Implemented by       Capital Consulting Corporation    KSU at Salina           |       Supported by       NIST | PSCR

Implemented by Capital Consulting Corporation & Kansas State University – Salina, Supported by NIST & PSCR

This page will be updated as new FAQs become available.

# Posted Category
1 03/24/23 Submission

No, that is not necessary. However, we do encourage you to sign up on the Challenge website ( to receive updates about the Challenge.

2 03/24/23 Submission

No. Each unique team or Contestant may submit one proposal.

3 03/24/23 Submission

Yes. Updates to proposals can be submitted until the proposal deadline. Only the latest version will be evaluated.

4 03/24/23 Submission

These terms refer to the Contestant Portal, where you will submit the Solution Description proposal along with other required documents during Stage 1. Contestants may fill out a form and upload one or multiple documents which contain all the required elements.

5 03/24/23 Requirements

Yes. The goal is to develop an innovative solution for first responder teams, which can include work you developed prior to this competition. However, the design must adhere to the UAS Design Specifications, outlined in Table D of the Official Rules.

6 03/24/23 Requirements

Contestants will be selected based on their solution descriptions. We recommend that each team pursue their solution description as entered. Teams can make refinements; however, major shifts in the approach are strongly discouraged.

7 03/24/23 Requirements

Liability insurance is required to ensure that all contestants are covered in the event of an accident during test flights for this challenge and the final live event. Proof of a team's drone liability insurance is required to be eligible to receive prizes.

8 03/24/23 Requirements

Yes. A team can implement multiple air vehicles as part of their design. However, the multiple air vehicles must adhere to the UAS Design Specifications, outlined in Table D of the Official Rules.

9 03/24/23 Requirements

No. System designs can utilize commercially available products in their design.

10 03/24/23 Requirements

Not if the drone is completely unaltered for this challenge. An unaltered commercial off-the-shelf drone will not be accepted as a solution.

11 03/24/23 Requirements

Yes. The Table D UAS Design Specification requirements specify the minimum accepted capabilities a drone (and the system) must have in order to be an acceptable submission in the contest. There are preferred additional capabilities at the bottom of the table that are desired but not required.

14 03/24/23 Requirements

No. Any airframe type can be utilized; however, Contestants must show that the airframe meets the UAS Design Specification and is powered by batteries only.

15 03/24/23 Requirements

FAA regulations do not include indoor operations of UAS, and therefore, you do not need a FAA Part 107 license to enter.

16 03/24/23 Requirements

The use of Wi-Fi for communications between components on the UAS itself is allowed but is not advised, because it may be susceptible to interference from other radio frequency (RF) sources. A wired approach for this type of communication may be more prudent. The use of Wi-Fi for any communications between the UAS and the ground station or the flight termination system is allowed.

17 03/24/23 Contestant Teaming

Per the Eligibility Requirements in the Official Challenge Rules, "At the time of entry, the Official Representative (individual or team lead, in the case of a group project) must be age 18 or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States or its territories. In the case of a private entity, the business shall be incorporated in and maintain a place of business in the United States or its territories.”

18 03/24/23 Contestant Teaming

There is no limit to the number of team members.

19 03/24/23 Contestant Teaming

Yes, as long as the team has at least one US citizen. Contestants are required to comply with the Eligibility Requirements outlined in the Official Rules.

20 03/24/23 Contestant Teaming

NIST distributes prize money as a lump sum payment to the official team representative. NIST is not involved in any further distribution of prize money. The official team representative must be age 18 or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States or its territories.

21 03/24/23 Contestant Teaming

Please be aware that all cash prizes awarded to Participants by NIST are subject to tax liabilities, and no withholding will be assessed by NIST on behalf of the Participant claiming a cash prize. Please reference the Terms & Conditions in the Official Challenge Rules.

22 03/24/23 Contestant Teaming

Not in Stage 2.1, but yes, you may compete as a Walk-on contestant in Stage 2.2, by meeting all eligibility requirements defined for Stages 1 and 2, and having a fully compliant system.

23 03/24/23 Contestant Teaming

You are free to design your UAS as you like. However, the NIST logo cannot be included.

24 03/24/23 Live Event

To provide an even playing field, information regarding the location of the live competition site will not be shared until Stage 3.

