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AUVSI Student Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) Challenge

Hello Traveler! Are you interested in designing and building fully autonomous systems?

Are you interested in any of the following topics:

  • Full-stack web development
  • Mechanical/Aerospace design
  • RC Systems and UAVs
  • Cyber and Computer Systems Security
  • Computer Vision, AI, and Machine Learning
  • Embedded Systems Programming
  • Cameras
  • Autopilots

Then Rutgers AIAA's RU Autonomous is the right team for you!

Overview and Objectives

RU Autonomous is Rutgers' Student Unmanned Aerial Systems team. We competed in the anual AUVSI SUAS competition in Patuxent River, MD.

This competition is designed to mimic a challenge that an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) would face in a real world mission. This mission can be in either the military or the civilian sector to show the great utility of UAV systems.

The core objectives of the flight mission every year are:

  • Autonomous Waypoint Navigation
  • Autonomous Image Capture in a constrained search area

Contingent upon the completion of these objectives, a number of secondary objectives have been introduced and continue to change every year. These tasks vary widely and include:

  • Autonomous target recognition and localization
  • Connection to a wireless network and retrieval of mission data
  • In-flight re-tasking of flight objectives and the introduction of new search areas
  • A payload drop
  • Real time avoidance of stationary and mobile obstacles
  • etc...

In addition to the flight mission there are two non-technical components. The first is a journal paper which details all major design decisions made in the creation of the system as well as how every component is implemented and the measures taken to ensure safe operation. The paper challenges the team to make the judges understand their design philosophy and how they are approaching each of the tasks laid out for them. The other component is an oral presentation on the day before the flight mission to a panel of experienced industry engineers. This takes the form of a flight readiness review, where the team must prove, with supporting evidence, that they have thoroughly tested their system, that it is safe to fly the next day, and that it will perform to expectations.

Current System

This year RU Autonomous has selected to shift gears with our airframe and use the My Twin Dream fixed-wing aircraft. The UAV has a 6 foot wingspan and a maximum payload capacity of 4.5kg. The flight control system consists of the well respected 3DR Pixhawk 4 Autopilot. The onboard imagery systems consists of a 5MP 50MM Global shutter machine vision USB3.0 camera taking pictures at a 1/2400 shutter speed, and an onboard computer system autonoous imagery capturing and processing.

For more information about our progress for 2017 competition, please join our Facebook group!


Rutgers AIAA has been competing in this competition for 5 years, since 2009, and continues to improve each year

Past finishes include:

  • 2014: 7th place overall out of 33 teams
  • 2013: 11th place overall out of 35 teams
  • 2012: 11th place overall out of 29 teams
  • 2010: 19th place overall out of 25 teams