FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

All Challenges -- UAS

Operating from within a university, our team recieves discounts on several parts/systems that we ussually integrate into our system. Some of these parts are heavily modified/customized and their "market price" can not be found through an online vendor. We do receive invoices from the suppliers - however the price quoted to us is discounted because of educational standing. Thus, we were wondering how we should go about signifying the cost of these items on our proposed build of materials - since the product is a one off and there is no "market price".


"Please provide the current market price for the item. If the exact item is no longer available, please provide the current market price for a like item." Furthermore, donated and/or discounted hardware is allowed, but the market value of each component must be estimated and reported as if it were purchased. The list of components will be used in the hardware build sheet to ensure the UAV is compliant with the $20K hardware budget. The $30K hardware budget is in place to ensure that the prototypes created by contestants are similar in cost, that they are affordable to first responders and, in many ways, levels the playing field among contestants. If parts are custom made, the labor costs will not be included but the cost of material will be. In the list of required hardware build documentation, information regarding the materials used, volume and manufacturing process (CNC, 3D print, etc.) will be required to estimate the cost of the hardware in comparison to commercially available hardware.




How can one operate an aircraft with an all up weight greater than 55 lbs under Part 107? It is our understanding that operating a drone weighing over 55 lbs is not one of the waivable operations.


This challenge competition does not allow aircraft that weighs 55 lbs or greater so we don’t expect contestants to obtain an FAA part 107 waiver. Contestants will be required to present adequate proof of compliance with the relevant rules and regulations for any aircraft in Challenges 3.1, 3.2 or 3.3.




Are you able to give a public safety department affordability estimation or target price for each drone system? This is critical for UAS development design with the trade-off between capability versus UAS price?


In a NIST survey of first responders in which they were asked how much they would be willing to pay for a drone that could provide broadband communications coverage, 93% said that they would pay $30K or less. The survey is located at https://www.nist.gov/publications/survey-drone-usage-public-safety-agencies.




Is the cost estimate for the challenge based on one UAS or a fleet?


The cost estimate is calculated and submitted by the Contestant. In other words, the Contestant's proposed approach to meet the Challenge requirements may be one of the major cost factors. Some may choose to use one UAS and others may chose to use several (e.g., a fleet).




Does the requirement to comply with FAA laws and regulations extend to meeting ASTM standards?


The challenge requirements (and federal law) require compliance with FAA laws and regulations. The implementation of ASTM standards are not a requirement (although they are good practice) unless specifically required by the FAA.




Is it necessary to have a FAA Part 107 UAV certified pilot as a official team member during the submission of concept paper or we can hire the certified pilot on a service basis during the final demonstration?


The team must have an a FAA Certified Remote Pilot (under Part 107) fly the drone for all flights. This includes the final demonstration and any test flights within the U.S. National Airspace. The team does not have to have a Part 107 certified pilot during the initial proposal phase, but must have a pilot for all flights within the U.S. National Airspace. Hiring a certified pilot is acceptable.




What type of weather must the drone run in? High Wind/Rain/Smoke? etc


You will be required to operate under the natural weather conditions during the Stage 3 Live Competition (e.g., some wind or light rain). While the Challenge is not requiring or evaluating your UAS under adverse weather conditions, First Responders prefer a UAS that is durable under adverse conditions.




Will there be a separate requirement for cross-wind performance for VTOL?


No. While cross wind conditions will not be evaluated or simulated during the challenge, the drone must be able to handle cross winds that may arise during Stage 3 of the challenge at takeoff and landing, and during flight.




Are there any limitations on what technology can be used as an energy source? For example, are ICE, fuel cell or battery options all on the table? Are hybrid systems such as gas or hydrogen fuel cell valid?


All types of power sources are allowed as long as they meet FAA requirements and are implemented safely.




Are there any restrictions on fuel-type?


There are no restrictions to fuel type as long as the fuel can be safely utilized (by the team, during storage, and the drone) during the challenge.




Are there any requirements imposed for fuel reserve for safe flight?


There are not requirements for dedicated fuel reserves.




Are there any restrictions on the entry of buoyant vehicles apart from the container requirements and tether restrictions?