25 03/24/23 Live Event

Challenge administrative staff members and live event site personnel will share site information and resources with Stage 2.2 winners.

26 03/24/23 Live Event

Spectators will be limited to NIST staff, judges, Challenge contestant staff and media. Other spectators will be decided upon as we get closer to the date of the live event, and all spectators will be required to register in advance.

27 03/24/23 Terms and Conditions

Once distributed, prize money is the property of the winner. However, we strongly encourage teams to continue participating in the Challenge as an opportunity to earn additional prizes, receive mentoring and improve your prototype.

28 03/24/23 Terms and Conditions

Absolutely. We encourage you to use this opportunity to publicly share your participation and any stage wins in the UAS Challenge. However, when publicizing your participation, you may not use NIST’s logo or official seal, and you may not claim NIST endorsement of your technology or organization.

29 03/24/23 Terms and Conditions

Each entrant retains title and full ownership in and to their submission. Entrants expressly reserve all intellectual property rights not expressly granted under the Challenge agreement. By participating in the Challenge, each “contestant grants the Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology, a royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to display publicly and use for promotional purposes the contestant’s entry (“demonstration license”). This demonstration license includes posting or linking to the contestant’s entry on the Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology websites, including the competition website and inclusion of the contestant’s submission in any other media, worldwide.” Please refer to the Terms & Conditions in the Official Challenge Rules.

30 03/24/23 Terms and Conditions

As stated in the Terms & Conditions of the Official Rules, “Individuals currently receiving NIST funding through a grant or cooperative agreement are eligible to compete but may not utilize the NIST funding for competing in this challenge.” Additionally, “Contestants may not be a NIST contractor or associate, or private entity providing services to NIST acting within the scope of their contract, employment, or funding or acquisition agreement with NIST which would involve the use of NIST funding to support a contestant’s participation in the challenge.”

31 03/24/23 Terms and Conditions

The challenge is open to individuals who are 18 years of age and older. Please see the Official Challenge Rules for complete eligibility requirements.

33 03/24/23 Live Event

Yes, additional details will be available in the future. Keep in mind the nature of public safety response and unknowns are an intrinsic part of any live event scenario.

34 03/24/23 Requirements

While there are not specified size dimensions, solvers should consider their design in the context of needing to operate in an unknown indoor environment where entry points and space may be limited.

36 03/24/23 Live Event

Additional details will be provided in the future. However, as a general approach, solvers should keep in mind real-world first responder scenarios related to indoor environments. In fact, it might be beneficial for teams to consider collaboration or feedback from local first responders to ensure that they are responsive to typical scenarios. There will be first responder choice awards given as part of the Challenge. You should also review the official rules and the Stage 3 requirements.

37 03/24/23 Terms and Conditions

PSCR is focused on developing innovations in UAS technology for first responders. Stage 4 of this Challenge is an opportunity for contestants to work with a public safety partner and gain additional support for their solution accelerator goals, including commercialization of their products.

38 03/24/23 Submission

While extra UAS features and operator capabilities will not be quantitatively applied to the scoring, they will be viewed favorably and judges have some latitude for incorporating additional feedback into the review process. Keep in mind that first responders will determine the winners for the First Responder Choice award in Stage 3. Please refer to the Challenge Rules.

39 03/24/23 Requirements

Contestants will be required to develop a public safety partnership as part of their Stage 4.2. plan. While it is not a requirement for other Stages, we strongly encourage early relationship-building as the challenge scenario and use case is First Responder-related. There will be an opportunity to engage with First Responder experts during Office Hours in Stage 2. It is also important to note that during Stage 3, there is a First Responder Choice Award.

40 03/24/23 Requirements

Procedural challenge rule questions should be forwarded to There will also be a webinar orientation, and the recording and slide deck will be provided on this site. Stage 2 winners will also have office hour opportunities. Questions can be sent anytime prior to 7 days before each submissions deadline. To be fair and equitable, general challenge questions will be posted to the FAQ section of the challenge website.

41 03/24/23 Live Event

It will be in the continental United States. More specific information will be provided during Stage 2.2.

42 03/24/23 Live Event

More details will be forthcoming at the start of Stage 2.2. The aim is to provide an agnostic design. Since First Responders need to be able to operate in a variety of scenarios, the UAS should be able to operate in a GPS-denied environment.

