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FAQ

1. How do I participate?

Simply register for the competition, and read the instructions. It is totally free to participate.

2. Is my state involved or territory involved?

You can check on the States Page. By following the link to your state or territory's page, you can get more information about your state or territory's participation and your state coordinator’s contact info.

3. If my state or territory is not involved can I still participate?

Yes. We want every student to have an opportunity to participate who wants to. We have a Wild Card Category for teams who live in states and territories where the governor has not yet joined the RWDC. You will compete against teams from schools in other states and territories that have not yet officially joined.

4. Can I use a different CAD tool than PTC Creo and still participate?

Yes. You can use any software tools that you choose. Through generous corporate donations, we provide everyone with all of the software you need to participate TOTALLY FREE. But if you are paying for an alternative software package that you prefer, you may use it.

5. What are the minimum hardware requirements for the software necessary for the Challenge?

See the software page

6. What are the deadlines for the Challenge?

All of the deadlines are available here.

7. Where can I get support?


Technical Questions:

1. What is the page limit of the technical report? It was 80 pages last year, and we are assuming it is the same, but the challenge is much more complex this year; we are already close to exceeding it.

The page limit is the same as last year (i.e., 80 pages). The challenge here will be condensing and covering all the areas of the challenge (team submission, team engagement, document the system design, document the mission plan, and document the business case) at an appropriate level. Please remember to use concise and clear language to portray and relay what you need to for the challenge. This is a skill the students will need to establish and improve upon throughout their academic and professional careers.

Here are some resources that should be helpful:

Also, please keep in mind that teams can lose up to 15 points if the Engineering Notebook is more than 80 pages or if the required paragraph order is not followed.

2. How will the detection of the European corn borer help calculate our yield?

If you can determine, or project, the ability of your solution to identify the presence, and potentially the number of corn borers present on average per plant, you will be able to enter that data in the provided corn borer related calculators to develop an indication of effect on yield based on treatment.

3. Also, how do we know if the bugs are detected?

This really depends on the sensor type and resolution that you select. You should be able to provide supporting background that your chosen sensor will provide direct or indirect indicators of the presence and number of an infestation (i.e., can you literally see the bugs, can you tell the plant is sick based on visual or spectral appearance, how soon can you make an argument that detection would be made?).

4. We are given the footprint spreadsheet from last year's National Challenge, but it doesn't seem to be based upon the borers. The 4 or 8 pixels needed for detection is based on a four foot tall boy rather than the European corn borer.

The concept of footprint is agnostic to the target in question. Consider the sensor that you plan to use and its resolution (e.g., spectral, temporal, spatial, and radiometric). Is it pointable or can it track a target of interest through a gimbal mount? What resolution would be needed (in pixels) to identify an region of the field that is infested? A single plant? An individual insect? What level of resolution, based on your sensor approach, is actually needed to provide the data needed to make an assessment? How will that impact your aircraft design, flight path development, etc.?

5. We are also confused about the mission plan. Last year, mission plan was a big part of the challenge, and a flight pattern sheet was also given. Furthermore, the area depicted in the challenge is not 100% cornfield. Should we still search over the entire area?

The mission plan this year should be developed by the team in conjunction with their design (i.e., defelopment of a Theory of Operation). The team should examine and research flight profiles currently being used for Precision Agriculture (and other types of aerial data collection) and recommend a profile that would best address flight over the specific area of the challenge. Their response will be dependent on several considerations:

-Will they operate one UAV or multiple?
-What assets will be a part of their system? -Are there any specific limitations or constraints of their system design (e.g., communication range)?
-What is their recommended manner of operation?
-What is the rationale supporting their recommendation(s)?

6. Also, the ground crew's salary is based on the total mission time, so how do we calculate the total time?

Yearly salary of each crew role does not play a factor. Instead, what is important is determining the cost to operate per hour (think hourly instead of salaried employees). What roles are required to operate the system? What is the charge for each hour of operation? The cost calculator spreadsheet helps to determine:

1) Acquisition cost to design and build UAS (includes engineering labor, construction labor, and component/equipment cost)
2) Per hour cost (aquisition cost subdivided by number of missions per year and expected duration of mission, crew cost, consumable costs such as fuel)
3) Setup time - autocalculated (based on hourly crew costs)

When you are creating your base UAS design and theory of operation try to determine:
1) How long it will take your system to overfly the region (based on 1 mile x 1 mile area, speed, endurance, and range of UAV[s])
2) How many flights will be required to capture the desired data (e.g., multispectral sensor capture of plants)?
3) Time required to analyze data (i.e., analyze multispectral sensor data to determine health of plants)?

Based on these you should be able to calculate the mission duration.

Let's say your design uses one UAV and it takes 11 hours to capture and analyze all the data in the subject area:
-one UAV flight covers 1/4 total area in 2.25 hrs [4 flights required]
-plus .33hrs to refuel [3 refuels = 1hour]
-plus 1hr to analyze data
Mission duration = 11 hours

Now consider that it may be possible to use two UAVs and cut your total time down to 5.83 hours (i.e., almost 50% of single UAV mission time):
-data capture per UAV=4.5hrs [2 flights each]
-plus single refuel [.33hrs]
-plus 1 hour to analyze data
Mission Duration = 5.83 hours

However, there are several considerations and drawbacks with use of multiple UAVs:
1) Frequencies for control and telemetry need to be worked out to prevent interference of inadvertent control of the wrong aircraft (may cost more and increase complexity of the design)
2) Acquisition costs would rise (double component/equipment cost for UAV elements and possible need for additional command, control, and communication [C3] and support equipment)
3) Hourly operational costs will rise (need additional observer/spotter and pilot/operator)
4) Changes may be required to FAA legislation to support multiple UAV flight in same area (depends on size and complexity of aircraft)

7. What is the page limit of the technical report? It was 80 pages last year, and we are assuming it is the same, but the challenge is much more complex this year; we are already close to exceeding it.


The page limit is the same as last year (i.e., 80 pages). The challenge here will be condensing and covering all the areas of the challenge (team submission, team engagement, document the system design, document the mission plan, and document the business case) at an appropriate level. Please remember to use concise and clear language to portray and relay what you need to for the challenge. This is a skill the students will need to establish and improve upon throughout their academic and professional careers.

Here are some resources that should be helpful:
Also, please keep in mind that teams can lose up to 15 points if the Engineering Notebook is more than 80 pages or if the required paragraph order is not followed.

8. It states in the Detailed Background under Video/Sensor Communications that the video systems given are not appropriate for sensors that capture visual data requiring significant processing. Multispectral sensor payloads fall under this category, and so there is not a video system that supports the multispectral sensor. Is there a video system that supports significant processing sensors?

There is no catalog option that supports live video transmission of the higher capability visual sensors (only X250/X500 sensor supported). The challenge here, if you feel live sensor visibility is required, is to perform research to see if there is such a system available. You will need to determine and document (in the Engineering Notebook) the cost, weight, power requirements, and capabilities of such a solution and identify how it is integrated into your design.

Please keep in mind that the teams are strongly encouraged to explore alternative options to those methods, components, and elements presented as baseline catalog options in the Detailed Background document. Remember, much of this technology changes daily. As such, newer, more capable and affordable options will become available in the public domain after the release of our challenge documents. The provision of this caveat supports student selection of newly released technology that may better meet their needs, without limiting the solutions to the technology options we provide. We feel allowing students to select their own components (located through research) will potentially result in a much more relevant and successful design solution. Consider the baseline catalog options to be a starting point to be used to accomplish basic capability in the context of the challenge.