The history of Droniada: a competition for academic teams and a testing ground for unmanned systems

The history of Droniada: a competition for academic teams and a testing ground for unmanned systems

Droniada’s mission is to educate the public on and promote the use of unmanned and autonomous aerial systems in urban areas in accordance with U-space rules. Droniada stimulates the development of technological and managerial competencies in the academic, business and public sector communities.

In the autumn of 2013, I devised the concept of the Robot Parade: an event for ground robots, underwater robots and aerial robots (i.e. drones). At the same time, the National Security Bureau came up with the idea of Droniada as an event intended specifically to showcase the capabilities of drones in various military and civilian applications. For several years, we tried to combine the two names. “We are going to Droniada!” is what we heard from students, researchers, military and emergency response personnel and business owners whenever we invited them to take part in… the Robot Parade. In the end, we listened to the voice of the people. And thus, Droniada won.

So, what is it all about? Droniada is a competition in which academic teams conduct search-and-rescue missions and critical infrastructure inspection operations with the use of drones and information analysis systems. Generally speaking, it is a testing ground for unmanned systems and a meeting place for students, young engineers, researchers, designers and entrepreneurs on the one part, and fire service and military personnel, secret/not-so-secret services and local/central government officials on the other. What all these people have in common is a shared belief in the capabilities of new information and communication technologies – as embodied by drones.

There are a dozen or so important academic competitions in the broadly-defined field of robotics around the world, and Droniada has already become an integral part of the Polish academic event calendar. Now, our goal is to transform it into an event of at least European significance where businesses will be able to test the skills of young engineering professionals and attract new talent, and where government and emergency response agencies and critical infrastructure operators will be able to find inspiration on how to use flying robots – especially within the urban space. In short: come, touch, believe!

Sławomir Kosieliński, CEO of Fundacja “Instytut Mikromakro”, kosiel@mikromakro.pl, www.droniada.eu 

Table of contents

  • Droniada 2014 (Droniada Robot Parade): drone and robot demonstrations at the Polish Aviation Museum and in the Main Market Square in Kraków
  • Droniada 2015 (Robot Parade): robot/drone demonstrations, competition and workshops at the Polish Aviation Museum in Kraków
  • Droniada 2016 (Robot Parade) at the Kraków Aeroclub in Pobiednik Wielki, including a Volunteer Fire Service and State Fire Service Special Emergency Response Group exercise
  • Polish Racing Car Championship – drone, robot and Formula Student racing car demonstrations
  • Droniada 2017, Kraków Aeroclub in Pobiednik Wielki, including a search for the body of missing Zdzisław K. conducted using drones and rescue dogs in the Dobczyce area
  • Droniada 2018 competition at the Kraków Aeroclub in Pobiednik Wielki: the Polish U-space prologue and UAS testing ground

FIVE YEARS OF DRONIADA IN NUMBERS

  • 6,300 minutes of drone flights and robot/autonomous vehicle parades
  • 5,000 spectators and participants at the five editions of Droniada (2014 to 2018)
  • 1,200 minutes of ground robot and car demonstrations, simulator-based drone flight instruction and interactive robot games
  • 350 drones, robots and cars
  • 45 companies from the information technology, robotics and aviation sectors
  • 20 students’ research clubs representing most Polish technical universities and other universities involved with ICT, robotics and aviation
  • 18 State Fire Service and Volunteer Fire Service units and Special Emergency Service Groups
  • 15 rescue dogs trained to work with drones
  • 8 innovative technologies and concepts tested during Droniada:
  • Drones in search and rescue operations (2016 to 2018)
  • BLE beacons as triage tags to be found automatically by drones (2017)
  • Dynamic mapping of the emergency operation area by combining drone and satellite technologies (2017)
  • Drone-to-drone collision avoidance systems (2018)
  • ADS-B transponders as a basis for missions in U-space
  • IoT-based automatic landing systems (2018)
  • UTM and DTM system (2018)
  • Automatic QR code reading system for medium-voltage grid surveillance (2018)
  • 5 military units demonstrating their drones and robots
  • 3 bomb disposal patrols using robots
  • 1 “Bathtub Flyer” with characters from Papcio Chmiel’s comic strips (Tytus de Zoo, Romek and Atomek) on board in its maiden flight