43 03/24/23 Terms and Conditions

NIST is not familiar with any current grants related to this work.

44 03/24/23 Terms and Conditions

It is not required. The challenge is designed with iterative prizes. Stage 1 winners received $7,500 to start planning their UAS design and are eligible for additional prizes across two milestones for a potential total of $22.5K and a travel prize of $5k in Stage 2 that can be used to attend the Stage 3.0 Live Event. Travel to the NIST laboratory or test site for Phase 4.2 is the responsibility of the contestant but can come out of prior prize awards.

45 03/24/23 Terms and Conditions

That is a decision that will be determined by the judges, if needed, and be based on the challenge rules.

46 03/24/23 Requirements

Yes, they should be included if such equipment is needed to operate your drone.

47 05/17/23 Requirements

Yes, the Final Event at the NIST Laboratory or test site is a requirement of this Stage. Contestants are responsible for the travel costs to the final event.

48 05/19/23 Requirements

No. Stage 1 of the NIST 5.0 Challenge is open to all eligible contestants. Please see the rules for eligibility requirements. For later stages, there is a down-select approach limiting entry to winners of the prior stage. However, there is a walk-on opportunity in Stage 2.2 where new contestants are able to participate towards a prize and being invited to the Live Event.

49 05/30/23 Requirements

The Bill of Materials (BOM) is a record of the actual costs incurred for the complete build of the system. The minimum requirement is a build that’s less than $20,000, and teams may be eliminated from advancing beyond Stage 1 if over $20,000. Teams that make it to Stage 3 can gain extra points for every dollar that is less than $20,000, with the most points given for systems reaching $10,000 or less.

50 05/30/23 Requirements

During Stages 1 and 2 of the challenge, Additional Preferred Capabilities are not used to eliminate any teams. During Stage 3, extra points can be gained but not lost by having an Additional Preferred Capability.

51 05/30/23 Requirements

We are NOT looking for UAS in this competition to be Blue or Green UAS Compliant. Rather, we are interested in having teams find innovative ways to secure their system based on some of the requirements in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Section 848. This is an Additional Preferred Capability and teams can gain more points in Stage 3 if they can demonstrate one or several of these features. Although Blue UAS is designed for military applications, their website describes the policy and features in plain language.

52 05/30/23 Requirements

We can assist with finding a local public safety agency with experience using drones. Please reach out using the “Contact Us” on the challenge website.

53 05/30/23 Requirements

We ask that license fees or software subscriptions (minimum six months) be included in your bill of materials. Contestants may use open-source, commercial, or customized software. If using open-source or commercial software, you must comply with terms of service and user agreements.

54 05/30/23 Requirements

The contest indoor environment will simulate a real-world, constrained environment, so pathways will not be guaranteed for a ground vehicle. Contestants using ground and aerial vehicles should explore options for removing or navigating around debris and obstacles.

55 05/30/23 Requirements

The solution does not require a ground robot. In Table D, the minimum is to have one aerial vehicle; however, teams can choose to have an additional vehicle (ground or aerial) to enhance their system and take advantage of other specifications listed in Table D. Teams with multiple vehicles may gain extra points for the additional vehicle if they can demonstrate a successful operation using both vehicles, but there will be a trade-off of functionality and cost where other points are derived. Please review Table D in the official rules and the Stage 3 Evaluation Criteria for how to gain the most points in the live event.

56 05/30/23 Requirements

There is no standard format. The intent is for the system to be able to share the data with first responders on the scene. The information/data should be presentable in a clear and actionable manner through widely available devices such as a video display, computer, headset, etc. The 3D map must be delivered on portable media storage (e.g., USB drive, SD card).

57 05/30/23 Requirements

High school students have participated in past challenges. The rules require that the Official Representative of the team must be at least 18 years old and meet all other eligibility requirements. Refer to the terms and conditions in the official challenge rules.

58 05/30/23 Requirements

Each stage has different evaluation criteria, which is defined in the official challenge rules. For example, the concept paper in Stage 1 must define the strategic alignment, technical outcome, feasibility, and team skills are the evaluation criteria.