There are no restrictions on the entry of “buoyant vehicles.” Buoyant vehicles would still need to meet all of the requirements in Challenge Rules.




Is there a wind-velocity requirement to operate in and what are the station-keeping requirements in wind?


While there are no wind velocity requirements under which the drone must operate, the drone is expected to be able to operate in, and be evaluated under (during the Stage 3 live event), wind conditions similar to what equivalent commercial drones typically operate under.




Is there any preference in scoring for teams with custom software/hardware abilities? i.e. avoiding the use of software packages such as ardupilot.


While there are no requirements for having custom software/hardware, the teams are encouraged to innovate as much as possible, and this will likely require some level of customization. Furthermore, since judges have certain discretions in awarding points, and since the Stage 3 Live Demonstration Event, as well as the First Responder’s Choice Award, teams should expect to be as innovative as possible in their approaches.




Do we need to develop new concepts from the ground up or can existing design be entered.


You are free to adapt existing commercial products into your designs.




Will we be able to keep all prototypes or does PSCR require deliverables?


NIST will not keep any of the prototypes. Contestant UAS prototypes are considered intellectual property (see Submission Rights in the Official Challenge Rules




Is noise a consideration at all? Quieter = better?


While there is not a specific evaluation regarding noise, this consideration may be a factor in terms of "ease of use" considerations.




Can I use technology I’ve worked on previously?


Yes. The goal is to develop an innovative solution for first responder teams, which can include work you developed prior to this competition. However, the design must adhere to the UAS Design Specification outlined in the Official Rules.




Why is the drone liability insurance required?


Liability insurance is required for teams prior to flying your UAS for this challenge. This will insure all contestants are covered in the event of an accident during the test flights and for protection for the live demonstration contest. Proof of a teams liability insurance is required to receive prizes through Stage 2 by acquiring an insurance policy through a reputable company or proof of policy from the flight location (club, university, lab or robotics field). A liability insurance policy will be required for each submission to the final Live Demonstration event.




Do we have to design our drone parts from scratch?


No. System designs can utilize commercially-available products in their design.




I plan to use equipment that I have purchased previously. Do I need to document it in the design?


Yes. All parts and materials in the system, regardless of when it was made or purchased, need to be included in the Bill Of Materials (BOM).




What do I do if I don’t have a receipt for an item (e.g., I purchased it a long time ago)?


Please provide the current market price for the item. If the exact item is no longer available, please provide the current market price for a like item.




If we are able to get parts from an outside source donated to us for the challenge, is this acceptable? If so, are we then allowed to name them as contributors to our project?


Donated hardware is allowed, but estimated market value of each component must be known and reported as if it were purchased. The list of components will be used in the hardware build sheet to ensure the UAS is compliant with the $20,000 budget. There are no restrictions to listing your contributors.




Can we put our team logo on the UAS?


You are free to design your UAS as you like. However, the NIST logo cannot be included.




What kind of support or resources are available near the Live Demonstration Event site?


Challenge administrative staff members and live contest site personnel will share site information with Stage 3 winners. There is a major metropolitan area within an hour drive from the live contest site.




Is beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) allowed?


BVLOS is not allowed. All teams will be required to have a direct line of sight to their UAS at all times during all flights.




Is a tether (a physical connection between the drone and the ground) allowed in this Challenge?


The rules state that the system shall not have any Tethers and must be free flying.




Does the challenge have any limitations on foreign drones with specific country of origin? Just asking as federal grants do.


For Challenge 3.3, you are free to use any drone as long as the open-source component is met. For all three challenges, these limitations do not apply to us as we are not procuring any of these drones.




Why are the contest requirements so stringent? For example, the VTOL doesn’t lend well for fixed wing drones to compete.


These restrictions are in place because, when first responders enter rural areas, there won’t likely be an open, flat space for a fixed-wing aircraft to take-off. For these challenges, as long as you are within the outlined parameters, there is nothing prohibiting a fixed-wing flight as long as your UAV can take-off in a small, confined space which is a first responder requirement.




What would be a first responder's budget, approximately?


A survey of first responders in 2018 / 2019 showed us the smaller the budget, the better, meaning $5k or less. 70% of first responders surveyed set a maximum budget of $20k. However, what is affordable today will look different a year from now as these budgets are scalable.




