Skip to main content

ROAVcopter Mini - Junior High Rules: 2019-2020

  1. The Quadcopter

1.1. The Quadcopter that is being utilized for this competition is the DJI Tello EDU The camera on the Tello will be used during the computational thinking challenge for inspection purposes. Drones can be purchased from or other sources such as Amazon. 

Note: The Parrot Mambo is grandfathered into the 2019-2020 ROAVcopter season. 

1.2. A smart phone or controller is necessary in order to control the DJI TELLO EDU.

1.3. A tablet such as an IPad is also required to program autonomous flight using apps such as DroneBlocks.

1.4. Additional propellers, batteries, and battery charger may be purchased though DJI, Parrot, or Amazon.

1.5. Other third party batteries may have slightly more capacity and are permitted in competitions provided the battery fits in the standard battery holder and is authorized for the drone.

1.6. Only DJI, or other injection molded plastic propellers may be used. All other propellers, (e.g., carbon fiber) are strictly forbidden.

The Field

The field for the ROAV Quadcopter Challenge consists of two canopy tents fastened together to form a flying envelope 32' long X 16' wide X 12' high.  Netting is hung to isolate the quadcopters from participants and spectators, see figure 1.

 ROAV comp field

Figure 1. ROAVcopter Field Design

  1. Safety Practices

3.1  Power cannot be applied to the propellers unless quadcopter is in a netted area.

3.2. All team members and event personnel directly participating at the field will wear designated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Safety glasses are required to be worn by anyone flying or assisting in the flight of the quadcopter. 

3.3. If the skill challenge allows for a team member to be in the netted area while competing, the student will be required to wear a face shield with or without a helmet along with safety glasses (e.g. softball type face mask, or forestry safety headgear). 

3.4. Only one team member will power up and operate the quadcopter; this includes both the hand held controller, connected smartphone/tablet and quadcopter.

3.5. Power cannot be applied to the propellers until all non-essential personnel is out of the field and behind netting and the referee begins the countdown (“3, 2, 1, go”). This does not apply to specific skill challenges that permit a team member to be in the netted are during a match. 

Safety Practice Penalties 
Violation of other safety practices 3.1 - 3.4 will result in a formal warning followed by levels of disqualification from individual runs to tournaments to seasons. Violating rule 3.5 will result in the disqualification of that team. A second offense will result in that team being disqualified for half of a season. A third offense will result that team being disqualified for an entire year.

Skill Challenge Rules

Introduction: The 2019-2010 ROAVcopter Mini Challenge will focus on four different precision challenges: Relay Race, Autonomous Flight,Computational Thinking and the development of a portfolio. With the exception of the development of a portfolio, each skill challenge is required to be completed by a different pilot. 

The Relay Race: challenges students to design a mechanism to secure a baton, and their flying skills with moving the baton around the field. Students are to move batons as outlined in the Relay Race Section as many times as possible in one minute, fifteen seconds.

Autonomous Flight: leverages the TELLO's ability to be programmed. Teams will be required to program their quadcopter through the course outlined in figure 2. 

Computational Thinking is divided into two heats - manual control and autonomous control. During the manual control heat the quadcopter is used to acquire data using the onboard camera. This will be done in a single 45 second flight. During the autonomous heat, the quadcopter is programmed to navigate through various field elements. This will be done in a single or multiple flight(s) collectively lasting no more than one minute. 

Portfolio Development A portfolio will be submitted by each team competing in the ROAVcopter challenge. A portfolio will consist of five categories: the design process, design and fabrication, autonomous flight plan, flight log, and the presentation of the portfolio to the judges. This portfolio is to be submitted for judging at each ROAVcopter competition. Judging of the portfolio will be conducted by judges and will be ranked ordered. The ranking of the portfolio is used to calculate overall tournament champion.

4. Relay Race

4.1. The Baton

4.1.1. Baton is made up of 1/8” dowels and 3D printed connectors. For a visual representation, see figure 3.

4.1.2. Detailed drawing and STL file for 3D printing is available to download here, Baton drawing and STL files download.

 middle school baton

 Figure 3. Baton 



4.2. Field configuration
 A 16' net will be hung down the center of the field, leaving an 8' opening at each end, forming an oval race course. A rope is hung in each 8' opening from the top of the 12' flying envelope in line with the dividing net forming a 4' to 4’-6" half-loop; see figure 3 below.

4.3. Teams will only have one and a half minutes to move the batons as many times as possible.

4.4. Teams will set their quadcopter on the side of the field with only one baton.

4.5. During the relay race batons will be flown in a counter clockwise rotation 

4.6 At the start of the race, the quadcopter will take off, fly half a lap around the race oval, pick up a baton, and place the baton on the quadcopter's starting location. The quadcopter will then pick up the baton that the quadcopter initially started out next to. This baton is then dropped off at the opposing side of the oval, where the first baton was removed. The remaining baton is then picked up, and moved to the opposing side of the field. This process is continued until one and a half minutes has elapsed.

4.7. Batons need to be placed on the opposite side of the oval from which it was picked in order to be counted for points.

