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Advanced Aircraft Company (AAC), a developer of long-endurance hybrid-electric unmanned aircraft systems designed for a wide range of commercial, defense and public safety applications, has been named one of seven finalists in the NIST First Responder UAS Endurance Challenge, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Team AAC from Advanced Aircraft Company placed first in the competition, taking home a cash prize of $100,000. Additionally, the company won three Best-in-Class awards for Endurance, Innovation and First Responders Choice, totaling its winnings at $135,000.
“The AAC team is thrilled to have participated in the First Responder UAS Endurance Challenge,” said Bill Fredericks, founder and CEO of Advanced Aircraft Company. “Taking first place and winning three best in class awards affirms our high-performance and long-endurance systems suitability for first responder operations.”
In the 4-stage challenge, participants designed, built and flew an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to fly for the longest time possible while carrying a 10-pound payload. This challenge evaluated design trade-offs of UAS capabilities, such as vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), payload capacity and energy source, with the goal of optimizing and improving flight time. This research area is important for emergency responders in order to accomplish their mission more efficiently and effectively to maximize the flight time for a known payload. Contestants were encouraged to collaborate with their local first responder community and other experts in public safety to ensure the relevancy and applicability of their proposed UAS solution.
“Our grant programs and prize challenges help us make great leaps forward in solving public safety concerns by initiating collaboration with industry, academia and the public safety community,” said Dereck Orr, chief of NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) division, which managed the challenge. “The challenge has helped advance our mission and UAS technology with the winning team surpassing 112 minutes of flight time for FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Part 107 drone flights, which are systems weighing less than 55 pounds flown by certified drone pilots.”