For the purposes of this challenge, the following definitions hold:
The system: The set of all participants -- vehicles, controllers (human or automated), information services (ground or airborne), navigation services, sensor services, etc. -- in the airspace traffic.
Auto-characteristic or self-characteristic: An auto-characteristic or self-characteristic is an action performed by a participant in the system. This includes autonomy (self-governance, self-control, self-management); automation (performance of a task by a machine/software); self-monitoring, self-diagnosing, self-repair, self-protection, and self-optimization.
This challenge seeks to develop component concepts and technologies that will facilitate a transition to an airspace with dense, diverse and autonomous traffic. The following areas (not exhaustive) are of particular interest:
- All concepts and technologies related to auto- or self-characteristics of the system that support safe, efficient, and resilient traffic; for instance, methods and algorithms for self-organization and self-management in dense traffic. Consider the following example: in the present system, the paths of individual vehicles are approved by the air traffic control system. In a future autonomous system, it is anticipated that individual vehicles would be able to pursue their objectives with the smallest possible numbers of deviations from their optimal paths. However, when a group of vehicles has the same objective (say, flying to the same football game), increased density would require that the vehicles form organized flows to reach their destination efficiently and safely. This situation is similar to the current need for increased traffic control near and at airports. Concepts that allow groups of vehicles to self-organize dynamically, without external control, would be an example of self-organization.
- All concepts and technologies that improve the situational awareness in the system (e.g., sensors, information technology) in dense and diverse traffic.
- Security, including cyber-security of automated systems; and ensuring safety and security in the presence of non-cooperative participants.
Any other technologies and concepts, both large and small, that would facilitate a transition to a diverse and dense autonomous airspace, would be welcome for consideration.
Successful submissions will include the following elements:
- A description of the proposed technology or concept. Does it address vehicles in the system, the system services, or concept of operations? How does the technology interact with the system (e.g., with the other systems on a vehicle or other vehicles or other control)? On what existing and future technologies does the proposed technology or concept rely? Include a description of the world in which the technology will be operational. The metrics of success for the proposed technology/concept and its effects on the system should be clearly identified (efficiency, capacity, flexibility, predictability, delays, etc.)
- A detailed description of the proposed concept/technology functioning as related to a vehicle’s progression through the system, gate to gate or door to door or other uses of airspace.
- A detailed explanation of the proposed concept’s/technology’s impact on the system’s safety and security, with comparison to the current transportation system.
- An explanation of the concept/technology robustness (insensitivity to everyday disturbances) and resiliency (ability to spring back after major disturbances).
- An explanation of how the proposed concept/technology aids in transition from the present system to the future system that accommodates dense, diverse and autonomous traffic.
- Proposed solutions should be accompanied with substantiated discussions of major obstacles, both technical and societal, and potential approaches to overcoming them.
Evaluation of submissions will be weighted according to the following:
Originality and innovation shown in presented future scenario, designed solutions, and ideas
Substantiated, well-reasoned, realistic, and justified assumptions, discussion, design, and conclusions
Thorough and comprehensive pursuit of the problem; all types of stakeholders, vehicles, and airspace (e.g. altitudes) are addressed by the discussion and proposed solution
Presentation, organization, and clarity of submission; appropriate and clear use of figures, tables, and text
Submit your response in the form of a single PDF document (20 MB maximum). Responses are limited to no more than 15 pages total, including all sections and appendices. Submissions must be in English. Paper size must be 8.5 by 11 inches. Minimum margins are one inch. Font must be minimum 12 pt, single-spaced (text in tables and figures may be as small as 9 pt).
Prizes will be awarded to the top three submissions:
- First Place - $10,000
- Second Place - $3,000
- Third Place - $2,000
- December 21st, 2015 - Challenge Launches
- February 26th, 2016 - Submissions Due
- March 31st, 2016 - Winners Announced
Who can participate:
The Prize is open to all individuals, age 18 or older, private teams, public teams, and collegiate teams. Individual competitors and teams may originate from any country, as long as United States federal sanctions do not prohibit participation (see: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Pages/Programs.aspx). To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the Prize as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.
Registration and Submissions:
All innovators and teams must be registered prior to submitting an entry. Submissions must be received on or before February 26, 2016 at 11:59 pm EST. No late submissions will be accepted. Submissions must be made in English. All prize-related communication will be in English. Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the HeroX.com website. All uploads must be in PDF format.
Selection of Winners:
Based on the winning criteria, 3 prizes will be awarded to the top three submissions: First Place - $10,000; Second Place - $3,000; Third Place - $2,000. In the case of a tie, the winner(s) will be selected based on the highest votes from the judges. NASA has absolute and sole discretion to determine whether to accept any submission, and whether to award one prize, multiple prizes or no prize based on the volume and content of submissions.
- By participating in the Prize, each competitor agrees to submit only their original idea. Any indication of copying amongst competitors is grounds for disqualification.
- All applications will go through a process of due diligence; any application found to be misrepresentative, plagiarized, or sharing an idea that is not their own will be automatically disqualified.
- All ineligible applicants will be automatically removed from the competition with no recourse or reimbursement.
- No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win the competition.
- Void wherever restricted or prohibited by law.