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[Defense Minister’s Cup Dronebot Contest 2022] Good command of ‘all-weather drone’ with calloused hands

[Defense Minister’s Cup Dronebot Contest 2022] Goo

When you wear the drone racing player’s ‘First Person View (FPV) Goggles,’ you can feel a thrill through your whole body that could only come from boarding a drone that flies at a speed of 200 kilometers per hour. When you pass by an obstacle on the second floor while performing flips, you can feel a sense of excitement overwhelming you, as if you were on a roller coaster. The ‘Defense Minister’s Cup Dronebot Contest 2022,’ which was held as part of the ‘K-Military Festival’ to mark the 75th anniversary of the Armed Forces Day, consists of four events, including ‘Drone Racing,’ ‘Drone Soccer,’ ‘Popdrone Battle,’ and ‘Defense Robot Contest.’ About 300 participants teamed up and battled based on their drones and robot operating technology.



Like boarding a drone flying at a speed of 200 kilometers per hour


Drone racing was held outdoors amid a fair amount of rain, which showed the operational feasibility of our military’s all-weather drones. When the drone camera was blurred by raindrops or wet grass leaves in the middle of the game, the participant soldiers quickly used their skills to remove the foreign materials.


As the name of the game implies, a drone racing game is a score-based game to measure how fast a drone completes the given course. If the drone cannot pass through obstacles, such as pennants and gates, according to the given rule, five seconds per obstacle are added as penalty points. The player not only needs to make decisions faster, but must also be equipped with precise manipulation skill.


For this competition, a drone needs to make three laps around the course on which 13 obstacles are set. The participants wore FPV goggles to play the game. Watching the competition, it was clear that we are already closer to having a strong military backed by science and technology. As the operator manages the controller with a practiced hand while his eyes remain covered, visitors could guess how hard the operator had been practicing and training.


Master Sergeant (promoted) Bae Jae-young, an instructor in the drone education center of the Army Infantry School who participated in the drone racing game, had many calluses on his thumbs. Yet he ignores these and has been working on improving his manipulation skill. Bae hoped that drone racing would spread in the military, considering its advantage of allowing the participant to experience every part from production to maintenance and manipulation, saying that “the racing drone game depends only on the operator’s operation skills, without the help of any auxiliary device, such as GPS or autonomous navigation.”


Bae also came up with an idea of how to use racing drones in the military while talking about his experience in demonstrating ignition in flight by mounting a smoke bomb onto a racing drone, saying “it is possible to achieve a precision strike on a target that is indoors by mounting an explosive onto a racing drone.”


Bae took third place in the drone racing contest, in which 37 people participated in the individual competition. Corporal Han Dong-rok of the Army 8th Corps, who was a player on the national drone racing team before joining the army, took first place, while Action Officer Hong Hee-young of the Marine Corps Logistic Group, who was making his debut in dronebot-related contests, took second place.


Han, whose duties involve maintenance on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), expressed his satisfaction with the fact that the military has set enough conditions to develop the special abilities and careers of individual officers, and his gratitude to the unit for its support of his participation in the contest.


Hong, who enjoys drone racing as a hobby, said that there is a growing interest in and support for the use of drones in the Marine Corps, and that he hopes to play a greater role in this area.



Four events, including racing and pop drone battle

About 300 participants join individual or team game

Participants use their high level of skill to manipulate drones, including through quick turns, despite their view being blurred by raindrops and wet grass leaves


Continued private-public-military interest and cooperation is important to develop manned-unmanned teams



Drone Bingo, ‘Pop Drone Battle’


The Pop Drone Battle is a bingo game that uses drones. Nine stages arranged with three rows and three columns turn blue or red when they are touched by a drone's hard landing. When all the nine stages turn to one color, the team of the color achieves a ‘perfect’ win. If there is no perfect win, scores are calculated after a one-minute battle. One point is given for each stage. Like a bingo game, an additional three points are given when a player completes three stages connecting as row, column, and diagonal.


The game was played by the blue team and the red team, which had two drones each. The two teams had an exciting match, showing keen body battle and swift stage touch skills.


Corporal Shin Sung-ho of the Capital Corps, who participated in the Pop Drone Battle game, achieved a perfect win by swiftly touching all stages while the other team member was keeping the drones of the opposing team in check, and carried his team to victory in the quarter-finals. Having participated in related contests including drone soccer before joining the army, Corporal Shin Sung-ho continued this career in the military.


“The Pop Drone Battle game requires precise operation skill in order to quickly land on a desired stage in a narrow place. It would be useful for practicing the operation ability to conduct reconnaissance on a narrow indoor area, as well as a complex section of the city, using a drone,” Shin commented.


The Pop Drone Battle game features simple rules and a high level of accessibility. Even beginning players can try the game. The game was a success, with the participation of 56 teams, the largest number of teams to ever join the contest, including 30 from the Army, two from the Navy, seven from the Air Force, one from the Marine Corps, and 16 civilian teams.


On the military side, the team of Master Sergeant Yoon Hee-dae and Master Sergeant Kim Jong-myung of the Army 2nd Corps, the team of Warrant Officer Park Seong-sun and Corporal Shin Sung-ho of the Capital Corps, and the team of Master Sergeant Ahn Yoon-seong and Master Sergeant Yang Taek-gil of the Army 27th Infantry Division won the top award, an excellence award, and an incentive award, respectively.



A place for private-public-military communication for the promotion of the Defense Reform 4.0 initiative


At the Drone Soccer game, two teams operate five ball drones each. You score when the striker ball drone goes through the opponent’s goal net. The team that earns the highest score in the three-minute game will win.


This year's game was the first to allow the participation of cadets, who will play a leading role in building the future strong military backed by science and technology, adding another level of significance. Cadets belonging to four military academies, including the Korea Military Academy, the Republic of Korea Naval Academy, the Republic of Korea Air Force Academy, and the Korea Army Academy at Yeongcheon, developed their understanding of drones over the past month to take on the new challenge of drone soccer, and had an opportunity to brush up on their abilities. In the match between cadets, the Korea Military Academy, the Republic of Korea Air Force, and the Korea Army Academy at Yeongcheon took first to third place, in that order.


To win the championship in this contest, the Korea Army Academy team wore an advanced kit with a remaining battery level gauge on their arms and prepared in multiple areas ranging from basic operation to a practice game with a private drone soccer team. Captain Kim Jun-seop, who guided the cadets of the Korea Military Academy, expressed his hope that “the cadets will be able to greatly help the operation of the future Army Tiger unit by having the opportunity to actually use fourth industrial revolution technology.”


A total of 19 teams participated in the Drone Soccer game. In the soldier part, Army 2nd Corps’ ‘Ssangyong’ team, Army Capital Corps’ ‘Black Falcon’ team, and Army 27th Infantry Division’s ‘Team Winion’ won the top award, an excellence award, and an incentive award, respectively. At the ‘Defense Robot Contest,’ in which a participant controls a self-made robot and its military applicability is evaluated, Korea University of Technology and Education’s gazette team, Kwangwoon University’s robot team, and Kookmin University’s KUDOS team won the top award, an excellence award, and an incentive award, respectively.


“This is the first year of the ‘Defense Minister’s Cup Dronebot Contest,’ and I hope it can establish itself as a place for private-public-military communication to push forward with the Defense Reform 4.0 initiative and nurture a strong military backed by AI-based science and technology,” said Yoo Mu-bong, chief of the Office of Defense Reform, who handed out awards that day, stressing the “importance of continued private-public-military interest and cooperation to develop manned-unmanned teams based on advanced science and technology.

 By Chae-Mu, Im < >

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