Bath drone squad takes home European robotics prize



The University of Bath’s student drone team has won a special prize at the European Robotics League (ERL) for its collision avoidance capabilities.

Team Bath Drones was awarded the SESAR special prize at the Seville leg of the 2019 ERL, which took place at the city’s Advanced Centre for Aerospace Technologies (CATEC). Each drone was required to traverse several waypoints while avoiding obstacles and other non-cooperative drones, without any intervention from a human operator. The Bath team, comprising students from the university’s aerospace and IMEE (Integrated Mechanical & Electrical Engineering) degree programmes, scored the most points during the challenge, claiming top spot.

“The SESAR challenge tries to address one of the main problems when integrating UAVs into shared airspace, that of collision avoidance in a dynamic environment,” said Dr Pejman Iravani, senior lecturer in Robotics and Autonomous Systems and Team Bath Drones advisor. “Only by the development of advanced sense and avoid technologies will it be possible to exploit the full potential of UAVs for commercial applications.

“At the University of Bath we are working towards this goal by developing planning algorithms that take into account risk to ground, infrastructure and other air users and combine this with real-time sensor data to minimise the potential of any damage.”

The ERL concept stems from its predecessors, the euRathlon and RoCKIn competitions, and focuses on tasks that robots must execute in realistic environments. Composed of multiple tournaments, the competition is hosted in a number of different locations across Europe.

“Entering the ERL was a fantastic experience with the SESAR prize capping off an extremely enjoyable week,” said Team Bath Drones project leader Freddie Sherratt. “This is the first time we’ve entered the ERL and despite having the smallest team we have once again proved our quality. I look forward to seeing how we can further improve our drone for the next event.”

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