All activities for the ROADS on Mars challenge will take place indoors. To prepare for the challenge, all practice sessions — especially UAV practice — should also be conducted indoors. UAVs operated indoors are not affected by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations Part 107 regarding small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS).

Any and all UAV flight outdoors, however, is subject to FAA regulations and common sense. NESSP and the ROADS on Mars challenge do not sanction outdoor UAV flight in relation to this challenge.

UAV Safety Tips for Practicing

Here are some tips to help ensure a safe space for learning to fly a UAV and practicing for the ROADS on Mars challenge . Start by choosing a safe and suitable environment for flying:

  • Make sure that all necessary parts of the UAV are installed properly to ensure a stable and safe flight.
  • Choose an indoor flying area with plenty of open space, a high ceiling, and little HVAC draft, such as a gymnasium.
  • Make sure to clear the flying area of any obstacles.
  • Ensure that everyone in and around the flying area is aware and actively paying attention. Other activities can be a distraction and hazard to the UAV operator and to the participants of this other activity.

UAV Safety of Challenge Events

While a UAV is in the air, no one may be between the Mars mat and the launch area. Once the UAV has returned to position on the launching pad, the team is allowed to congregate around the Mars mat— but stepping onto the mat is prohibited.

If at any time the UAV flies more than 3 feet out of bounds, or if instructed by an event official, the team must land the UAV and shut it off immediately. If the team does not respond promptly to any requests from an event official, the team will be disqualified.

Additional safety rules may be added at any given Regional Hub depending on their local requirements. For example, some events may require the UAV to be tethered during the challenge. Review the supplemental manual for your regional hub for any additional safety rules that will apply to your event.