AVIC Cup International UAV Grand Prix, 2013

The NUS UAS Group from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has participated in the 2nd AVIC Cup International UAV Grand Prix, which was held in Beijing, September, 2013. In this competition, the group competed with a total of 120 teams from various universities, as well as civilian and military research institutes such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing University of Astronautics and Aeronautics and Nanjing University of Astronautics and Aeronautics.

The team has won the 1st place in the final round, and also the overall 2nd Place in the Rotor-Wing Prix. They have also won the New Innovation Star Prize in the Creativity Prix. Their achievements are also featured in NUS website.

Rotor-Wing Prix

In the Rotor-Wing Prix, competitors had to perform several tasks using a rotorcraft such as a helicopter. The UAV has to be fully autonomous when performing a list of tasks, like navigating to a moving ship and transferring the buckets on its side to another moving ship. Specifically, the team is required to perform the following tasks in fully autonomous control.

autonomous take-off

navigation to a target ship

picking up bucket from the target ship

dropping of bucket to the next ship

autonomous landing

In order to complete the tasks, a UAV is designed based on Raptor 90 airframe. The UAV codenamed NUS²TLion has the capability of completing the given tasks using a servo commanded mechanical claw in autonomous fashion.

We are the only team who complete every given tasks in the final round of the competition on the moving ship platforms.


Creativity Prix

In the Creativity Prix, competitors had to design a new type of aircraft and to prove that it works. An unconventional reconfigurable hybrid UAV, named ULion (NUS²TLion2), was designed for the competition. The platform primarily is able to perform vertical take-off and landing while transforming into fixed-winged mode to enhance flight efficiency and endurance. It has unique features such as the vector-thrust contra-rotating motors and adjustable canards to achieve stable hovering control and a 4-bar linkage mechanism which allows the folding of its wings, resulting in a compact platform design. The platform also features automatic adjustment of the centre of gravity while switching between modes to improve overall stability. Our team is one of the few teams that could achieve safe take-off, level flight and landing while exhibiting the innovative features of our platform.


NUS²T Lion

NUS²TLion is a rotor wing helicopter, which is designed for the 2nd AVIC Cup International UAV Grand Prix. It is fully autonomous when performing a list of tasks, like navigating to a moving ship and transferring the buckets on its side to another moving ship. Instead of using sophisticated differential GPS, NUS²TLion has incorporated multiple sensors such as camera and laser scanner for more accurate position estimation.The UAV won the first place in the final round of the competition and overall 2nd place.

ULion (NUS²T Lion 2)

ULion is an unconventional reconfigurable hybrid UAV, designed by National University of Singapore. The UAV is mainly implemented with carbon fiber and EPO form, the main advantage of U-Lion is as follows:

Flying mode

The design adopt reconfigurable wing and tail sitter structure, which combines the advantage of fixed wing plane and rotor helicopter effectively. U-Lion has a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) ability and could also fly in cruise mode such to realize long duration and long distance fly.

Vectoring thrust

The propulsion of U-Lion comes from a self-fabricated contra rotating motor. The maximum thrust provided by the motor can be as high as 40N. The motor is fixed on a gimbal mechanism which can change the direction of the motor, or the thrust. The vectoring thrust controls the six degree of motion in VTOL mode and also acts as additional control in cruise fly mode

Internal mechanism design

U-Lion has a few special internal designs: (1) Reconfigurable wings: the wings are reconfigurable to adapt to different flying mode. (2) Adaptive center of gravity (CG): The battery can be moved through a pulley system thus to fulfill the different requirement of CG for VTOL mode and cruise fly mode. (3) Canard system: Two rotating canard wings are designed in the down flow areas of propellers to assist the yaw control in the VTOL mode.

Video Milestones

Autonomous (Rotor Wing) Category

Unconventional Design Category



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