Why is drone innovation important to first responders?


When we try to push the limits of what's currently available and technologically possible, the ideal solution may not be available today or parts may be available across a wide spectrum of manufacturers that require a great deal of integration. The simple answer is what may be commercially available today may not be the best or most cost-effective solution for first responders.




How are first responders managing the flood of data coming in from multiple drone sensors?


There are organizations trying to come up with a solution to the information overload problem. Public safety is known to be confronted with multiple data streams that no single person can extract meaningful data or analyze. This means we must apply machine learning to condense the data and make it actionable. Being able to attack large data sets is an open problem for all machine learning and an unexplored area, but fitting that issue into this challenge and keeping it tenable is a challenge unto its own.




How much of the flight is meant to be automated, and how much should be manually controlled? Is that something that is up to the team, or is there a minimum autonomy level that all teams must achieve?


There is no minimum level of autonomy required and that will vary from system to system. Keep in mind we are seeking solutions that will optimize the search and rescue process so the level of autonomy should be commensurate with that objective.




Will the RTK GPS transponder be provided by Kansas State Univeristy or NIST?


Neither NIST nor K-State will be furnishing any portion of the RTK systems required in the competition (air or ground). There are now very affordable RTK GPS system solutions on the market today.





Challenge 3.1

For the Stage 2 Bill of Materials submission, what do you recommend for UAS and other components we already own?


Regardless of whether you already own a component, all paid amounts of used components must be listed on the Bill of Materials. Please provide the current market price for the item or a like item, whether it's donated, discounted to you or custom made. See a simliar question under the FAQ tab for "All Challenges - UAS" on this website.




What is loiter for challenge 3.1 and can you define it?


Loiter is the ability of the drone to fly over a small region on the ground while maintaining a certain distance and altitude relative to a defined position in the air. This is akin to a circular orbit within a defined airspace.




What happens in the event of a tie in Challenge 3.1 FastFind or 3.2 LifeLink?


In the event of a tie between contestants, the judges will review the evaluations of the contestant submissions to assess if there is a means based on the evaluation data to differentiate the submissions to break the tie. Please reference the Official Rules under the Judging Panel section in the Terms & Conditions for a complete description.




Why is an RTK GPS required for the Stage 3 Live Demonstration?


An RTK GPS is required for the stage 3 live event to accurately mark the UAS position and provide scores for several criterion. The GPS conditions at the live event may cause interference.The cost of the RTK GPS does not count against the cost limit requirement or score for the "weight" requirement. Competitors may choose any RTK GPS device.




Can we get clarification on the signal elements to be used on the UAS for judging as it pertains to challenges 3.1 and 3.2 criteria? Will we be judged on a scenario where the environment will have no 4G signal and all systems, such as video transmission and telemetry, are done exclusively on RF signals? Or, will we always have some kind of 4G signal access? Or, will it be both?


Although there may be some cellular coverage available at the competition location, the intent of the use case is for the UAS to be able to operate in a cellular denied area. As such, any telemetry, video or other data required for the operation of the UAS needs to be transmitted from the UAS to the operator without dependence on an existing external network for backhaul. Therefore, for Challenges 3.1 and 3.2, we will not allow the use of cellular signals (such as 3G, 4G, 5G, etc.) to meet the requirements for your UAS solution. You will need to rely exclusively on RF or microwave equipment that you provide.

To explain further, both “use cases” are based on a cellular denied environment because first responders often operate in remote areas without cellular connectivity. Search & Rescue operations and first responder equipment cannot currently connect to cellular networks, outside of a few exceptions. If there was cellular connectivity available today, the problems of these challenges would’ve already been solved. For example, if cellular was available for Challenge 3.1, then lost hikers could make a phone call to request help and, if cellular was available for Challenge 3.2, then deploying a drone to connect devices would not be needed because the cellular network would connect the devices. We encourage you to review the “Use Case”, Wireless Transceiver and Payload Server requirements in the Official Rules for Challenge 3.2. For Challenge 3.1, please review the “Use Case”.




For FastFind challenge 3.1, do we get a dataset or a peek at the environment where UAS will be deployed to help find missing persons?


