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2020 First Responder UAS Endurance Challenge

This logo for PSCR's UAS Challenge contains an illustrated drone.

The First Responder Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Endurance prize competition from NIST PSCR invites innovators to bring their ingenuity and drone-building expertise to create a drone prototype for first responders. This is a 4-stage challenge, with prize awards up to $552,000 for the top designs. The most outstanding designs from Stage 1 will be eligible to participate in the remaining stages of the competition. The Stage 3 Walk-on Contestants will also be eligible to compete in Stage 4. The result of the First Responder UAS Endurance Challenge will support the public safety community and its stakeholders.

Stage 1 Winners Announced!

Congratulations to the Stage 1 winners and finalists!*



“It was just a really great experience being exposed to the first responder community at the live event. We were each assigned two flight crew members to help watch us and record our times, those two guys – one was a sheriff officer and the other was a fireman – those guys, just talking to them, it just made me realize even more how much our technology can help you save lives.”

- UAS 1.0 Challenge Participant

Learn about PSCR's UAS 1.0 (Flight and Payload) Challenge.

Challenge Purpose

The purpose of this Challenge is to advance UAS technologies by building and flying drones designed to support first responders. One of the barriers for the public safety community is having access to drones that can fly for long periods of time, ninety minutes or greater, while carrying a heavy payload. Emergency responders can accomplish their mission more efficiently and effectively if the drone flight time for a known payload is maximized. Since the payload capacity, energy source, flight characteristics, and flight time are linked together through design trade-offs, PSCR is exploring ways to optimize drones for increased flight endurance while making it more efficient and flexible for use by public safety.

Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UASs provide many different mission capabilities, but their flight time is limited. This challenge explores the design trade-offs that will keep a UAS, and its payload, airborne for the longest time possible while supporting first responders on the ground while they conduct their mission. The advancement of UAS research achieved through this challenge will help support the development and operation of UAS that are intended to host critical tools for public safety missions, such as wireless communications systems.

How To Participate

To learn more about the challenge rules and details, go to

For entry as a Walk-on in Stage 3, submit your entry by December 18, 2020.

*Stage 1 teams that ranked 1-10 received $10,000 each and were invited to competed in Stage 2
*Stage 1 teams that ranked 11-20 were invited to compete in Stage 2

Created March 17, 2020, Updated July 1, 2020