Droniada 2014 (Droniada Robot Parade): drone and robot demonstrations at the Polish Aviation Museum and in the Main Market Square in Kraków 

2014 Droniada

In recognition of the robotics skills demonstrated during the competition, the two most innovative teams of young UAS designers received awards from Minister Stanisław Koziej, Head of the National Security Bureau at the time. The first award went to members of the JEDI Students’ Research Club (Koło Naukowe JEDI) from the Wrocław University of Science and Technology for designing a quadrotor helicopter with automatic takeoff/landing functionality and advanced image processing algorithms (including object recognition) implemented. The second award went to members of the MelAvio Students’ Avionics Research Club (Koło Naukowe Awioniki MelAvio) from the Warsaw University of Technology for designing a 25-kilogram unmanned rescue and surveillance plane with a wingspan of 3.5 meters, capable of autonomous over-the-horizon operation.

The Head of the National Security Bureau also recognized teams which had demonstrated their ground unmanned systems. The first award went to the SKaNeR Students’ Robotics Research Club (Studenckie Koło Naukowe Robotyki SKaNer) from the Lodz University of Technology for designing an inspection and reconnaissance unmanned vehicle equipped with – among other things – an IP camera, a Wi-Fi router and a 2DOF gripper. The robot can be remotely controlled from a computer or mobile phone and can send a video feed to FPV goggles or a mobile phone. The second award went to the Institute of Mathematical Machines for designing an unmanned vehicle that uses a mobile mapping system (which delivers 3D metric maps of the surrounding area) and can be used for a variety of missions, including SAR. SAP Poland also rewarded the students from Łódź with a special workshop and an invitation to a conference in Berlin. WB Electronics offered a paid internship at its manufacturing plant in Ożarów Mazowiecki to the Robotics Engineers’ Research Club (Koło Naukowe Robotyków) team from the Bialystok University of Technology; the team from Białystok also received souvenirs from the City of Kraków.

It is also worth mentioning that the Students’ Robotics Research Club (Koło Naukowe Robotyki) and the High Flyers Interfaculty Students’ Research Club (Międzywydziałowe Koło Naukowe High Flyers) from the Silesian University of Technology conducted a joint experiment which involved delivering a package to an InPost parcel machine in the Main Market Square in Kraków by using a hexacopter and a Mars rover.

Droniada 2015 (Robot Parade): robot/drone demonstrations, competition and workshops at the Polish Aviation Museum in Kraków 

Wspomnienia z Droniady 2015

Eight academic teams competed for the Award of the Head of the National Security Bureau, presenting some of the most interesting ideas to meet the information needs of key organizations by using drones, robots and personal data fusion systems. The competitors were: AERO Team ILK AGH – AGH University of Science and Technology; JEDI – Wrocław University of Science and Technology; Students’ Robotics Research Club (Koło Naukowe Robotyki) – Bialystok University of Technology; Robotics Engineers’ Research Club (Koło Naukowe Robotyków) – Warsaw University of Technology; SKaNeR Students’ Robotics Research Club (Studenckie Koło Naukowe Robotyki SKaNer) – Lodz University of Technology; Robotics Club (Koło Robotyki) – SGGW Warsaw University of Life Sciences; High Flyers Interfaculty Students’ Research Club (Międzywydziałowe Koło Naukowe High Flyers) – Silesian University of Technology; and SKALP Automation Engineers’ Research Club (Studenckie Koło Automatyków SKALP) – Gdańsk University of Technology.

In the theoretical part, each team could receive a maximum of 7 points from the Competition Committee electors. In the practical part, that is an aerial demonstration on the apron of the former Rakowice-Czyżyny Aerodrome, the teams competed for an additional 3 points.