The location of the live event is near the MSU campus in Starkville, MS and has access to a great variety of topography and foliage. The total search area will not exceed 1200’ x 2400’. Maximum height of trees in this forest is approximately 30’, and the composition of the forest is predominately pine. Each contestant should design a solution that can deploy the system, perform the search and return the UAS to the launch area within an hour or less.




Did you also see the recent advances in acoustic listening devices to hear and evaluate sounds to identify lost people shouts, cries and banging through artificial intelligence?


The primary goal of Challenge 3.1 is to detect and communicate the location of missing hikers. The lost hikers may be incapacitated and/or have degraded ability to communicate, so any proposed sensor solution would need to be capable of finding a stationary and relatively quiet person.




For Challenge 3.1, can we build a swarm of UAVs or only one UAV is allowed?


All operations at the MSU site must be conducted in accordance with 14 CFR Part 107; 107.35 states : ”A person may not manipulate flight controls or act as a remote pilot in command or visual observer in the operation of more than one unmanned aircraft at the same time.” Therefore, a single operator controlling more than one UAS is explicitly prohibited for this event. Given these FAA Part 107 parameters, the UAS solution can assess design trade-off’s in accordance with contest requirements, as outlined in the UAS Design Specification table beginning on page 5 of the Official Challenge Rules. UAS requirements of particular note: the Total System Weight must be under the 120 lbs. weight limit, the Maximum Gross Takeoff Weight must be less than 55 lbs. per UAS in the system (FAA Part 107 compliance), and the total system cost must be under $20,000.





Challenge 3.2

What is the definition of "hover" for Challenge 3.2?


For challenge 3.2, “hover” is the ability for the UAS to remain within a sphere with a radius of 30 meter centered at a defined position and altitude in space for as long as possible.




Will 3.2 accept solutions for delay-tolerant network instead of / in addition to the real-time communication?


For the specific use case identified for Challenge 3.2, the ideal solution would provide continuous connectivity to all devices on the ground with the minimum possible delay between devices. However, we will accept delay-tolerant networking as long as it works with the end devices. As a reminder, part of your score in Stage 3 will be based on ‘data transfer rate’ and ‘data transfer distance’.




Why is an RTK GPS required for the Stage 3 Live Demonstration?


An RTK GPS is required for the stage 3 live event to accurately mark the UAS position and provide scores for several criterion. The GPS conditions at the live event may cause interference.The cost of the RTK GPS does not count against the cost limit requirement or score for the "weight" requirement. Competitors may choose any RTK GPS device.




Can we get clarification on the signal elements to be used on the UAS for judging as it pertains to challenges 3.1 and 3.2 criteria? Will we be judged on a scenario where the environment will have no 4G signal and all systems, such as video transmission and telemetry, are done exclusively on RF signals? Or, will we always have some kind of 4G signal access? Or, will it be both?


Although there may be some cellular coverage available at the competition location, the intent of the use case is for the UAS to be able to operate in a cellular denied area. As such, any telemetry, video or other data required for the operation of the UAS needs to be transmitted from the UAS to the operator without dependence on an existing external network for backhaul. Therefore, for Challenges 3.1 and 3.2, we will not allow the use of cellular signals (such as 3G, 4G, 5G, etc.) to meet the requirements for your UAS solution. You will need to rely exclusively on RF or microwave equipment that you provide.

To explain further, both “use cases” are based on a cellular denied environment because first responders often operate in remote areas without cellular connectivity. Search & Rescue operations and first responder equipment cannot currently connect to cellular networks, outside of a few exceptions. If there was cellular connectivity available today, the problems of these challenges would’ve already been solved. For example, if cellular was available for Challenge 3.1, then lost hikers could make a phone call to request help and, if cellular was available for Challenge 3.2, then deploying a drone to connect devices would not be needed because the cellular network would connect the devices. We encourage you to review the “Use Case”, Wireless Transceiver and Payload Server requirements in the Official Rules for Challenge 3.2. For Challenge 3.1, please review the “Use Case”.




This year the BOM is limited to $20,000.  This past year the BOM was $30,000 for just the aircraft to carry the payloads of last year.  This year the challenge asks for both an aircraft and the communications system too, with a lower allowable BOM.  We believe this does not leave any feasible design space to provide a product that is durable, reliable, user friendly, maintainable, all the "ilities" that makes something practical for a first responder to be able to actually employ it in the real world.  Would you be able to increase the max allowable BOM to $50,000?


