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RIT Meets The Jetsons: Flying Car Contest

Prior to the start of RIT’s annual Imagine RIT festival on Saturday, May 2, 2015, there will be a special competition held in the new ice rink on campus, The Gene Polisseni Center, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. The opening ceremony for the festival will immediately follow the competition.

Dr. Destler’s challenge is two-fold: First, teams will remotely pilot their “flying cars” (UAS’s) along a pre-defined course with the purpose of capturing images of static objects. Second, teams will program their flying cars to perform an autonomous task.

The winning team will choose between $1,000 and one of Dr. Destler’s antique banjos.

All RIT students, faculty and staff are welcome to enter the contest. In the case of an all-student team, please be prepared to list a faculty or staff mentor on your registration form.

Participants may enter the competition for free. Email to receive a registration form. We will accept a maximum of ten (10) teams on a first come, first served basis. The final deadline to participate is March 2, 2015.

Once registered, each team will be given one (1) Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Elite Edition Quadricopter.


Vehicle Criteria:

  • The Parrot Kit shown above is the only UAS kit that may be used for the challenge.
  • Teams may decide to use a battery other than what is provided with the kit, however.
  • Teams must use the indoor hull included with the Parrot Kit.
  • Teams are responsible for purchasing any other equipment or spare parts they may need for the competition.
  • Vehicles must have a redundant system of kill switches/attitude fail safe systems
  • Any light or laser emitting devices must be eye safe for spectators without the need for eye protection.
  • Craft dimensions cannot exceed 2.5’ x 2.5’ x 2.5’.
  • No volatile fuels are permitted.
  • In the spirit of the competition’s theme, we will assign each team a character from “The Jetsons.” Your team should create and affix a small likeness of their character somewhere on their “flying car.”

Competition Rules:

  • We will make every attempt to provide practice time in the Gene Polisseni Center at least two days before the event. This information will become available as we get closer to May 2, 2015.
  • At least one member of each team is required to be present at a pre-competition meeting (date and time TBA) to review the vehicle criteria, competition rules and course diagram.
  • On the day of the event, teams should arrive to check-in no later than 8:00 a.m. with the competition starting promptly at 8:30 a.m.
  • Depending on the total number of teams, we may decide on a cascading start so that multiple teams will be operating their vehicles at the same time – although we will allow no more than three vehicles to be in flight at the same time..
  • For the remotely piloted portion of the challenge, there can only be one operator at a time. It is up to the team to decide which app and device they want to use. The operator must stand within the designated area (TBA) on/near the course.
  • The craft must complete the remotely piloted challenge, and one autonomous task in under 10 minutes.
  • Vehicles must not fly above the Plexiglas boards surrounding the hockey rink (approximately 10’ high).
  • Vehicles must not fly outside of the designated area.
  • Vehicles must start in the designated area (TBA); however, vehicles may land wherever it is appropriate within the confines of the course once the challenge has been completed.
  • Four (4) life-sized, stand up “pedestrians” (RIT administrators/faculty) will be placed in a semi-circle around the course, which will appear as a futuristic street scene/cityscape. Each stand up will be labeled with the person’s name in Times New Roman font, 72 pt.
  • Vehicles must photograph each “pedestrian”. In order to achieve points for each photograph, the nametag must be visible and in focus.
  • After the registration deadline (March 2nd) participants will be informed about, in terms of x-y distances, the locations of stand ups. Any other static obstacles (city buildings, for example), if present, will be unknown.
  • Once the remotely piloted part of the challenge is completed, each team is asked to perform an autonomous maneuver somewhere within the confines of the course. This could involve flying through hoops or a tunnel, as an example. The autonomous task will be judged subjectively on both technical difficulty and originality.
    • Please note: No navigation information or GPS will be available for the autonomous task.
  • The team with the most points will be deemed the winner of the competition. Fastest time will be the deciding factor in the case of a tie.


  • Photos of four (4) “pedestrian” targets = 100 points each (max. value 400 points)
  • Autonomous Task = up to 200 points for technical difficulty and up to 200 points for originality
  • If a static object is hit = -50 points
  • Each team’s run time will be recorded for the final score in the case of a tie.

Course Diagram:
Below is a visible layout of the Gene Polisseni Center and area that defines the course. Course details will not be available until the final registration deadline of March 2, 2015.