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Team FOXTROT & Team NUST Airworks all set to participate in UAS Challenge 2020

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) UK has been at the heart of the mechanical engineering profession since 1847. With the vision to improve the world through engineering? IMechE has over 120,000 members in 140 countries.

About the UAS Challenge

CAD model of Team FOXTRTOT's UAS Challenge 2020

Launched in 2014 with the key objectives of developing professional engineers and inspiring the next generation, the Challenge is now a highly anticipated event attracting teams from across the UK and around the World. Each annual Challenge cycle kicks-off in September, ending with a final event in June the following year. Teams of undergraduates from all over the world take part in the Challenge. They undertake a full design and build cycle of a UAS with specific mission objectives.

The Challenge bridges the gap between academia and industry in developing applied UAS-related activities, providing the perfect opportunity to strengthen links with industry, other universities and enhance employment opportunities for graduates in the aerospace sector. 

Competitive university teams from all around th

e world participate in this discernible challenge. Team FOXTROT and NUST Airworks, the pride of Pakistan have been participating in the UAS Challenge regularly. It is worthy to notice that team Nust Airworks were awarded the "Media and Engagement Prize" in the UAS Challenge 2018. (Click the image below to view their award winning video)

Team FOXTRTOT of has also had its share of worthy achievements and has put tireless efforts in all areas of the challenge in the past years. This year, Team FOXTRTOT's CAD model of the UAS challenge participating aircraft had been featured on IMechE website, letting the team stand out from all participating teams across the world and making the nation proud!

Due to the unfortunate outbreak of COVID-19, this year the challenge followed by award ceremony will be held virtually. (You may click here to register and attend this event)

The Pakistani teams Team FOXTRTOT and NUST Airworks were interviewed ahead of the awards ceremony taking place on the 19th of June 2020 and here is what the participating teams had to say:

Q: Could you briefly tell us about your team – any interesting facts or background information?

NUST Airworks (NA): Team NUST Airworks wasn’t just an idea, it stemmed from wonder and the hope of being able to conjure and create, which then evolved into a mission; building efficient aerial machines from which mankind can benefit immensely.

Launched by four aviation hobbyists, the team has expanded to thirty members, all undergraduates majoring in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. It is completely self-taught, with members working part time round the year on different drone projects having developed their own self-financed workspace. Together, the students have contributed many things to the team; a passion for aviation, the willpower to excel, a need to create and the ability to merge friendship with teamwork.

Inspired by a yearning desire to prove what Pakistan’s youth can achieve the team went on to winning the title of “Grand Champions” in the Institution’s UAS Challenge 2019.

Team FOXTRTOT (TF): The most interesting fact has to be the regional and cultural diversity in the team, and how every one of us with different backgrounds joined together as a team and worked towards a common objective, that is to engineer a UAS to represent our university and country while also raising awareness among students about how the technology could be used for the greater good in civilian applications.

Q: Could you tell us about the design and innovation aspect of your aircraft?

Nust Airworks: This year the team decided to go with a tiltrotor tri-copter-plane hybrid based on the principles of vectored yaw to exhibit flexibility during deployment and facilitate improved drop accuracy of payloads. The purpose of the model was to have a UAV that would offer both horizontal and vertical flight characteristics. Another sub goal of the team was to build a UAV that was not just efficient in terms of flight but also in terms of manufacturing. The new manufacturing techniques adopted by the team also made the final product more precise to its blueprints.

Team FOXTRTOT: Project Stingray was designed as a hybrid UAS with VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) capability, coupled with horizontal flight capability with transition using a twin tilt rotor mechanism. The entire aircraft housing was manufactured with composite material mainly, glass fibre reinforced plastic, with carbon fibre used for reinforcement where needed.

Throughout the project, the team was considering implementing a morphing wing design as an innovative aspect, starting with the tail, however, due to recent circumstances it remained unfinished.

Q: How could your UAV be used to help vulnerable people and fight against COVID-19?

Nust Airworks: The philosophy of drones is to work remotely and with reduced human resources. That's why UAVs can prove to be a useful tool against COVID-19. With the country facing short-staffed hospitals and an underdeveloped road network, our drones with a little retrofitting could help in three major areas:

  1. Transferring medicines, samples and supplies between hospitals thereby avoiding road traffic. The UAV can also make use of its VTOL capabilities to transport to remote areas minimising the amount of transport personnel having to interact with frontline workers.

  2. Spraying disinfectant over densely populated areas. It could be also be deployed to deliver food rations to people who have been tested positive or are at high risk.

  3. Attaching thermal sensors (rated to work at distances) to the UAV can also aid in monitoring of open hotspots, allowing operators to monitor safe zones and still be able to warn and communicate with the general public remotely. These functions are better achieved due to our UAVs hover capabilities.

Team FOXTRTOT: We believe our UAV can be used for three main purposes to help the vulnerable people to fight against COVID-19:

  1. To act as a surveillance device to keep track of people to ensure they are properly distancing themselves during curfew.

  2. To help and ease the burden of health care workers, where our UAV can transport and deliver test kits and necessary life support equipment.

  3. Furthermore, the UAS can be used for courier delivery services, so people can order basic necessities while at home, delivered via our very own UAS which has been designed for a payload capability of up to 2.5 kg and could easily land in small places.

Q: What are the key skills you learnt from this project and what were the challenges you faced?

Nust Airworks: We have gained profound knowledge regarding aerodynamics, aircraft structures, material selections and how to make tasks cost effective which in itself is commendable for 1st and 2nd year students. Furthermore, we have also learnt how to make a project commercially viable and make sure it has a functional design, keeping operators in mind.

On the business side, we gained experience contacting companies and closing sponsorship deals which gave us an idea of how to market ourselves, negotiate and network.

Working together as a team with a dedicated goal in mind helped us visualise a professional working environment. It was crucial that we learnt how to pre-plan, efficiently coordinate the entire team and cultivate a team culture allowing each member to learn and contribute fully to the project.

Team FOXTRTOT: The most useful key skill we learned has to be teamwork, working together, learn from one another and working towards a common objective. Other than that, it gave us an insight into the key skills required in the modern practical world, such as designing, prototyping, coding, and troubleshooting autonomous aircrafts.

The greatest challenge we faced was getting a good sponsor to fund our project, however after great persistence and with time, we eventually gained enough sponsorship for our project. The second challenge came during the COVID-19 lockdown period and that was coping with the uncertainty of the project development. The team is doing well now and has found ways of making this free time useful at home.

To recognise the efforts of teams to date, the UAS Challenge Organising Committee has agreed to host a virtual ceremony, 2:30pm BST, 19 June 2020) and present teams with the following Awards for:

  • Design

  • Safety

  • Innovation

  • Media and Engagement

  • Business Proposition

  • Highest-Placed New Entrant


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