4.8. For a visual representation of the race flight plan, see figure 5.

4.9. Scoring for the Relay Race Challenge: For each successful translocation of a baton, a team will be awarded points. For every baton moved and successfully placed on an open 2' X 2' tile, 3 points will be awarded. For every baton moved and successfully placed on the 6' X 8' landing zone, 2 points are awarded. For every baton moved and placed on the required side of the course, 1 point is awarded. Each time a quadcopter fly’s through the 8' opening at either end of the oval, and passes through the hanging loop an additional point will be added to their score. The team with the highest number of points is considered the winner of this challenge.

 Relay configuration
Relay elevation view

 Figure 4. Relay Field Configuration 


 Relay flight path

 Figure 5. Relay Field Flight Path

  1. Autonomous Flight

5.1 Field Configuration: For this challenge, students are required to program their quadcopter to navigate through the tall PVC chair hoop and a rope. A rope is hung at the far 8' opening from the top of the 12' flying envelope forming a 4' to 4’-6" half-loop; see figure 2

5.2. The programming platform suggested for this competition is a tablet based drag-and-drop application called Droneblocks, which is freely available through the Apple Store. Other applications such as Scratch can be used. 

5.3 Various points will be assigned for flying through each field element along with a precision landing. See scoring below. 

5.4 Navigating through field elements can be done individually with multiple flights, collectively with a single flight, or any combination in between. 

5.5 If using a single flight, the quadcopter must successfully return to the start side of the taped line to be considered successful. If the flight is not successful, no points will be awarded. 

5.6 If using multiple flights, the quadcopter must return to the start side of the taped line. The team member within the field may pick up the quadcopter, and move it back to the start tile for an additional flight. If the quadcopter does not return to the start tile side of the taped line, the challenge ends. Points earned for previous successful flights will be awarded. 

5.7 Only the final flight will be eligible for points earned though precision landing. Only flights that are completed within the allotted one minute will be counted. 

5.8. Obstacles do not need to be navigated in any specific order as points are awarded based on successfully navigating individual obstacles. 

5.9. Each team will set their quadcopter on the starting tile (2' X 2') at one end of the field. At the ‘Go’ signal the timer will start and participants will activate their program, and their drone will navigate around various obstacles.

5.10. Teams have one minute to earn as many points as possible.

5.11. Only flights crossing the taped line outbound and flights crossing the taped line again inbound are eligible to earn points.

5.12. Additional flights can only be attempted if the quadcopter comes to a rest on the starting tile side of the taped line. 

5.13. If a quadcopter does not make it back to the start side of the tapped line after one or more successful flights, the points earned from the successful flights will be counted. 

5.14. Teams will have 1 - 3 attempts to achieve their best score based on the discretion of the competition manager.

5.15. Scoring

5.15.1. All points must be earned within the time allotted, one minute. 

5.15.2. Obstacle point values are as follows: Flying around the rope: 2 Flying through the half-loop rope: 2 Flying through the upper vertical hoop: 2 Flying through either horizontal hoop: 2 Flying through either two parallel lower hoops: 2

5.15.3 Landing point values are as follows: Landing on the 2’ X 2’ starting tile on the final flight: 3 Landing on the 6’ X 6’ landing zone on the final flight: 2 Landing on the start tile side of the taped line on the final flight: 1

5.15.4. Direction of flight for traveling through hoops and going around ropes does not matter. Any successful navigation of these obstacles will result in awarded points.

5.15.5. Obstacles can only be scored once. 

5.15.6. Teams with the most points wins. Ties will be decided based on which team finishes the challenge in the least amount of time.

5.16.   Scoring Example:

5.16.1. A team opts to complete the tasks in one flight. They navigate around the rope, through the upper vertical hoop, and through both horizontal hoops. On the return to the starting tile, they land on the 6' x 6' landing zone. Elapsed time: 36 seconds. Points earned: 10

5.16.2. A team opts to complete the task using two flights. The first flight, the team travels both horizontal hoops, the upper vertical hoop, and returns to the starting side of the taped line. The student then moves the quadcopter to the starting tile, changes the drone battery and the program. The second flight the student flies around the rope and lands on the 6' x 6' tile. Elapsed time: 52 seconds. Points earned: 10

5.16.3. The two teams in the examples above are tied based on points, however, the first team completed the tasks in 36 seconds will be placed ahead of the team that completed the tasks in 52 seconds. 


Autonomous layout
Autonomous layout dimension
elevation autonomous

6. Computational Thinking Skill Challenge

6.1 Autonomous flight heat:

6.1.1 Only one flight is allowed per team per attempt.

6.1.2 Obstacles that may be required to navigate in the autonomous portion of the challenge include but are not limited to: the double hoop, the tall chair hoop, and hanging ropes.

6.1.3 Each field element will have an associated point value that a team can earn.

6.1.4 Teams will have one minute to gather as many points as possible during the autonomous portion of this challenge.

6.1.5 The specific locations and associated point values regarding field elements for this challenge will be released to the teams one hour before the computational thinking skill challenge begins. Once the competition has been released, coaches, teachers, and mentors will be asked to leave the quadcopter hanger area.

