Building on the success of last year’s challenge, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will host the second annual small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) Challenge at the STIHL National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev., Sept. 16-20.

The 2015 challenge, which is sponsored by the University of Nevada, Reno’s Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center in partnership with NASA, will be composed of two separate competitions: An “Open Class” where competitors race their own sUAS and the “International Race of Champions” (IROC) format race where all participants race identical drones provided by Embry-Riddle.

The competition will take place inside the netted, 40 foot by 60 foot by 30 foot high “Drone Zone.” Only experienced operators may participate, and Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) membership is required to participate in the Open Class.

“The objective of the sUAS Challenge is to educate the public on UAS operations and opportunities, as well as highlight Nevada’s and Embry-Riddle’s leadership roles in unmanned development and innovation,” said Embry-Riddle Worldwide Assistant Professor David Thirtyacre, who is the challenge coordinator. “It is great to give the public a taste of what our students are working on as part of the future of this exciting field.”

The Open Class will include practice sessions Thursday and Friday, eliminations on Saturday and finals on Sunday. Each day will begin with a mandatory operators meeting at 9 a.m. with trials between 9 a.m. and noon. In the spirit of the Open Class, there are no restrictions for control techniques; either Line of Sight (LOS) or First Person View (FPV) may be used, nor are there restrictions on automation. The field for the Open Class is limited to 25 participants and will include obstacle and speed courses. All races will be in an individual, time trial format, with the winner determined by minimum time to successfully accomplish the course.

The IROC Class will be a separate race each day (Thursday through Sunday) with a required signup for each day. The competition will take place inside the drone zone from 2 to 4 p.m. The aircraft supplied will be a 180-size quad similar to a Dromida Ominus or Blade 180. The competition will be in a time trial format to determine the four fastest competitors. The final four fastest qualifiers will then race in a side-by-side semifinal and final race. The field will be limited to 15 participants per day or as determined by the event staff.

The Challenge is open to any private, academic or commercial participant, limited to one vehicle per operator. For the Open Class, the sUAS must be able to take off and land vertically (VTOL), be less than approximately 36 inches in major axis, less than 18 inches in elevation and weigh less than 10 pounds. The sUAS will be required to use an electric propulsion, actuation and power system, controlled by remote transmission using the FCC unlicensed bands. To ensure control reliability, a spectrum analyzer will be employed to ensure deconfliction.

There is no charge for entry in the ERAU sUAS Challenge, and each Open Class entry will receive complimentary general admission tickets to the STIHL National Championship Air Races. Trophies will be awarded to the Open Class Obstacle Course winner, Speed Course winner, and combined champion. Trophies will also be awarded to the daily winner of the IROC Class.

Those who wish to participate in the sUAS Challenge must register in advance by going to For more information on the competition, email [email protected].

Weather or other factors may cause alterations or cancellation of each day’s competition.

WHERE: 14501 Mt. Anderson St., Reno, NV 89506. The Embry-Riddle Experience will be located inside the expanded Drone Zone just inside the main gates to the STIHL National Championship Air Races.


–          National Championship Air Races:

–          sUAS Challenge: registration form and official rules

–          Embry-Riddle unmanned and other degree programs:


–          Melanie Hanns, Director of University Communications/Media Relations, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; (386) 226-7538 or (386) 283-0753; [email protected]

–          Valerie Glenn, The Glenn Group, (775) 686-7777 or (775) 250-8155, [email protected]

About Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 75 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and, and find expert videos at

About the Reno Air Racing Association

The Reno Air Racing Association (RARA), a 501(c)(3), holds the STIHL National Championship Air Races every September just north of Reno. The Reno Air Races have become an institution for northern Nevada and aviation enthusiasts from around the world. Last year’s event generated more than $66 million for the region’s economy. The event features six racing classes, a large display of static aircraft and several military and civil flight demonstrations. For more information on the STIHL National Championship Air Races, to obtain media credentials, volunteer or purchase tickets for this year’s event, visit, or follow us on Facebook at