The $500,000 prize competition is scheduled for April 2014 in Indiana.Teams from across the nation will travel to Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center and compete to meet technology milestones, fostering development of technologies that may reduce the technical challenges of safely operating autonomous unmanned aircraft systems in commercial airspace.
"One way NASA can help with tough technology challenges is through prize competitions," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington. "This challenge can help to stimulate private sector investment that is many times greater than the cash value of the prize and increase the number and diversity of individuals, organizations and teams that are addressing advancement of autonomous unmanned aircraft systems technology."
NASA is providing the prize money to the winning team as part of the agency's Centennial Challenges competitions, which seek inventive solutions to problems of interest to the agency and the nation. Prizes are awarded only after solutions are successfully demonstrated.
"NASA Aeronautics has recently rolled out an exciting new strategic vision to strengthen the benefits of our research for society and our nation's economy," said Thomas Irvine, NASA's deputy associate administrator for aeronautics research in Washington. "One of the new elements of our vision will be to leverage technologies from other areas or disciplines, such as autonomy, and to bring solutions to the civil aviation arena. Through the UAS Airspace Operations Challenge, we seek to find out whether autonomy, and possibly other technologies, can aid in removing the barriers that exist to unmanned aircraft systems having full and ready access to the National Airspace System."
Earlier this year, NASA selected DPI as the allied organization to conduct the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airspace Operations Challenge. While NASA provides the prize purse for Centennial Challenges, the competitions are managed by non-profit allied organizations that cover the cost of operations through commercial or private sponsorships. For more information, including how to register a team for the 2014 Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airspace Operations Challenge, visit http://uasaoc.org.
The Centennial Challenges program is managed by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing, and flying hardware for use in NASA's future missions.