate incapacitated people, assess the damage to neighborhoods, look for downed power lines and determine the extend of the remaining flooding. To meet those objectives, both manned and unmanned aircraft are being leveraged to expedite the response. The Concept of Operations employed assumes UAS will remain within a specific volume of airspace to ensure the safety of unmanned aircraft operating in the vicinity, as well as the safety of first responders that are working in adjacent zones. UAS are assigned to specific areas to perform search and surveillance efforts. Safeguard provides range containment for vehicles independent of the UAS operator’s ability to monitor the vehicle, either by direct line of sight or through telemetered data. Its use for SAND is similar to beyond visual line of sight applications.

NASA Langley’s patented Safeguard technology will be used to help small business competitors mitigate such risks while they complete a set of complex mission profiles. For this competition, it will be configured to warn competitors (and auto-pilots) of impending excursions (or violations) while also objectively measuring performance with respect to the rules of the competition. The challenge will follow the Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 Regulation Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations.

The winning team will receive a $20,000 grand prize. Register for the competition here.

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