International drone competition set to return to Wales

An international drone competition will return to North Wales this June, supported by the Welsh Government and a home team competing from Glyndwr University.

Organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Challenge is a drone design competition aimed at students and will attract 32 global teams.

The three-day challenge will take place between June 16-18 at Snowdonia Aerospace Centre in Llanbedr, part of the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone, and has grown in popularity over the past five years.

Colin Brown, chief executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “We are delighted the Welsh Government has taken this opportunity to support the competition.

“The Challenge brings leading-edge drone technology to North Wales, which will raise the area’s aerospace profile internationally and help develop the regional skills base.”

Snowdonia Aerospace Centre sports a range of cutting-edge facilities and has emerged as a well-known drone testing site, giving undergraduates an opportunity to work on real-world aerospace projects.   

Economy Minister Ken Skates said: “Welsh Government is pleased to be sponsoring this year’s UAS Challenge. This is an exciting sector with a growing presence in an ever-changing world, and such high-profile events are a fantastic opportunity to showcase the world class test and evaluation facilities we have here in Wales.

“Snowdonia Enterprise Zone’s Llanbedr site is a prime example of that, offering the perfect environment for the further development of unmanned systems and emerging technologies, and I look forward to us welcoming university teams there from across the world in June.”

Another key aspect of the competition is an educational STEM outreach programme for school children, backed by Gwynedd Council. Pupils will attend a dedicated STEM day and take part in activities to encourage their interest in engineering.

Councillor Ioan Thomas, who leads on economic development for Gwynedd Council, added: “We are delighted to be sponsoring STEM activities for local school pupils once again at this year’s IMecheE UAS Challenge.

“At last year’s event, young people were able to take part in engineering activities, and speak to engineering teams from universities across the world – we hope this year’s STEM activities will build on that success, and hope to include provision for primary-aged children.”