The goal for PSCR is to advance the research and, as such, we strive to push innovation to new heights. In a recent survey conducted by PSCR of First Responders that current use or plan to add UAS capabilities in the near future, over 70% of the respondents indicated their need to limit their budget to $20,000 or less. The drone requirements are different for the new UAS Triple challenge than past PSCR UAS challenges, for example, we are not looking at long flight times or heavy payloads. Again, we believe that first responders have a variety of uses for UAS and the UAS Triple challenge is exploring new uses.




At what distance will the communication system be evaluated?   For example, a system that only needs to talk at 1 mile is a very different technical challenge and price point than a system that needs to reliably communicate at 10 miles.


For the final competition, UE devices will be distributed in a desired coverage area which will not exceed a radius of ½ mile.




What is the bandwidth needed by the searcher out in the woods?  Can it be a low data rate to only send text messages, or a mid data rate to be able to talk voice with the searcher, or a high data rate to push full motion HD video from the searcher out in the woods back to the Cmd Post?  Note, for an equivalent radio technology capability level, range and data rate can be traded one for the other, so both data rate and range need to be defined.


Not to be confused with the search and rescue operation in challenge 3.1 where lost hikers do not have communications devices, for challenge 3.2, we understand that total available bandwidth will depend on multiple variables beyond the transmission technology, including distance and terrain. As a result, each position on the ground may receive different levels of bandwidth. There is no specific minimum bandwidth requirement. Each location would be considered connected when the network can complete an ICMP ping to the device; however, highest scores will be awarded based on the total available bandwidth and distance to all devices.




Once the range and bandwidth are defined, how many searchers out in the woods does the comm system need to simultaneously communicate with?  What is the total bandwidth requirement? For example, if you need 1080p video resolution using H264 compression, that is ~5 mbps (with no margin), and you simultaneously need video from 4 searchers out in the field concurrently the total bandwidth needed is ~20 mbps plus margin.


For challenge 3.2, there will be multiple first responders requiring communication simultaneously. The exact number will not be known until the stage 3 live event, but there will be at least three and no more than six UE devices. We understand there will design trade-offs that competitors will need to make to score the highest in stage 3. Please review the scoring criteria in the official rules.




How many radios need to be included in the BOM?  clearly there needs to be at least 3 radios (1 at the Cmd Post, 1 on the drone, 1 with a searcher out in the woods) but if we need to communicate with multiple searchers out in the woods at the same time, do those radios also count in the BOM?


The BOM should include any communication devices that are required to relay information from the UAS to the controller. Additional LMR-type radios that would be used in an actual search-and-rescue scenario would be provided by the first responder agency, and would not be counted in the contestant’s BOM. For the purpose of this competition, the task of locating the lost hiker is considered complete when the contestant reports the location of the panel of judges at the command post.




While finding missing persons in Challenge 3.2 is ‘key’, is there an expectation of flight time?


Finding someone as fast as possible is the primary goal. We are not going to ask someone to cover a 200-acre surface area so you don’t need toanticipate a two-to-five-hour flight time. We are limited by the logistics of the contest and search area so expect flight times to be less than one hour. As we near the final stage, we will provide more information on expected flight times.





Challenge 3.3

What is the purpose of including a RTK GPS system, which is normally used to hyper accurately geotag images for later georeferencing in modeling and mapping? Base GPS systems serve navigation and flight needs well.


RTK GPS is required in order accurately maintain and optimize the position of the payload in the air. Data from the RTK GPS logs may also be used for evaluating the drone's flight performance throughout the challenge.




What happens in the event of a tie in Challenge 3.3 Shields Up?


The 3.3 Shields Up! Challenge is uniquely designed to prevent ties from occuring. Please reference the Official Rules under the Judging Panel section in the Terms & Conditions.




I don't understand why we are being asked to write a mission scenario. Isn't it sufficient to simply show how my attack causes the UAS to lose navigation/control?


