The DC Area Drone User Group will be holding it's first ever search and rescue challenge. The purpose of this event is 1) as a test run to see what capabilities we have within the group that might be of use to search and rescue professionals in the future 2) to help develop and enhance our capabilities in this regard and 3) to have fun. We encourage you to start putting together teams and working up your equipment now to be ready to participate in this event. Spectators are welcome, but the priority at the event will be working with participating teams.
We will seek to mimic a lost person situation by scattering mannequins, clothes, and personal effects around a wide area. Teams will collect imagery of the area and have 45 minutes after flying to analyze the imagery to see if they can identify where the mannequins and lost items are. There will be a point system for finding different items.
We are also going to have a rescue component to this contest. Once the location of the mannequins are located teams will be able to earn extra points by dropping a small first aid kit and/or small water bottle within 25 feet of the mannequin. You do not need to participate in the rescue element of this competition to be competitive for the search effort, and we may be able to provide some equipment to help with the delivery for teams that are unable to devise their own. We will provide additional information about this as we get closer to the event.
First prize will be bragging rights and $75 worth of equipment from your choice of RC Timer or Hobby King. There may also be additional prizes if others want to donate to this effort. If you are willing to donate to either the prizes or to purchase items for the event such as mannequins, please email [masked] .
Please make a note in the comments section below if you are planning to put together a team. We are also looking for volunteers to assist with the event, so please let us also know in the comments if you are willing to help out.
The contest rules are based on the highly successful North Texas Drone User Group search and rescue challenge. They are detailed below, but may change slightly as we get closer to the event.
1) Each team may be comprised of no more than 3 persons. We recommend at least two for safety but solo operators are welcome.
2) All specifics as to the Missing Objects we will be searching for will be relayed to each team the day of the event.
3) Each team will have a setup period where they will not fly but they can do anything else. This will be referred to as the Pre-Flight phase. Immediately following the Pre-Flight period the team will have ONE HOUR to conduct their search, referred to as the Flight Hour. Use your time wisely!
4) Prior to start, each team will submit in written form a flight plan report to the Contest Directors. On this one sheet of paper include:
Names of team members, your drone type, all major components on-board your drone, which frequencies you use and what channels they are on and describe your general plan on how you intend to search. This doesn't need to be very detailed but we need to know what is in the air and the frequencies so we can DE-conflict them.
5) The flight ceiling will be 350ft, floor will be 20ft. Busting these limits for periods of time lasting over 1 minute will result in point reduction or disqualification.
6) You may only have one drone in the air per team at a time.
7) Put your name, address and phone number somewhere on your drone in case it gets away from you.
8) Crashes will not disqualify you. Bad launches and poor landings do not count as crashes. You will know when you have crashed when you cannot relaunch or repair it in time to beat the one hour allotted for flying. If your drone makes it back to the staging area you may prep or repair for the next launch if you have time. You may also use whatever data that may be salvageable but once you personally leave the takeoff/landing staging area you may not conduct any further searches. Please make sure the Contest Directors know that you need to retrieve your drone before leaving the staging area. If you find Missing Objects while going to retrieve your drone we suggest not saying anything.
9) An object is considered found when you can say what color or shape it is and be able to point to its approximate location on a Google map. For example, you can say “red item” or “shoe” or “body” or “tent” and it will count if you can give a location good enough for those on foot to find it. No one will be in the field on foot during the contest except those retrieving their crashed drones.
10) Found objects will count as points. Until the day of the competition it is undetermined exactly what the items will be, but they will reflect real SAR items and situations and be fitting to the missing subjects’ description. The team with the most points wins. Ties will be broken based on who concludes their search first by DECLARING to a Contest Director that they are done with the Flight Hour.
11) You have ONE HOUR after you have concluded your search (declared done or not) to report Missing Objects to a Contest Director to receive points. This is referred to as the Post-Processing Period.
12) IF we have enough contestants we will consider staggering take-offs by 5-10 minutes per team. If we have a lot of teams we may limit take offs to 3 per hour and just extend the contest time.
1 point for accomplishing:
- Auto takeoff (Multi-Rotor or Fixed Wing) 1 point limit
- Auto landing (Multi-Rotor or Fixed Wing) 1 point limit
- Finding a minor search article “shoe, bag, hat, etc.” by declaring its color, no point limit
- Finding a minor search article “shoe, bag, hat, etc.” by correctly declaring exactly what it is, no point limit
- Identifying any form of tracks made by an animal, human or machine. 1 point limit
- Identifying any livestock (cows, chickens, horses etc.) 1 point limit
- Identifying fenced areas and/or unmarked roads (unmarked on Google maps) 1 point limit
3 points for accomplishing:
- Finding major search articles such as body, clothes, etc.
Minus 2 points for crashing in a way that you can not continue.
Minus 5 points for busting 400 feet at any time.
Minus 3 points for busting 375 feet for more than 1 minute.
Minus 3 points for busting the floor limit of 20 feet for more than 1 minute (except for landings!).
Minus 10 points for flying over spectators, second offense is automatic disqualification, DON'T DO IT.
---Mandatory Onboard and Functioning Equipment for Your Drone---
1) A method of stabilization
2) Have a Return to Launch/Home option enabled and activatable by a hand held transmitter AND a Ground Control Station
3) Live telemetry feed
4) Failsafe: Return to Launch/Home upon sustained loss of connection to the Ground Control Station (20 seconds is long enough, shorter if you want)
---Other things to know/consider---
1) The size of the search area will be fair to the short range of multi-rotors as well as the long range ability of fixed wing.
2) No object will require you to fly into or close to other objects such as trees in order to see it.
3) Objects will be “pre-organized” into Major and Minor objects but a list of the objects will not be made known to participants.
This event could be dangerous to life and limb. We all know that propellers can cut skin and remove limbs. You must make every reasonable effort to make your drone as safe as you know how to make it. Do NOT fly over people, keep your drone in the search field area. If you think you are going to crash, do so as safely as you can.
We may adjust the rules as we get closer to the event. Please note that in a real world SAR situation no one should ever fly any equipment except at the request of professional first responders.
Thank you, and we look forward to your participation.