59 05/30/23 Requirements

The requirement is that ‘no more than two UAS operators and support personnel’ are needed to operate the system. You may take advantage of autonomous functionality but keep in mind that, in the live event, you can have a maximum of two people to demonstrate your solution in the simulated environment.

60 05/30/23 Requirements

The Official Representative for the team must either be a US Citizen or a Permanent Resident, 18 years of age or older. Team members do not need to comply with this requirement.. Refer to the Eligibility Requirements listed in the terms and conditions in the official challenge rules.

61 05/30/23 Requirements

No, that is not required.

62 05/30/23 Requirements

No, an individual can only be a member of one team in this challenge. Each contestant team will be asked to complete the official eligibility document that lists all team members before Stage 1 results are announced.

63 05/30/23 Requirements

Yes, you may use off-the-shelf parts. The UAS must not be a completely unaltered commercially off-the-shelf (COTS) UAS, as the intent of the challenge is to design a UAS that is purpose-built to the objectives and requirements of the challenge.

64 09/07/23 Requirements

Blue or Green UAS is a term used by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and adapted by AUVSI, respectively. For this competition, we have not made Blue/Green UAS compliance a requirement. However, teams may opt to gain extra points as this is a preferred capability, and the scoring will be based on reviewing the bill of materials (BOM) worksheet and other documentation rather than a formal compliance check. The elaboration document provides more detail about this preferred capability.

65 09/07/23 Requirements

Yes, this is one example of your UAS’s ability for object detection in a real-world scenario.

66 09/07/23 Requirements

There is no minimum flight time requirement, and the UAS can return to the launch point for battery swap. However, lower flight times will make it difficult to promptly provide quality mapping, and multiple trips may require stitching maps together.

67 09/07/23 Requirements

This final video from the First Responder UAS Indoor Challenge (UAS 4.0) includes examples of flight stability. It is important to know that there will be no GPS access, and the environment will be constrained by debris or ceiling/ground obstructions.

68 09/07/23 Requirements

Although that is a nice added feature to highlight for first responder use cases, and potentially for the Best-in-Class award in stage 3, there will not be extra points applied to the scoring criterion.

69 09/07/23 Requirements

Although that is a nice added feature to highlight for first responder use cases, and potentially for the Best-in-Class award in stage 3, this is not expected. Please refer to the challenge use case and the minimum required capabilities in Table D: UAS Design Specifications.

70 09/07/23 Requirements

No. It is important to note that the object detection may not be just a full human but also could be exposed limbs and other body parts.

71 09/07/23 Requirements

The primary UAS must have all the minimum capabilities, including 3D mapping and video capabilities, in Table D: UAS Design Specifications. Additional uncrewed vehicles may duplicate or support the primary vehicle.

72 09/07/23 Contestant Teaming

A full team must be formed by the stage 2.2 mandatory check-in. A new eligibility form must be submitted if the official or alternate representative has changed.

73 09/07/23 Live Event

These details haven’t been finalized but will be shared with ample time for teams to prepare accordingly

74 09/07/23 Live Event

Instructions on the conditions of the live event are in the first tab of the TPM workbook template. Smoke may be present.

75 09/07/23 Submission

Please refer to the operational use case for gaining real-time or near-real-time indoor situational awareness. If special software is needed to view and evaluate the 3D map deliverable, please provide a viewer or reference for downloadable software. Consult the elaboration document for additional information.

76 11/20/23 Requirements

No, walk-ons are required to meet the Stage 2.2 submission requirements. Note: there are specific requirements for walk-on contestants, specifically evidence of insurance coverage and a completed eligibility verification form. Please see requirements outlined on pages 24-25 in the Official Rules for Walk-on Contestants.

77 11/20/23 Requirements

There will be another cost assessment in Stage 3, so teams may continue to improve their BOM costs.

78 11/20/23 Requirements

The judging will use a linear scoring scale between the actual BOM total and the maximum allowable BOM total of $20,000. The former will be set later, but there will be a point where an additional reduction in cost will not yield additional points.

79 11/20/23 Requirements

No, the raw cost or actual BOM total should be submitted. We are not asking for the market value.

80 11/20/23 Requirements

Rendering refers to the real or near-real-time 3D map display during a mission. The 3D map deliverable is the final output following any post-processing after the mission is complete. A maximum post-processing time of 30 minutes will be enforced.