The mission scenario is meant to establish contestants have a working understanding of public safety requirements and that their proposed disruptions are not trivial. Furthermore, not all attacks against UAS technology necessarily involve causing a flight failure. For example, causing a UAS to deviate from a flight path by a few feet may represent a mission failure in some cases, but not others.




What happens if I discover a vulnerability in a piece of proprietary software that isn't part of my attack?


It is ethical for you to divulge that vulnerability to the manufacturer. Especially if they have an established vulnerability disclosure program.




Why are you focusing on Open Source technology when there are multiple proprietary solutions that have market penetration?


PSCR's main goal is spurring innovation. Weaknesses identified in open source ecosystems may have analogs in proprietary solutions. In addition, having contestants focus on open source software provides them with the most freedom when designing their attacks and countermeasures.




Am I allowed to protect my UAS hardware from damage during the video/live demonstrations. For example, if my attack has the potential to cause a UAS to lose flight capability, can I demonstrate it in a way that doesn't cause it to fall to the ground?


Yes. Rigging or other secured methods of demonstration are allowed.




Are non-domestic drones allowed in the contest?


PSCR prize challenges operate under the America COMPETES Authority. This Authority provides the ability for NIST to run prize challenges for research purposes but not to own or acquire contestant's hardware solutions as a result of the challenge. Therefore, contestants are free to source hardware and software components from any market for use in their demonstrations. However, all contests must demonstrate that their attacks and countermeasures do not target or necessitate those specific components. Furthermore, PSCR reserves the right to disqualify any contestant for any reason it deems violates the spirit of the official rules. Please review the “Challenge Areas”, “Challenge Guidance”, “Disqualifying Solutions” and “Terms & Conditions” for other helpful guidance in the Official Rules.





Prizes

Will there be any tax deduction on the money which will be provided for UAS development and traveler's expanses?


Please refer to the official Challenge rules: All cash prizes awarded to Participants by the Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology are subject to tax liabilities, and no withholding will be assessed on behalf of the Participant claiming a cash prize.




If I am part of the team, how is the prize money distributed?


NIST distributes prize money as a lump sum payment to the official team representative. NIST is not involved in any further distribution of prize money. The official team representative must be age 18 or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States or its territories.




Will I owe taxes if I win Challenge prize money?


Please be aware that all cash prizes awarded to Participants by NIST are subject to tax liabilities, and no withholding will be assessed by NIST on behalf of the Participant claiming a cash prize.




If I win a Stage but am no longer able to compete, do I have to return the funds?


Once distributed, prize money is the property of the winner. However, we strongly encourage teams to continue participating in the Challenge as an opportunity to get mentoring and improve your prototype.




What happens if we are selected, and we cannot make it to the live event?


Unfortunately, the team will forfeit their spot in Stage 3 (i.e., the live demonstration).





Participation/Eligibility

I am in my high school’s drone club. Can I apply?


The challenge is open to to all teams with at least one member that meets the eligibility requirement at the time of entry. Please see the official rules for the individual challenges for complete eligibility requirements. 3.1-Fastfind: UAS-Search Optimized 3.2-Lifelink: UAS Data Relay 3.3- Shields Up! Securing UAS Navigation




Can we publicly talk about our participation?


Absolutely! We encourage you to use this opportunity to publicly share your participation and any stage wins in the First Respinder UAS Triple Challenge. However, when publicizing your participation you may not use NIST’s logo or official seal, and you may not claim NIST endorsement of your technology or organization.




As a follow up for the eligibility, are US Legal Permanent Residents eligible?


Per the Eligibility Requirements in the Official Challenge Rules, " At the time of entry, the Official Representative (individual or team lead, in the case of a group project) must be age 18 or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States or its territories. In the case of a private entity, the business shall be incorporated in and maintain a place of business in the United States or its territories."




Is there a limit to number of participants in a group?


No, but teams should be aware that travel funds have only been allocated for up to four members to attend the live test demonstration.




May teams submit only 1, or more than 1 initial concept for Stage 1?


Teams may only submit one concept. Teams may update their submission in the Contestant Portal up until the deadline, and be evaluated on their final submission.




Are there any limitations on who can compete? For example, does it need to be just students or graduates or is it essentially based on qualifications?


No, the challenge is open to all eligible contestants meeting the criteria outlined in the challenge rules under Eligibility Requirements.