6.1.6 Teams will have thirty minutes to plan their strategy to accumulate as many points as possible during the span of one minute of autonomous. The first 10 minutes are reserved for students to take measurements of the competition field. At the end of one hour, teams will bring their quadcopter and their programming controller to the field so no additional adjustments can be made.

6.1.7 Teams will be given two attempts at the autonomous flight heat. Points are earned regardless if a flight ends in a crash. High score will be used for ranking calculation.


6.2 Manual flight heat:

6.2.1 During the manual flight heat, students will score points based on visual inspection and obstacle navigation. Ties in point values will be broken by the team who conducts the manual potion the fastest.

6.2.2 Point values for associated field elements and required flight elements are released to teams with the autonomous flight values.

6.2.3 During the manual flight portion of the challenge, the Pilot in Control is required to stand in the designated pilot box. Movement outside of this box will result in disqualification from the round.

6.2.4 Spotters are to be used to help guide the pilot through the tall chair hoop and landing on the required landing tile. Spotters CAN NOT speak during this challenge and must communicate via hand signals or manipulatives. Penalties will be levied at the judges discretion for unauthorized communication between spotters and pilots.

6.2.5 Teams are limited to two spotters. Spotters are required to stand in the designated spotter locations.

6.2.6 Teams will have up to two minutes to conduct the required flight.

6.2.7 Using the ROAVcopter on board cameras, teams will visually identify pertinent information as directed by judges. Teams will be required to record the inspection using the onboard SD card or connected phone for judging purposes.

6.2.8 Visual data can only be used for the inspection challenge. The subsequent obstacle navigation and landing are required to be done via spotter communication. Connected phone needs to be turned dark or flipped over once drone passes through the hanging tarp opening and enters the west section of the competition field.

6.2.9 Crashes negate points earned in that section of the field. For example, if a team successfully completes the visual inspection, but crashes in attempting to navigate the tall chair hoop, points earned for visual inspection are still awarded as the tall chair hoop is in a different section of the field.  

6.2.10 Teams will be given one attempts at the manual flight heat. High score will be used for ranking calculation.

computational thinking
Computational Thinking Field Configuration


7. Portfolio Development 

A portfolio will be submitted by each team competing in the ROAVcopter challenge. A portfolio will consist of five categories: the design process, design and fabrication, autonomous flight plan, flight log, and the presentation of the portfolio to the judges. This portfolio is to be submitted for judging at each ROAVcopter competition. Judging of the portfolio will be conducted by judges and will be ranked ordered. The ranking of the portfolio is used to calculate overall tournament champion.

7.1 Design and fabrication

7.1.1 Teams will submit information related to the design and fabrication of any device attached to the quadcopter for a ROAVcopter competition.

7.1.2 This includes but is not limited to engineering graphics, (computer aided drafting, or hand sketching) design iterations, functionality, and fabrication (fit and finish).

7.1.3This section should outline materials and techniques used in the construction of any device used and the competition.  Though computer aided drafting is not required it is strongly recommended.

7.2 The Design Process

7.2.1 Teams will submit documentation supporting the various design process steps (i.e. identification of the problem, brainstorming including research, constructing of a prototype and all subsequent iterations, and how the solution fared in solving the problem).

7.2.3 This section should outline the history of design iterations and all other information pertinent to solving any technical problem solved in the ROAVcopter competition.

7.3 Autonomous flight plan

7.3.1 Teams will submit their autonomous flight strategy, pseudo code, programming code, as well as any other pertinent information such as mathematical calculations used to figure distance traveled based on time. 

7.3.2The autonomous flight plan should reflect the flight plan required for the autonomous ROAVcopter challenge.

7.4 Flight log

7.4.1 Teams are to submit a flight log outlining all pertinent information from all practice flights leading up to the competition. 

7.4.2 The flight log should consist of the name of the pilot in command, the drone used in in the flight (e.g. Parrot Mambo, DJI TELLO EDU), the goal or mission of the flight, the date, time, and location of the flight, and any notes related to the flight (e.g. percentage of battery charge).

7.4.3 These notes should include information regarding any drone crash and any repair made to the drone.  Flight log templates are available online from numerous websites. See for one such example.

7.5 presentation of the portfolio to the judges

     7.5.1 Teams will be required to present their portfolio to a panel of judges at the ROAVcopter competition

8. Calculating Tournament Champion

8.1. At the end of each skill challenge teams will be ranked based on performance.

8.2. The team that performed the best during a skill challenge will receive a ranking of 1. The second best performing team will receive a ranking of 2. This process will continue through the field of teams.

8.3. If two teams tie, they will share those two places. The following ranked team will receive the next available position. For example, if two teams are tied for third place, they will hold the 3th and 4th position. The next highest ranked team will receive the 5th place position.

8.4. Tied teams, as in the example above where teams tied for the 3rd and 4th position, will have the lower place (higher number: e.g., 4) added into their final score.

8.5. If two or more teams tie after calculating overall tournament score, the highest ranked team in the Computational Thinking challenge will receive the higher ranking. Next, the Autonomous Flight challenge will be used to break the next level tie. 

8.6. Ties will only be broken for the top three places in the tournament. All other teams that are tied will remain tied.