Mohamed Bin Zayed International

Robotics Challenge 2020

The Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge (MBZIRC) is an international robotics competition held by the Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, with a prize pool and team sponsorship worth of 5 Million USD. Following our team's great success in the previous round (2017), we were heading to the next finals in February 2020 with the highest ambitions. The competition is fierce, as only 31 teams out of 200 managed to advance into the finals.

We won the 1st place in Grand Challenge, 1st place in Challenge 2
and 2nd place in Challenge 1

The Competition and Preparations

Rehearsals and Competition

The MBZIRC 2020 competition took place in Abu Dhabi during 23-25 February 2020 preceded by three days of rehearsals. We successfully competed in all disciplines. In Challenge 1, three drones were supposed to pop balloons and catch a ball carried by foreign UAV following a 3D trajectory. We placed 2nd in the Challenge 1. In Challenge 2, three UAVs and one UGV had to cooperatively build multiple walls. We won the wall building challenge and got the US$250,000 price money. Challenge 3 consisted of outdoor and indoor fires that the team of three UAVs and one UGV had to extinguish. We finished the fire fighting challenge at 4th place. Finally, due to our great results in all three challenges, we qualified to the Grand Challenge where all three challenges are combined together and solved simultaneously. We won the Grand Challenge among all teams from prestigious universities.

Videos from individual challenge trials taken by the CTU-UPenn-NYU team at the MBZIRC 2020 competition.

Video from Challenge 1
Video from Challenge 2
Video from Challenge 3

Pictures taken taken during the MBZIRC 2020 rehearsals and competition in Abu Dhabi UAE.

Last experimental camp in desert

The last preparation for the MBZIRC 2020 competition took place in the desert of UAE near Al Ain. All systems for the balloon popping and ball catching (challenge 1), brick picking and placing on a wall (challenge 2) and firefighting indoor and outdoors (challenge 3) were tested in much harder conditions than during the competition.

Pictures taken during the preparation for MBZIRC 2020 in UAE desert location

Competition overview

The MBZIRC 2020 challenges are motivated by pushing technological and application boundaries in robotics. The technological challenges addressed in the MBZIRC 2020 Challenges include, fast autonomous navigation in semi-unstructured, complex, dynamic environments, with reduced visibility (e.g. smoke) and minimal prior knowledge, robust perception and tracking dynamic objects in 3D, sensing and avoiding obstacles, GPS denied navigation in indoor-outdoor environments, physical interactions, complex mobile manipulations, and air-surface collaboration.

Challenge 1

A team of UAVs will autonomously track and interact with a set of objects (for example intruder UAVs) following 3D trajectories inside the arena. Challenge 1 is motivated by UAV safety, where the team UAVs will attempt to capture and neutralize intruder UAVs inside the arena.

Challenge 2

A team of UAVs and a UGV will collaborate to autonomously locate, pick, transport and assemble different types of brick shaped objects to build pre-defined structures, in an outdoor environment. Challenge 2 is motivated by construction automation and autonomous robot based 3D printing of large structures.

Challenge 3

A team of UAVs and a UGV will collaborate to autonomously extinguish a series of simulated fires in an urban high rise building firefighting scenario. Challenge 3 is motivated by the use of robots for urban firefighting, and requires the team of robots to collaborate to autonomously carry out a series of urban firefighting related tasks in an outdoor-indoor environment.

The Grand Challenge

A triathlon-style event combining all three previous challenges, which are to be solved simultaneously.


The team

Team members

  • Czech Technical University (CTU)

    • Dr. Martin Saska - Team Lead, Senior Researcher
    • Dr. Petr Štěpán - Senior Researcher
    • Dr. Tomáš Krajník - Senior Researcher
    • Tomáš Báča - PhD Student
    • Vojtěch Spurný - PhD Student
    • Robert Pěnička - PhD Student
    • Viktor Walter - PhD Student
    • Daniel Heřt - Research Fellow
    • Matěj Petrlík - PhD Student
    • Matouš Vrba - PhD Student
    • Petr Štibinger - PhD Student
    • George Broughton - PhD Student
    • David Žaitlík - Research Fellow
    • Yurii Stasinchuk - Undergraduate Student & Research Fellow
    • Václav Pritzl - Master Student
    • Jan Bednář - Master Student
    • Filip Majer - Master Student
    • Daniel Smrčka - Master Student
  • University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)

    • Dinesh Thakur - Research Specialist
    • Alex Zhou - Research Staff
  • New York University (NYU)

    • Dr. Giuseppe Loianno - Assistant Professor
    • Anthony Wang - Research Staff
    • Kshitij Jindal - Research Staff
  • SoftServe, Inc. (associtated partner)

    • Olha Hrytsay, Director of Robotics and Advanced Technology Programs
    • Roman Hrubnyk, Principal Data Scientist
    • Dr. Lyubomyr Demkiv, Robotics Lead
    • Andriy Kusyy, Lead Data Scientist
    • Marko Kostiv, Lead Data Scientist
    • Markiian Matsiuk, Robotics Engineer
    • Nikita Kiselov, Robotics Engineer
    • Oleh Datsiv, ML Engineer
    • Danylo Snahoshchenko, ML Engineer
    • Yuriy Pryyma, Data Scientist


Our team aims to compete in all three listed challenges. This section contains our progress video reports documenting our advances in solving the challenges.



MRS highlights from MBZIRC 2017

Fastest fully autonomous landing on a moving car during the entire competition.
System verification in challenging desert environment prior to the competition.
Highest score in autonomous grasping of magnetic objects by a team of UAVs.

Featured technologies

Hunting an intruder drone with autonomous UAV.
Aggressive flight with suspended payloads using vision-based control.
Robust stereo visual inertial odometry for fast autonomous flight.

Media coverage of our MBZIRC 2020 participation:

Události ČT: Mezinárodní kybernetická soutěž s účastí Čechů Česká televize [Czech]
Studio 6: České drony obhajují vítězství v SAE Česká televize [Czech]
Tým ČVUT se v únoru zúčastní mezinárodní soutěže dronů v Abú Zabí České noviny [Czech]
České autonomní drony budou soutěžit o milion dolarů Prima [Czech]
Drony z FEL ČVUT v Praze budou v Abú Dhabí obhajovat vítězství a utkají se o hlavní cenu Magnet Press [Czech]
Drony z Fakulty elektrotechnické ČVUT v Praze budou obhajovat vítězství v Abu Dhabi Parlamentní listy [Czech]
Staví zdi i hasí. Drony z ČVUT budou soutěžit s elitou Česká televize (ČT24) [Czech]
Prague university team to fight in drone contest in Abu Dhabi Info.cz [English]
Studenti ČVUT předvedli, co umí autonomní drony. Za rok budou soutěžit v Abu Dhabi o milion dolarů SeznamZprávy [Czech]
CTU FEE full media coverage report CTU FEE [English]
CTU FEE full media coverage overview CTU FEE [English]