Vertical Flight Society Announces Winners of First Design-Build-Vertical-Flight Student Competition


The Vertical Flight Society announces today the winners of its inaugural Design-Build-Vertical-Flight (DBVF) competition. The University of Michigan took first place with a prize of $ 2,000. The University of Maryland team took second place and Ohio State University took third place; teams will receive cash prizes of $ 1,000 and $ 500, respectively.

The DBVF Electric Remote-Controlled Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) competition aims to encourage interest in unmanned aircraft technology and the design and manufacture of small aerial vehicles. The competition is designed to develop practical skills and familiarization with eVTOL and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) technology at the university student level, helping to prepare the next generation of engineers and leaders to push the boundaries of this exciting technology. in the future.

Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced the fly-off portion of the competition to be canceled, each team submitted a final technical report and made a virtual presentation of their design and findings to a jury. April 15 and 16.

A total of seven academic teams submitted applications for this year’s competition. The 2020-2021 Request for Proposals (RFP) challenged teams to build a general aircraft, with requirements limited to the Group 1 Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), which limited the Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) to not more than 20 lbs (9.1 kilograms). The call for tenders and other information are available at

The winning teams are:

1st: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States, Michigan Vertical Flight Technology
2nd: University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, United States, micro-aerial autonomous vehicle
3rd: Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, United States, Buckeye Vertical

The other teams received the following honorable mentions from the judges:

Best Drawing Package: McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Aero McGill
The most creative: Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, United States, Beaverhawks 3.0
Best Computer Simulation: Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, United States. Autonomous robotics club
Most manufacturable: Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology. Flushing, New York, United States, Vaughn UAV

A total of $ 5,500 was awarded by VFS during the competition. In addition to the $ 3,500 in final rewards, $ 2,000 had already been awarded. In December 2020, each of the seven teams submitted a preliminary design report. The results of the judgment at the time were as follows:

1st place: University of Michigan ($ 750)
2nd place (tie): Oregon State University ($ 500) and Ohio State University ($ 500)
3rd place: University of Maryland ($ 250)

“All of the student teams did a really impressive job,” said VFS Executive Director Mike Hirschberg. “Not only did they come up with exciting aircraft designs that had to meet the demanding demands of the competition, but they also had to deal with all the restrictions and uncertainties caused by COVID-19. They are now better prepared to design real rotorcraft and eVTOL aircraft. “

VFS intended to hold the competition during the same period on the Robotics Research Collaborative Campus of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) of the U.S. Army Combat Capability Development Command ( DEVCOM) near Aberdeen, Maryland. ARL signed a five-year educational partnership agreement with VFS earlier this year to host the event and collaborate on vertical flight education awareness initiatives. Over the past year, the ARL has done important work in preparing for the flight competition, including extensive planning for flight tests in April under COVID-19 restrictions. The Society is grateful for the support of the United States Army for this important educational initiative.

The Vertical Flight Society encourages universities around the world to form teams and participate in this exciting and challenging competition next year. Preparations are already underway, with the flight test portion of the competition scheduled for the ARL R2C2 site next spring. Details will be announced this summer.

The Vertical Flight Society is the world’s premier technical vertical flight society. Since its founding as the American Helicopter Society in 1943, the Society has been a major force in the advancement of vertical flight. VFS is the global information resource for vertical flight technology. For more than 75 years, he has provided global leadership in scientific, technical, educational and legislative initiatives that advance the state of the art of vertical flight.

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