Leonardo Drone Contest 2021: And the winner is Gabriele Roggi and the Politecnico di Milano team

01 October 2021

Six teams from six universities comprising PhD students, researchers and students, supported by their professors and Leonardo Umanned Systems experts, six drones that flew in complete autonomy with AI algorithms onboard, four increasingly complex rounds on a structured competition field with buildings, take-off and landing pads, and the presence of known and unknown objects. A real drone competition. In a tie, victory would go to whoever completed the mission in the shortest possible time.

The second edition of the ‘Leonardo Drone Contest - An Open Innovation Challenge’ concluded on September 30th in Turin again with the victory for the Politecnico di Milano team led by the PhD student Gabriele Roggi.

The ‘Special Jury Prize’ went to PhD Lorenzo Gentilini with its Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna team for stimulating interest in their collaborative solutions between technologically advanced systems and automation.


This year's competition was very exciting, held over three days from 28 to 30 September on the contest field at the Leonardo Aircraft Division in Turin. The contest between the teams from the six universities – Politecnico di Torino, Politecnico di Milano, Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa, University of Rome Tor Vergata and University of Naples Federico II - proved to be much more complex and challenging than last year. The drones had to ‘reflect’ on the planning by interacting with sensors and cameras, recognise objects from a QR code, take photos and send them to the ‘supervisor’, respond to further enquiries, land and recover. They had to overcome all the unforeseen mission-related problems, resets, breakdowns, excessive energy consumption and, not least for an uncrewed aircraft, so-called ‘human error’.

The 2021 edition confirmed that the greater the challenge, the more tangible the Contest’s objectives become. This opens up the possibility of creating even more challenging scenarios for the third and final competition in 2022.

As we look forward to following the six teams again in the next challenge, the contest field at the Turin Aircraft Division will become an indoor drone testing arena, remaining available to the six university teams and visitors. This element adds to the development of the ecosystem established in the area by the Leonardo Drone Contest.

Created in 2019, the Drone Contest takes place over three years, with two annual events, a scientific symposium and a competition, and will end in 2022 with the third edition’s final contest.

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