Flint Hill School Outperforms Harvard, Cornell at International Collegiate Drone Competition

The Flint Hill School Team

The Flint Hill School Team

Flint Hill’s aerial robotics team won second place overall and best overall high school during the 2018 drone competition sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), which took place June 13-17. The competition is held annually at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station (NAS) and requires the teams to design, develop, build and demonstrate autonomous flight and achievement of specified mission tasks.

Sixty-six national and international teams registered for the competition this year, and 51 teams made it to the flight demonstration portion, including teams from Harvard, Stanford, Cornell and the United States Naval Academy. University de Sherbrooke took the top spot for the third year in a row making Flint Hill the best U.S. school at the competition.

Based on the score from their technical journal and their flight readiness video, the Flint Hill team was allowed to select their flight order early in the process. Vale Tolpegin, the team’s captain boldly selected to fly first. The team quickly passed their safety inspection and went to the flight line. After a setup period and preflight briefing, the UAV took to the air autonomously flying just over three miles in 16 minutes. According to the team’s faculty advisor, Michael Snyder, M.Ed., “The team conducted a flawless mission accomplishing all of their goals for this year including autonomous flight, obstacle avoidance, object detection/classification/localization and air delivery.”

FHS Drone in the Pit

FHS Drone in the Pit

The Flint Hill team members worked all year preparing for this competition. The 2018 UAV was custom-designed and built and programmed by the students to support the mission tasks outlined in the competition. Thirteen students on the team developed the highly customized octocopter to ensure maximum safety and a dynamic user interface to provide flight data to the AUVSI judges throughout the mission. The 13-person team is comprised of students from throughout the Northern Virginia area.

Flint Hill’s award-winning Robotics program is part of a broader Innovation Department designed to teach students from preschool to 12th grade to think like innovators and to future-proof their readiness for college and the workforce.