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Inches from victory, UAV team fails to snag prize

By: TJ Jerke, Grand Forks Herald

Last year, when Daniel Ellis’ team of university students tried to send their miniature unmanned aircraft through a simulated military bunker, they had communication problems and he said the machine never made it through the window.

At the same competition held at UND Thursday, the University of Michigan aircraft flew into the four-room bunker undetected and found a small flash drive it was programmed to retrieve.

Then the retrieval magnet got caught on a chair.

Ellis, 24, called the performance a “huge leap” for his team of 40 aeronautics and engineering students. “To navigate and come out with one piece was a very successful mission.”

It’s a mission so challenging that none of the 10 teams that competed Thursday succeeded, though the Michigan team was among those that came closest. In fact, no team has completed the challenge since it was issued by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International two years ago.

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