After two days, the Award of the Head of the National Security Bureau went to the following teams:

  1. AERO Team ILK AGH – AGH University of Science and Technology (the MIner project); and
  2. Robotics Engineers’ Research Club – Warsaw University of Technology (modular platform).

A Special Prize from Parrot – a three-month internship at the company’s headquarters in Paris – was awarded to the team that ranked third in the Parade (and was the best one in the dynamic demonstration), i.e. the JEDI Students’ Research Club from the Wrocław University of Science and Technology, for designing a watercopter and demonstrating the ability to build a digital terrain model quickly.

Finally, the fourth place went to the SkaNeR Students’ Robotics Research Club from the Lodz University of Technology. According to the judges, this team made the greatest use of experience sharing with their inspirator – PKP Cargo – in their concept.

Droniada 2016 (Robot Parade) at the Kraków Aeroclub in Pobiednik Wielki, including a Volunteer Fire Service and State Fire Service Special Emergency Response Group exercise

Droniada 2016

The Droniada 2016 competition for university teams – organized by Fundacja “Instytut Mikromakro” – took place at the Kraków Aeroclub in Pobiednik Wielki on June 18, 2016. The participating teams were tasked with locating a lost jumper, grandmother or grandson. Few succeeded.

The WSOSP-ALS team representing the Polish Air Force Academy in Dęblin achieved the highest score (86 out of 100 points) and took the first place in the Droniada 2016 competition. The Competition Committee also decided to reward the WSOSP-ALS team with the Honorary Award of the Head of the National Security Bureau and a cash prize of PLN 10,000 funded by the Mayor of Kraków.

AERO TEAM ILK AGH from the AGH University of Science and Technology came in second at Droniada 2016 with 78 points, and the third place went to the Avionics Engineers’ Research Club (Koło Naukowe Awioników) from the Polish Air Force Academy in Dęblin (47 points). Each of the above teams received an Honorary Award of the Head of the National Security Bureau.

The MelAvio Students’ Avionics Research Club (Koło Naukowe Awioniki MelAvio) from the Warsaw University of Technology won a Special Prize from the Scientific and Research Centre for Fire Protection (Centrum Naukowo-Badawczego Ochrony Przeciwpożarowej) in Józefów and its Drone Centre: a one-month training course on the use of drones in emergency management. A Special Prize from ESRI Poland – a training course in drone-based remote sensing – went to the SKaNeR Students’ Robotics Research Club (Studenckie Koło Naukowe Robotyki SKaNer). And, last but not least, the third Special Prize funded by Kapsch Poland – a UAVO training course including a state examination – was awarded to the Academic Aviation Club (Akademicki Klub Lotniczy) from the Wrocław University of Science and Technology. The remaining teams received souvenirs from the President of the Civil Aviation Authority.

Polish Racing Car Championship – drone, robot and Formula Student racing car demonstrations

Mistrzostwa Polski Bolidów - pokazy bolidów Formuły Student

Droniada concluded on Sunday, June 19, 2016 with the Polish Racing Car Championship – an event involving drone, robot and racing car demonstrations held on the Wisła Football Stadium grounds. To organize it, we enlisted the help of AGH Racing: a team of ambitious motoring enthusiasts from the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, full of positive energy, who had already competed in international Formula Student events for three seasons. Working together, we prepared an event which was to serve as a “dress rehearsal” and a ticket for Poland to organize international competitions in this class. In addition, we had the opportunity to see the first Polish self-driving vehicles (robotic cars), drones and other robots.

It is important to note that Formula Student racing cars – very similar to the vehicles we admire during Formula 1 races – are the showpieces of the world’s leading technical universities: ultra-fast supercomputers designed by the best of the best future engineers. Poland also has several excellent teams who have built their machines from the ground up and are able to compete with worldwide leaders. The 1st Polish Racing Car Championship provided an opportunity to meet the following teams: AGH Racing Team, PGRacing Team, PolSI Racing Team, PRz Racing Team, PUT Motorsport, PWR Racing Team, and Silesia Automotive.

