In this list, we shine the light on 10 of the best drone competitions from around the world. These range from photography-focussed competitions to those that have more of a humanitarian or engineering focus.

As an Australian publication, we’re not ashamed to admit that there’s an Australian bias to the list!

The list

1. AAUS Drone Photo Competition (Australia)

This competition is brought to you by the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems (AAUS) and is supported by UAVAIR, a leading Australian drone training provider.

Competition categories:

  • Capturing Australia’s Natural Beauty
  • Capturing Valuable Industry Imagery
  • Image of a Drone at Work
  • Next Generation Drone Image
A winning entry from 2017 – photographer, Chris Watson (Source: AAUS)

Prizes include cash (up to 500 AUD), drones (up to 1,199 AUD in value), UAVAIR training courses (up to 2,995 AUD in value) and event tickets.

You will need to be quick to enter this competition as it closes on 5pm (AEDT) 31 January 2019!

2. AirVūz Drone Video Awards (Worldwide)

AirVūz is a premier destination for drone video content. AirVūz states that it “combines user-generated media with original programming to bring the best aerial content to drone enthusiasts worldwide.”

All uploads to airvuz.com during 2019 will be eligible for the 3rd Annual Drone Video Awards.

Prizes for the 2nd Annual Drone Video Awards ranged from 500 USD to 3,000 USD. We anticipate that information about the 2019 prize-pool will follow shortly.

3. DJI’s RoboMaster Robotics Competition (Worldwide)

In this awesome and unique competition hosted by drone giant DJI, participating teams independently develop different types of robots (including flying robots: drones). Teams then participate in mock robot battles in varied and complex environments.

The total prize pool is 600,000 USD and 173 teams have signed up for the 2019 competition.

simon zhu 983185 unsplash
Photo by Simon Zhu from Unsplash

According to competition’s website, “the RoboMaster Robotics Competition has attracted the interest of hundreds of colleges and universities, nearly 1,000 tech companies and organizations and tens of thousands of robotics enthusiasts around the world. It’s unique gameplay, technical difficulty, and competitive style are just a few reasons why RoboMaster is captivating the world.”

Although registrations are now closed, this competition generally runs each year. So, stay tuned for details about RoboMaster Robotics 2020.

4. UAV Challenge (Australia)

Founded in 2007, UAV Challenge’s mission with its flying robot challenges is to “promote the use of unmanned aircraft for search and rescue, and medical delivery, and to harness the ingenuity and passion of aero modellers, university students and high-school students to develop novel and cost-effective solutions to airborne search and rescue.”

The maximum prize set for 2018 was 75,000 AUD! Here is a link to the 2018 competition webpage, for a flavour of what to expect.

mitch nielsen 69438 unsplash
Photo by Mitch Nielson from Unsplash

We’ve reached out to the organisers of UAV Challenge to obtain info about competition plans for 2019. We will keep you updated as and when we receive information.

5. Dronestagram (Worldwide)

The Dronestagram Drone Photography Contest has been running for 5 years now. It’s a contest that attracts thousands of entries from around the world, from professional photographers through to amateur drone photo enthusiasts.

Prizes for the 2018 competition included a DJI Spark Fly More Combo, a GoPro 7 Black camera (all accessories included) and a DJI Osmo Mobile 2 stabiliser.

When details are released for the 2019 competition, we will provide an update.

6. Photographer of the Year (Australia)

Photographer of the Year is an annual competition presented by Panasonic.

Categories for 2018 included:

  • Aerial
  • Landscape
  • Travel
  • People & Portrait
  • Wildlife & Animal
  • Black & White
  • Junior
riccardo trimeloni 318271 unsplash
Photo by Riccardo Trimeloni from Unsplash

The total prize pool for 2018 was 46,000 AUD.

When details are released for the 2019 competition, we will provide an update.

7. Barcelona Smart Drone Challenge (Worldwide)

The Barcelona Smart Drone Challenge (BSDC) is now in its second year and is open to university teams worldwide. The purpose of the competition is to provide an opportunity to engineering students to hone their aerospace engineering skills to become industry-ready.

The 2019 competition requires teams to design, construct, develop and demonstrate an autonomous unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The UAS will be required to complete a mock humanitarian aid mission, as set out in the competition rules.

Registrations close on 15 February 2019.

javardh 629548 unsplash
Photo by Javardh from Unsplash

8. AlphaPilot AI Drone Innovation Challenge (Worldwide)

The AlphaPilot AI drone Innovation Challenge is brought to you by Lockheed Martin along with its Challenge Partners the Drone Racing League (DRL) and NVIDIA.

This is an open innovation challenge that invites participants to develop artificial intelligence for high-speed racing drones.

According to the Challenge website, competition entrants get a chance to “master autonomous flight and win more than 2,000,000 USD in cash prizes”.

Yes: 2 million USD!

9. Drone Champions League (by invitation only)

Drone Champions League (DCL) wants you to join the flying revolution.

According to the DCL website, “the DCL is the world’s first live high-speed race series for drones. In eight international teams, the world’s best drone pilots compete against each other and try to steer their homemade drones through an exciting course as quickly as possible. Drone Champions League races have taken place in Germany, France, Belgium, Romania, Liechtenstein, Spain and China.”

The 2018 season of DCL was televised in 100 countries worldwide.

The first race of DCL 2019 will be held in the Swiss Alps at the world-famous Snowpark Laax (this snowpark has the longest halfpipe in the world).

jorg angeli 361802 unsplash
Laax – photo by Jorg Angelli from Unsplash

This competition is obviously not open to any regular Joe, but we include it on the list for the buzz that the DCL competition has been generating globally.

10. Australian Drone Nationals

This is touted as Australia’s premier First Person View (FPV) Drone Racing National Event.

In the 2018 event, sponsored by Mission Foods, 64 drone pilots raced and 20 drone pilots competed in the drone freestyle event.

When details are released for the 2019 competition, we will provide an update.  

Steven Kind Photo
Photo by Steven Kind

For those looking for another competition in the interim, the Australian Open for Drone Racing and freestyle is on in March.

Conclusion

If you’re thinking about entering one of these great competitions, please be sure to carefully check the terms and conditions of the particular competition, including that you meet eligibility requirements.

If you know someone who might be interested in entering one of these competitions, please share this list with them.

Otherwise, feel free to drop a comment below or get in touch with us through our social channels.

You can check out some of our other Top 10 Lists here.

Feature photo by Lance Asper from Unsplash.