Competition with cash prize launched as service widens search for innovative small, quiet and strong vehicles

A micro air vehicle (MAV) competition with cash prizes for international research teams with innovative technologies has been announced by the US Army.

Prizes will be awarded at a conference in Germany next September for an MAV system no larger than 200mm (8in) in wingspan or length; no heavier than 150g (5.3oz) ; able to operate for 30min up to a radius of 0.5km (0.3nm) ; with out-of-sight autonomy and quieter than 60dB. The MAV must be able to withstand gusts of up to 20kt (37km/h), use a launch device no heavier than 2kg (4.4lb) and have an altitude ceiling of 3,000ft (1,000m).

"We need some power sources that are beyond what is obvious today. We need to see if power can be harvested from the ambient [environment], draw power from thermals and the wind or you might want to use microwaves. Everything should be on the table," says Dr Sreerangapatam Sampath, chief of the aeromechanics branch of the US Army's European research office in London.

Additional awards are available for technologies that enable efficient power use, artificial intelligence, multifunctional material use, high manoeuvrability and high power density.

Prizes will be presented at the first US-European workshop on micro aerial vehicles, to be held at Elmau Castle near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany from 19-21 September 2005. The workshop will identify which technologies need improvement and the most promising route to a working MAV.

The organisers also include the UK universities of Cambridge and Sheffield, the US Georgia Tech research institute, the German Technical University of Braunschweig, the German aerospace agency and the US Air Force research laboratory. They hope to raise $300,000 in sponsorship to help pay for the prizes.


Source: Flight International