Prague university team to fight in drone contest in Abu Dhabi


A team from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the Czech Technical University (CVUT) in Prague has presented autonomous helicopters, with which the researchers would like to repeat their success at an international drone competition in Abu Dhabi, they have told reporters.

The Czech team will fly to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday. The scientists will have five weeks to complete the drone development in the UAE before the Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge (MBZIRC) international robotics competition that will be held in Abu Dhabi on February 23-25.

Three years ago, the CVUT team won a complete series of medals at the contest. It was the best in collecting items with the aid of a group of autonomous helicopters and finished second in the autonomous landing category and third in the Grand Challenge competition, along with the Padova University.

This year, the team has advanced to the contest final in the UAE on a continuous first place out of the 200 registered teams. It will compete with its drones in three disciplines.

"We want to defend our victory from the previous contest," team member Vojtech Spurny said at the Wednesday presentation.

The competition is quite strong this year with some five to six teams being at the top, team leader Martin Saska said. "So if were worse than the sixth position, I might be dissatisfied," he added.

Some 30 teams from the whole world will take part in the contest final in Abu Dhabi this year. The organisers have financially supported the 15 best ones.

The Czech team has received some 300,000 US dollars that it will mainly spend on travel costs and equipment, Saska said. The work is usually covered from various projects and research, he added.

At present, the team is comprised of 25 people. Along with the CVUT researchers, it also includes representatives of the U.S. universities of Pennsylvania and New York.

The MBZIRC took place for the first time three years ago, so it will be the second event this year. The organisers do not want to hold it every year, but in the future, it will be every other year, Spurny said.