The International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC) began in 1991 on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology and is the longest running university-based robotics competition in the world. Since 1991, collegiate teams with the backing of industry and government have fielded autonomous flying robots in an attempt to perform missions requiring robotic behaviors never before exhibited by a flying machine. In 1990, the term “aerial robotics” was coined by competition creator Robert Michelson to describe a new class of small highly intelligent flying machines. The successive years of competition saw these aerial robots grow in their capabilities from vehicles that could at first barely maintain themselves in the air, to the most recent automatons which are self-stable, self-navigating, and able to interact with their environment—especially objects on the ground.
The primary goal of the competition has been to provide a reason for the state-of-the art in aerial robotics to move forward. Challenges set before the international collegiate community have been geared towards producing advances in the state-of-the-art at an increasingly aggressive pace. From 1991 through 2009, a total of six missions have been proposed. Each of them involved fully autonomous robotic behavior that was undemonstrated at the time and impossible for any robotic system fielded anywhere in the world, even by the most sophisticated military robots belonging to the super powers.
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