During the event, we were able to put the spotlight on some of the incredibly talented and innovative people who study at Poland’s technical universities: enthusiasts, dreamers and engineers of tomorrow!

Droniada 2017, Kraków Aeroclub in Pobiednik Wielki, including a search for the body of missing Zdzisław K. conducted using drones and rescue dogs in the Dobczyce area

Droniada 2017 w Aeroklubie Krakowskim i akcja poszukiwawcza

In 2017, the competition was held at the Kraków Aeroclub and tested different ways of using drones, beacons and the IoT infrastructure in rescue missions. The drone teams participating in the Droniada Robot Parade 2017 at the Kraków Aeroclub were given the following task:

A hurricane gusting up to 200 km/h suddenly passed across the Małopolska (Lesser Poland) region,sweeping away homesteads within a radius of 900 meters from the LAKSTART waypoint. Paramedics have triaged and tagged 10 victims using beacons, which are devices that broadcast an omnidirectional radio signal using Bluetooth 4.0 technology within a radius of approx. 65 meters. The following beacons have been used: RED – immediate evacuation required; YELLOW – urgent evacuation; GREEN – walking wounded (remote oversight); and BLACK – deceased (body to be collected after life-saving activities cease).

The emergency responders have found the victims in different configurations: some clustered together, others in remote locations. The wounded expect to be evacuated shortly.

Drone teams have gone into action to prepare a medical evacuation plan and support the evacuation.

The winner of the Droniada competition was the High Flyers Interfaculty Students’ Research Club (Międzywydziałowe Koło Naukowe High Flyers). The team won the Grand Prize of PLN 10,000 funded by Fundacja “Instytut Mikromakro” in partnership with the City of Kraków and an Honorary Award of the Head of the National Security Bureau. In addition, it received a Special Prize (racing drone) from Spartaqs and was invited by ESRI Poland to attend an image editing workshop. What is more, Roborotor financed the team’s participation in the National Military Exhibition (drone zone).

The second place went to the AGH’s Squadron team led by Łukasz Motyl. The team also received an Honorary Award from the Head of the National Security Bureau and Special Prizes from Roborotor and Spartaqs.

Coming in third was the MelAvio Students’ Avionics Research Club (Koło Naukowe Awioniki MelAvio) team, which took home an Honorary Award from the Head of the National Security Bureau and Special Prizes from Roborotor and Spartaqs.

Droniada Robot Parade 2017 took place under the honorary patronage of the Mayor of Kraków Jacek Majchrowski, Head of the National Security Bureau Paweł Soloch, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration Jarosław Zieliński, and the Ministry of Development. In the end, eight teams from six leading Polish technical universities entered the competition.

The competition was supported by the City of Kraków, thanks to whose help Fundacja “Instytut Mikromakro” was able to fund the Grand Prize of PLN 10,000, and by Kontakt.io, Flytech UAV, the Fire Service College of the State Fire Service (Szkoła Aspirantów PSP) in Kraków, the Institute for Market, Consumption and Business Cycles Research (Instytut Badań Rynku, Konsumpcji i Koniunktur), the Scientific and Research Centre for Fire Protection – National Research Institute (Centrum Naukowo-Badawcze Ochrony Przeciwpożarowej – Państwowy Instytut Badawczy), and the Crisis Information Centre (Centrum Informacji Kryzysowej). The entire event was organized in partnership with Microsoft Imagine Cup, the world’s largest technology competition for startups.

After the competition, Droniada participants were able to use their skills in a real-world scenario as part of the search for the body of Zdzisław K., who went missing in the early 2017.Drones operated by selected teams scanned the terrain and prepared an orthophotomap of the search area, while the remaining teams joined the special emergency response teams with rescue dogs and combed the area in groups of three. Unfortunately, the drones were of no avail. The body was eventually found one month later by a mushroom picker, 5 kilometers north of the search area.

Droniada 2018 competition at the Kraków Aeroclub in Pobiednik Wielki: the Polish U-space prologue and UAS testing ground

2018 Droniada

Eight academic teams took part in the competition, representing the Warsaw University of Technology (two teams), the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, the Bialystok University of Technology, the Rzeszow University of Technology, the University of Information Technology and Management in Rzeszow, the Wrocław University of Science and Technology and the Lodz University of Technology.

