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Informational Only

This challenge is no longer accepting new submissions.

Safeguard with Autonomous Navigation Demonstration

Help build tomorrow’s airspace, today.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Type of Challenge: Technology demonstration
Partner Agencies | Non-federal: National Institute of Aerospace
Submission Start: 09/23/2019 5:00 PM ET
Submission End: 11/30/2019 11:59 PM ET

This challenge is externally hosted.

You can view the challenge details here:


The Safeguard with Autonomous Navigation Demonstration (SAND) Challenge will be an opportunity for small businesses to compete in an autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle competition. The challenge will address some of the safety critical risks associated with flying UAVs in the National Airspace system (NAS): 1) flight outside of approved airspace and 2) unsafe Proximity to people or property.

Beyond visual line of sight operations (BVLOS) is the holy grail of UAV operations. The stretch goal of the SAND challenge is to demonstrate that UAVs integrated with NASA Langley’s patented geo-fencing technology, Safeguard, can operate safely beyond visual line of sight in the NAS. NASA Langley’s patented Safeguard technology is designed to assuredly address the aforementioned safety critical risks and will fly onboard the competitor’s vehicle while navigating the competition course. Safeguard is NASA’s patented aviation quality geo-fencing technology. Safeguard is a verified and validated independent system that uses real-time data about the position of a UAV to determine its proximity to a set of pre-defined and pre-loaded lateral boundaries and an altitude limit.

The SAND Challenge will demonstrate the successful integration of the NASA Safeguard technology in the context of a post-natural disaster scenario amidst critical infrastructure. The SAND Challenge will be held in May of 2020 in Hampton, Virginia.

The primary objectives of the SAND Challenge are:

  • To demonstrate safe operations of autonomous UAVs amidst critical infrastructure in a simulated post-natural disaster scenario using NASA Langley’s Safeguard Technology to stakeholders, the emerging UAV industry, and the public.
  • To collect post competition data from Safeguard for further analysis that may inspire new regulatory policies that support expanded use of commercial UAV systems.
  • To inform regulatory stakeholders including federal, state, and local governments on the potential operational benefits of integrating NASA Langley’s Safeguard Technology to UAVs to aid first responders in natural disasters events.
  • To engage the emerging UAV operator market to the value proposition of NASA Langley’s Safeguard Technology and its potential use cases for commercialization and licensing.

The small business competitors will develop their own autonomous logic implemented on their drones to provide surveillance and identification of key targets in a simulated post-natural disaster scene. A preliminary description of the SAND Competition Course will be provided on the SAND Demonstration website by October 15, 2019. The NASA Langley patented Safeguard technology will be flown as a stand-alone payload mounted on the drone. Details on the integration of the Safeguard technology can be found in Safeguard/SMART-04-002 Interface Control Document for Safeguard Units on the SAND2020 website which will be posted on the website by October, 15 2019.

Please visit for key dates, official rules and requirements, judging criteria, and instructions on how to enter.