ASSURE Partner, K-State Salina, Led Innovation Competition, Rewards Drone Enthusiasts for Their Innovative Ideas

Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus played an integral role in an unmanned aircraft systems flight competition in Starkville, Mississippi, where prize money from federal innovation funding was awarded to drone teams for their emergency safety ideas.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Public Safety Communications Research Division, along with K-State Salina and Mississippi State University, hosted the First Responder UAS Triple Challenge, a prize competition for drone enthusiasts to build and operate unmanned aircraft that can better help first responders in emergency situations.

Prize money was awarded for each challenge in the multi-challenge competition.

For Challenge 3.1, winners were selected for improving drone image detection and enhanced navigation techniques to close the distance more quickly. Team AMAV from the University of Maryland won $40,000 for first place; Team ARCC from Pennsylvania State University won $20,000 for second place; and Team Aggie from North Carolina A&T State University/Purdue University won $10,000 for third place. The First Responders’ Choice Award of $5,000 went to Team AMAV from the University of Maryland.

In Challenge 3.2, teams were awarded prize money for innovating a cost-effective, robust and easily deployable drone solution that delivers data files in a cellular-denied area. Winning first place and $40,000 was Team ARCC from Penn State; second place and $20,000 went to Team Mantech/FLYT Aerospace; and third place and $10,000 went to Team EpiSci. The First Responders’ Choice Award and $5,000 was claimed by Team ARCC from Penn State.

The competition also awarded prize money to teams for developing an attack and countermeasure on open-source navigation or control software that may disrupt a drone’s navigation for Challenge 3.3. The following winners were awarded $30,000 each: Team Mantech/FLYT Aerospace, Team ARCC from Penn State and Team CNA Corporation/RIIS LLC.

K-State Salina, along with Capital Consulting, will be involved with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s 2023 drone challenge: the First Responder UAS Indoor Challenge. In this competition, competitors will embark on indoor disaster response and search and rescue, finding solutions for first responders in those difficult scenarios.

Up to $685,000 in total prize money will be awarded to competitors as part of the First Responder UAS Indoor Challenge. For more information on the challenge and to register, visit

By Heather Wagoner

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