With a call-to-action for all “drone maniacs,” an upcoming competition is pursuing ideas to accelerate the development of unmanned vehicles and their related technologies – enabling new approaches in uses ranging from industrial inspection and surveying to emergency response and delivery.


Called the Deep Drone Challenge, this Airbus-defined contest is organised by the German incubator brigkAIR, with participation open to anyone from age 18 and onwards. The competition is seeking involvement of enthusiasts, start-ups, students and others to solve various problems in interdisciplinary teams. Participants can win up to €50,000 in prize money.


Airbus and brigkAIR have put the contest’s emphasis on drone technology and machine learning. Knowledge and interests in the fields of computer science, mechanical engineering, robotics and artificial intelligence are an advantage for participants.

Competitors to choose from two tracks

Two tracks have been defined for the Deep Drone Challenge. The first is named “The Drone Bot,” and is focussed on voice recognition technologies to command an autonomously-flying drone’s communications with air traffic controllers in a manner similar to piloted airplanes. This track imagines a typical mission from Ingolstadt Central Railway Station in Bavaria to Munich International Airport, with the drone “asking” for permission to take-off and fly, while also accepting changes via voice recognition in real-time along the way and during landing.


The second track is designated “The Pathfinder,” with its challenge linked to autonomous situational awareness that enables a drone to overcome suddenly-appearing physical and virtual obstacles. The imagined scenario is a rescue mission delivering a defibrillator from Ingolstadt’s railway station to the Pfaffenhofen Main Railway Station. As every second counts in this life-saving flight, the drone must autonomously find the fastest and most optimal path – with agility and a high level of responsiveness among the keys to success in this challenge.

The Deep Drone Challenge was defined and co-financed by Airbus as part of its innovation strategy; brigkAIR handles the organisation, participation, management and marketing

brigkAIR is part of the brigk digital start-up incubator located in the Ingolstadt region of Bavaria, and the Deep Drone Challenge is part of its expanded focus to include the innovative field of urban air mobility.


To take part in the contest, candidates can apply alone or with a team of up to five people. The deadline is September 27, and once finalists are selected, the contest will be conducted in two phases: WarmUp and Final. Participants are to preferably build, develop and bring their own drone prototypes to fulfill tasks of the selected track, but contest organisers also can provide limited drone platforms if requested.  


For additional details on the Deep Drone Challenge, and to fill out the "Call for Drone Maniacs" application form, see the dedicated challenge website: https://brigkair.digital/ddc/.