81 11/20/23 Requirements

The minimum requirement is 640×480 pixels at 10 frames per second. Contestants are encouraged to maximize this capability.

82 11/20/23 Requirements

It is a combination. It is self-reported through the BOM annotation, where teams will provide evidence of Blue and/or Green UAS capability based on artifacts of origin (e.g., certificate of origin, origin identified in the product label), which will then be reviewed by the judges. As a reminder, this is not about certification but about capability. A contestant can claim both Green as well as Blue and Green UAS capability. More information is found on the Submission Templates page in the “Elaboration on Table D Requirements” document.

83 11/20/23 Requirements

It is up to the contestant to make that decision. There are many viable 3D mapping approaches that would meet the requirements stated in the Challenge rules. However, the indoor 3D map deliverable is a best-in-class award category, so readability and other subjective attributes will be considered by the judges.

84 11/20/23 Requirements

No, there are no other flights. Please note that a contestant can take as many practice flights as they like and submit an entry that represents the best capability demonstration.

85 11/20/23 Requirements

This has not been clarified, but for purposes of getting to Stage 4, it would be ideal to have someone who could travel to the US. It would be interesting to have an international perspective, so it will not be discounted. However, for logistics, public safety partners need to be readily available.

86 11/20/23 Requirements

During the Stage 2.2 webinar, 2-inch, 4-inch, and 8-inch cubes were presented. They represent what contestants should expect.

87 11/20/23 Requirements

The required capabilities are the minimum standards. Contestants must meet the required capabilities to advance through the competition stages. The preferred capabilities will help contestants gain more points.

88 11/20/23 Live Event

There is no limit, but there is a travel award of $5,000 per team. Teams may send more people, but they will need to cover travel on their own. There is a maximum of two team members who can compete in the live event.

89 11/20/23 Live Event

The challenge management team will provide more details closer to Stage 3. While there will likely be a lot of hazards, for ease of identification, these will likely be the 3D cubes of 8, 4, and 2” size.

90 11/20/23 Live Event

The challenge management team will not reveal specific details of the Live Event, but it is safe to assume that there will be multiple floors to navigate. You may also encounter smoke, lighting differences, and varying degrees of clutter and congestion during the live event area. Lastly, the deeper into the building the UAS travels, the more indoor features, such as walls and doorways, it will encounter.

91 11/20/23 Contestant Teaming

This is a subjective rating, and it will be the strength of the partnership that has value. However, multiple partnerships may create additional benefit towards improving their design process. While teams will not get additional points with multiple partners, there will be point deductions for having no partners.

92 11/20/23 Requirements

The height and width requirements are 7 feet to 12 feet. A deviation of up to 2 feet in width or height is allowed. Please contact the challenge management team if you have any questions about your space.

93 12/04/23 Requirements

The requirement is simply 640x480 pixels at 10 fps, but analog video is discouraged. All UAS competing in the challenge must follow the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules and regulations. All radio equipment should be certified by the FCC (contain an FCC ID label). Analog equipment that the FCC will approve has so many limitations that it likely isn’t practical. Any radio equipment without an FCC ID isn’t legal without some specific license or authorization, such as an experimental or HAM license.

94 12/21/23 Requirements

As the Guidebook states, course dimension allows for a deviation of plus or minus 2 feet. A temporary partition can be created using plywood or drywall in a larger space.

95 12/21/23 Requirements

Yes, you need to get any major changes (e.g., aircraft frame, 3D mapping hardware and software, radios, communications hardware) approved in writing by the UAS 5.0 Challenge Team. Note substantive changes that significantly alter the original design or increase safety risks may not be approved.

96 12/21/23 Requirements

While there is no minimum flight time requirement, the longer your UAS is able to fly in an environment, the greater area you should be able to scan.

97 12/21/23 Requirements

Yes, it is permissible to use proprietary or custom user interfaces. However, you must ensure that the final 3D map deliverable can be viewed with a free and publicly available viewer. Alternatively, you may provide the proprietary or custom viewer to the UAS 5.0 Challenge Team for use by the judges.

98 12/21/23 Requirements

While not required, a camera gimbal is a preferred capability.