Can foreign teams participate?


Yes, as long as the team has at least one US citizen. Contestants are required to comply with the Eligibility Requirements outlined in the Official Rules.




How are the judges for the competition technically qualified?  Will judges have significant real-world experiences in UAS design, fabrication, certification compliance, and support in commercial service?


Judges are selected by the Director of NIST. The qualified panel of expert(s) will consist of Department of Commerce (DOC), NIST and non-DOC experts based on their UAS, public safety, and other relevant subject matter expert knowledge.




Do I need to submit a notice of intent before I apply?


No, that is not necessary. However, we do encourage you to sign up on the Challenge website (https://uastriplechallenge.com) to receive updates about the Challenge.




Can Contestants submit multiple proposals?


No. Each team or Contestant may submit one proposal.




Can I compete in Stage 2 of the Challenges if I didn’t apply or win Stage 1?


No. However, you can compete in the Walk-on contest at the end of Stage 2




I receive Federal grants or contracts. Can I still apply?


That depends. Federal grantees may not use Federal funds to develop COMPETES Act Challenge applications unless consistent with the purpose of their grant award. Federal contractors may not use Federal funds from a contract to develop COMPETES Act Challenge applications or to fund efforts in support of a COMPETES Act Challenge submission.





All Challenges -- General

Can we add graphics and tables to the documents? If so, do either of these, or their captions, count against word count?


Yes, you may add graphics and tables, and the original content (not captions) will count against word count. You may also upload these as separate, supporting documents.




The cover page and abstract asks for ‘Contestant name (Individual, Team, Organization, Company).’ Is this looking for a single name chosen from the options in parentheses or a listing of all of the above? Or would it be permissible to write some combination such as 'Company Name: Product Name'?


Yes, please identify a single point of contact for your team and your team name.




Will the challenge organizers be releasing the contents of a submission to anyone other than the challenge organizers? Specifically, to other contestants or publicly releasing the data.


All submissions to this prize competition are deemed non-proprietary however, NIST does not intend to share any of the participants' information with other teams or to release that information to the public. Please read the "Warranties" in the Official Challenge Rules.




I just submitted our proposal and noticed an error, can I submit and update?


Yes. Updates to proposals can be submitted until the proposal deadline, only the latest version will be evaluated.




Is it okay if my Stage 2 build differs from my Stage 1 concept?


Contestants were selected based on their concepts. We recommend that each team pursue their Concept solution as entered. Teams can make refinements however, major shifts in the concept approach are strongly discouraged.




Are all the requirements mandatory?


Yes. The UAS Designs Specification requirements specify the minimum accepted capabilities a drone (and the system) must have in order to be an acceptable submission in the contest.




What are acceptable video formats for the Stage 2 submission?


Acceptable video formats are: avi, mpg, mov, and mp4.




Is the live event open to the public as spectators?


Spectators will be limited to NIST staff, judges, Challenge contestant staff and media. All spectators will need to register in advance.




Do I retain intellectual property ownership?


Each entrant retains title and full ownership in and to their submission. Entrants expressly reserve all intellectual property rights not expressly granted under the Challenge agreement. By participating in the Challenge, each entrant hereby irrevocably grants to NIST a limited, non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide license and right to reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, and use the submission to the extent necessary to administer the Challenge, and to publicly perform and publicly display the submission, including, without limitation, for advertising and promotional purposes relating to the Challenge.




Can the technologies proposed by different teams unknown to each other be combined?


NIST PSCR is interested in all solutions from a research perspective and to spur industry innovation for first responders. To that end, PSCR utilizes the Open Innovation strategies to launch challenges in UAS and other technology areas, which we hope will become a catalyst for that innovation. Every year, we present the findings of our research portfolios at the annual PSCR conference with the intention of informing academia, industry and government organizations about what we’ve learned and look to create discussion for improving wireless communications for first responders. We anticipate that technologies presented in the UAS challenge series will be pursued, whether it be to combine technologies in one challenge or all three challenges, by PSCR or other entities. We appreciate this question and invite the author of the team's technology to pursue direct discussions with NIST PSCR after the final stage of the challenge or anytime, if the author is not be a competitor. Contact can be made at psprizes@nist.gov.





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