Student group «Ascend NTNU» is going for the ultimate challenge within aerial robotics: The International Aerial Robotics Competition in Atlanta, USA.

  • Ove Ronny Haraldsen
    Group Communication Manager

As the first ever Nordic team to compete in the International Aerial Robotics Competition, Ascend NTNU has high ambitions. The student organization looks forward to showing off and competing in a «World Championship» of aerial robotics.

“We are all extremely excited to participate in the competition. This is the first time Ascend NTNU is competing, and it is the first time a team from the Nordics are taking part in the competition. We are looking forward to meeting the other teams and we are of course very excited to show off the results of the hard work we have put in throughout the year”, says Marius Maaland, project manager and team leader of this year’s team.

“It will also be very interesting to compare our solutions to the other competitors from around the world and to gain knowledge that we can use to advance our drone even further”, Maaland adds.

Marius Maaland, project manager and team leader of this year’s team.

COMPETITION PURPOSE: Create meaningful and impossible missions
The competition has been conducted annually and the purpose of the International Aerial Robotics Competition is to «move the state-of-the-art in aerial robotics forward» through the creation of significant and useful mission challenges that are ‘impossible’ at the time they are proposed.

When the aerial robotic behaviors called for in the mission are eventually demonstrated, the technology will have been advanced for the benefit of the world. The competition is the longest running collegiate aerial robotics challenge in the world. Entering its third decade of advancing the state of the art in autonomous aerial robotic behavior, the competition continues to tackle challenges that are currently impossible for any flying robots owned by government or industry.

This year’s competition takes place the first week of August, and the team has put in numerous hours throughout the summer. In the final build up to the competition the team has been in Kongsberg for the entire summer, focusing intensely on the challenge ahead of them.

“The summer has been hectic, but exciting. Even though we have been working on the project for almost a year in Trondheim, the summer internship in Kongsberg has allowed us to work more intensively, with full workdays and no lectures or exams to worry about. This has been crucial in the final weeks before the competition”, says Maaland.

KONGSBERG are main sponsors of Ascend NTNU providing access to expert professionals, facilities and providing funding.

“For us it is important to motivate and inspire the students to study scientific subjects and complete their education as best as possible. By supporting student organizations like Ascend NTNU we contribute to the technologists of tomorrow explore new technology. Students possess the latest knowledge, view challenges from new angles and are highly committed. We can also learn a lot from this”, says Harald Ånnestad, President of Kongsberg Defence Systems.

Demonstration for Harald Ånnestad, President of Kongsberg Defence Systems.

Ånnestad is inspired and impressed by the work Ascend NTNU has done so far, and has no doubts that the challenges the team is working on are highly relevant for an advanced technology company like KONGSBERG.

“We quickly realised that we wanted to be part of this project. It deals with autonomous technologies, decision support, cybernetics, system engineering and a number of other disciplines that will be important in the years to come. We look forward to contribute and believe the Norwegian team will do well in the competition”, says Ånnestad.

Maaland and the team are very happy that KONGSBERG are partnering the project with several contributions.

“Partners like KONGSBERG are a crucial part of the success of projects like Ascend NTNU. In addition to providing funds needed to acquire the necessary technological equipment, KONGSBERG employs a range of skilled individuals who have been helpful when we have been stuck on certain issues”, says Maaland.

“Additionally, the fact that Kongsberg offered internships to each member of the team, and allowed us to work in their brand new Innovation Lab this summer has been of great help in our work on the mission”, Maaland concludes.