99 12/21/23 Submission

Yes, the TPM workbook template has protected sheets, and all unlocked cells should be populated with your rationale or justification for evaluation purposes.

100 12/21/23 Submission

In Stage 2.2, the 2D target scores are optional and do not count toward the final score in the scoresheet. However, they may be part of the Stage 3 score.

101 12/21/23 Submission

Yes, you may.

102 12/21/23 Live Event

Yes, the same prisms will be used in the live event. The color may be different, but it will be uniform across the test course.

103 03/07/2024 Live Event

The indoor environment will get increasingly difficult with little clutter in the beginning and more clutter as the course progresses. You should expect multiple rooms and floors.

104 03/07/2024 Live Event

The mission scenario and course will not be made known before the competition. As a reminder, the static and operational tests will be progressively more challenging to prepare the teams for the final mission scenario.

105 03/07/2024 Live Event

To ensure competition integrity and due to limited space availability, one team will go through the scenario mission at a time, and other teams may not observe. Video footage may be shared following the completion of Stage 3.

106 03/07/2024 Live Event

They will be inside the bunker but outside the course to simulate a real-life scene where the operator is outside the building. The operator will only have a remote-person view after their drone enters the first doorway.

107 03/07/2024 Live Event

No, you can bring a spare drone that matches the cost and design of your primary drone. If you are a winner of Stage 3 and invited to Stage 4, you will have an opportunity to fly different drones in Stage 4.

108 03/07/2024 Live Event

The measurements will be taken by the team with test administrators and evaluators looking on. While time is not an evaluation factor, there will be a cap of 30 minutes for measurements. Any team member may take the measurements.

109 03/07/2024 Live Event

It is difficult to assess and depends on your cellular service provider. Your drone should be able to independently maintain connectivity since the challenge use case occurs in a constrained environment, including GPS denial and limited connectivity.

110 03/07/2024 Live Event

There will be a table and chairs.

111 03/07/2024 Live Event

No. In addition to the teams and evaluators, who are a mix of researchers and first responders, the host will invite local public safety organizations and media to observe the overall challenge. We will ask each of you for poster content that will be displayed and can be shared with attendees.

112 03/07/2024 Live Event

Most communication will be through closed-circuit wired cameras, with no intentional interference. The Hangar will have public Wi-Fi.

113 03/07/2024 Terms and Conditions

Teams may not share pilots for the final mission scenario as the pilot would become familiar with the test course following his/her attempt with his/her first team.

114 03/07/2024 Terms and Conditions

All winners of Stage 3 are invited, which includes the top three performers and the five winners of the Best-in-Class awards.

115 03/07/2024 Terms and Conditions

No, it is for both tracks, business and academic, but will be tailored to the specific goal of the team.

116 03/07/2024 Requirements

Yes, but you must meet the minimum capability requirement of up to two crew members. If you are adding new team members, be sure to update your Verification of Eligibility Form and email it to the challenge administrators by 3/22/24.

117 03/07/2024 Requirements

The 3D mapping test lane will be 40 feet (double the Stage 2.2 test lane). For the final mission scenario, the total mission duration will be a maximum of 30 minutes. Teams may change batteries during that time, but the timer will not stop.

118 03/07/2024 Requirements

If you switch to manual control selectively during the final mission scenario, you will not get credit for demonstrating autonomous path planning under Criterion 4. For instance, if you switch to manual control to fix an issue but don't go back to autonomous mode within a reasonable time set by the test administrators, you will not get credit for autonomous path planning.

119 03/07/2024 Requirements

No, sensor orientation changes do not need approval.

120 03/07/2024 Requirements

There will be no interaction with the official operators when they are operating the system. The two operators are simulating a real-life mission.

121 03/07/2024 Requirements

Yes, but the drone will need to return to the station. A point deduction will be assessed if manual retrieval is needed.

122 03/07/2024 Requirements

The check-in is informal. The NIST Challenge team will provide feedback on your Stage 2.2 submission. If you want to change your UAS, you must notify the NIST Challenge team and obtain written approval.

If you have additional questions, please send them to

Implemented by       Capital Consulting Corporation    KSU at Salina           |       Supported by       NIST | PSCR

Implemented by Capital Consulting Corporation & Kansas State University – Salina, Supported by NIST & PSCR