Their missions were as follows:

  • Following a major thunderstorm, rivers and streams in the Vistula river basin have swelled and caused what can be described as the flood of the century. Firefighters have been able to reach most farmsteads by boat, but four still remain unreachable as the access is blocked by fallen trees, branches and strong currents. The families living there need an urgent delivery of medical supplies, so the decision has been made to use drones. The teams are tasked with delivering the medical supplies.
  • A hurricane has blown down an unidentified number of medium-voltage (15 kV to 20 kV) poles with known geographic coordinates (registered in the resource management system) along two sections of the Red & Black line. Each section is 300 meters long. According to the resource management system, the poles should be placed at least 30 meters apart, which means that there should be ten poles along the Red section and ten poles along the Black section. The poles cannot be reached at the moment. Therefore, drones will be used to assess the damage, that is to identify the number of poles blown down by the wind and the direction in which they fell.

For the first time in the world (and there is no exaggeration here whatsoever), the teams executed their missions simultaneously. Nobody had previously taken the risk to allow competing teams’ drones to fly within the same airspace. However, thanks to our collaboration with the business community, the teams received the necessary hardware and – acting under our supervision – developed the appropriate collision avoidance and automatic landing systems. The competition also served as the Polish prologue for U-space, a European Union initiative which – starting from 2019 – opens the urban skies for drones executing automated missions and enables local government units to take part in managing the 3D space.

Droniada’s Grand Prize of PLN 10,000 went to the Raptors team from the Lodz University of Technology. The team also won the Special Prizes funded by Fundacja “Instytut Mikromakro”, the main organizer of this UAS testing ground: PLN 4,000 for winning each of the “Urgent Delivery of Medical Supplies in U-space” and “Power Grid Monitoring After a Natural Disaster – QR Codes” events.

The Second Prize of PLN 5,000 went to the WUThrust team from the Warsaw University of Technology, and the Third Prize of PLN 2,000 went to the Robotics Engineers’ Research Club (Koło Naukowe Robotyków) team from the Bialystok University of Technology.

In addition, the Rzeszow University of Technology was recognized by the President of the Civil Aviation Authority for their ability to stay calm and prevent an emergency during a drone mission. The same team also received an award from ESRI Poland and the Drone Belt from Fundacja “Instytut Mikromakro”. The leaders of the four teams also received vouchers for third-party liability insurance from Finansowa Chata.

1st place: Raptors, Lodz University of Technology

2nd place: WUThrust, Warsaw University of Technology

3rd place: Robotics Engineers’ Research Club, Bialystok University of Technology

4th place (joint): Euroavionic Team, Rzeszow University of Technology, and MelAvio Students’ Avionics Research Club

5th place: Dronpix Globallogic

6th place: Academic Aviation Club, Wrocław University of Science and Technology

7th place: Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw

The honorary patrons were Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Mayor of Kraków Jacek Majchrowski and President of the Civil Aviation Authority Piotr Samson. Droniada partners were the National Centre for Research and Development and the Polish Development Fund under the “Żwirko i Wigura” program. The main organizer was Fundacja “Instytut Mikromakro”, and the co-organizer of the Droniada seminars was the Institute for Market, Consumption and Business Cycles Research – National Research Institute. The strategic partner of Fundacja “Instytut Mikromakro” is Spartaqs sp. z o.o., the patron is SalesManago, the air safety partner is the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency, and partners are Globallogic and JSW Innowacje. Other collaborators are Oracle, ESRI and Finansowa Chata.

We would like to thank everyone for participating and helping us create an unforgettable robotics testing ground experience. The time has come for Droniada 2019, which will take place at the Silesian Aeroclub in Katowice (Muchowiec Aerodrome) on June 6-9, 2019. For more information, visit : www.5zywiolow.pl/en/start/

artnerzy Droniady 2018