International Aerial Robotics Competition

A Drone that can herd Roombas - cause why not?


The IARC is an annual competition requiring teams to develop aerial robots that solve problems on the cutting edge of what is currently achievable by any aerial robots, whether owned by industry or governments. Mission 7 involved developing an autonomous drone capable of interacting with randomly moving robots on the ground to direct them towards a goal. Additionally, the drone needed to navigate in an indoor environment without GPS or SLAM, meaning that purely optical methods had to be used.

RAS Pitt competed in Mission 7 of the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC) in 2017 and 2018. The project was active from June of 2016 through August of 2018. The team developed multiple fully autonomous air vehicles that were entirely custom-built. This involved developing complex mechanical, electrical, and software systems in order to achieve the competition goals. In some aspects, the results surpassed what could be found commercially.

The following autonomous behaviors were demonstrated on the RAS drone in 2018:

  • Autonomous flight
  • Localizing and remaining within the arena
  • Avoidance of moving obstacles
  • Blocking and landing on moving targets

Team Members

All members were undergrads at Pitt except for a few graduate students and some RAS alumni who came back to work on things that helped hone their professional skills. This includes but is not limited to:

Aaron Miller, Adriena Cribb, Andrew Harman, Andrew Lobos, Andrew Saba, Ankit Joshi, Brandon Contino, Caroline Collopy, Conner Babinchak, Dan Gilmour, Elliot Miller, Evan Becker, Garret Sultzbach, Harrison Green, Jack Bartley, Jackie Sharp, Jay Maier, John Mas, Jeff Deely, Kaylene Stocking, Levi Burner, Liam Berti, Liam Rethore, Matt Belding, Matt Bilker, Nathan Todd, Patrick Snyder, Quentin Torgerson, Quinnan Gill, Ritesh Misra, Sridhar Reddy Velagala, Zach Egolf, and Zac Yu

Papers, Posters, and Presentations

And More!

Please visit our project archives for photos and a extremely deep technical dive into the engineering behind the IARC drones. It can be found in the "Posts" section!