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University of Arizona Micro Air Vehicle Club

The UA MAV team: (left to right at back) Professor Sergey Shkarayev, Nick Mindock and Curtis Purrington; and (left to right at front) David Addai, Gavin Kumar and Daniel Shucker.

UA Flies High at International Competition

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UA Flies High at International Competition

June 12, 2009
UA Engineering students put their micro air vehicle through numerous technical challenges for a place on the podium.

The University of Arizona Micro Air Vehicle Club took second place in overall performance and first place in indoor flight performance in the 4th International Micro Air Vehicle Competition, which took place June 1-5 in Pensacola, Fla.

Micro Air Vehicles, or MAVs, are very small airplanes that are useful for military and civilian surveillance, search and rescue, and many other applications. This competition required the student team to fly MAVs both indoors and outdoors.

“Our team demonstrated outstanding performance,” said Sergey Shkarayev, the student team’s faculty advisor and an associate professor in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. Teams from the U.S., Germany, France and Australia entered designs into the competition.

In competition, the miniature aircraft had to land on small raised platforms, navigate through buildings to identify targets, survive gusting winds, and demonstrate superior endurance. The University of Arizona vehicle is unique because it can fly horizontally like a normal airplane and also transition to a hovering mode for maneuvering in tight places. This makes the vehicle very adaptable, and capable of performing well in a different environments.

Micro Air Vehicle
A team member holds the UA’s foot-wide MAV.

Thanks to this innovative design, the UA was the only team able to use the same vehicle for all the competitions different challenges. “The team successfully completed all of the missions and the vehicle drew a lot of attention from other teams,” said Shkarayev. “The hard work and dedication paid off when the team took first place in the indoor competition and second place over all.”

Outdoor missions pushed the limits of autonomous flight, requiring the MAVs to fly to specified GPS coordinates, land at precise locations, and even follow vehicles by camera. The indoor missions tested the maneuverability and hardiness of the designs.

The team was quick to thank its sponsors – the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command; the University of Arizona’s College of Engineering; the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, and the Arizona Student Union Association.

The UA MAV hovers just before entering a room during the indoor competition.

The UA MAV team has a long history of international success at these meetings. Its past achievements include:

  • Three major awards at the 1st U.S.-Asian Demonstration and Assessment of Micro Aerial and Unmanned Ground Vehicle Technology in Agra, India, in 2008: (1) Best mission performance (tied with MIT; ENAC-Toulouse, France; and Martin Mueller Engineering, Germany); (2) Best MAV design; and (3) U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development & Engineering Center Meritorious Award (with MIT and ENAC).
  • Second place in 10th International Micro Air Vehicle Competition in Provo, Utah, in 2006.
  • First place in 1st US-European Micro-Aerial Vehicle Technology Demonstration and Assessment, in Germany in 2005.
  • Second place in 8th International Micro Air Vehicle Competition in Tucson, Ariz., in 2004.
  • First place in the 4th International Micro Aerial Vehicle Meeting in Toulouse, France, in 2004.
  • Third place in 7th International Micro Air Vehicle Competition in Gainesville, Fla., in 2003.

Video of the UA MAV in action

Room Navigation
Paintball Drop
Perch and Wait
Precise Navigation
Pole Racing
Urban Canyon