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Team Aero-Watt

At Team Aero-Watt we design, test and manufacture autonomous unmanned aircraft to take part in the IMechE UAS challenge. Taking 3rd place and highest-placed new entrant in our debut year and creating the first successful vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft to appear at the competition the following year, then winning the media and engagement award in 2023, we're making a return to the IMechE's UAS Challenge 2024.

As a team of 20 engineering, robotics and computing students from Heriot-Watt University, we are striving to continue with our successes this year with an all-new design which we hope can propel us onto the podium.


Year 4 - 2023/24

We are in our design phase right now: planning, building, and testing different designs. Our design will be similar to our last year but with a few notable differences. The wing will be mounted higher on the fuselage to allow a single carbon fibre spar to be used, with the payload slung underneath.

We also plan on making a V-Tail design which reduces drag and weight for similar performance to a traditional T tail.


We are currently looking into our methodologies for creating the outer surface of the UAS. Using carbon fibre composites, and wire cut foam as a mold


Year 3 - 2022/23

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During the 2022/2023 academic year, our team developed a 3-meter fixed-wing aircraft, achieving a rapid takeoff within 10 meters due to a thrust-to-weight ratio of 1.4. Incorporating high lift devices like flaps and slats enhanced this capability. Despite minor software glitches, we excelled, ranking third in the UK and fifth globally. Our achievements were recognized with the prestigious media award.


Year 2 - 2021/22

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During the 2021/22 academic year, we developed our second entry into the IMechE UAS competition from the ground up, building on what had been learnt the previous year as well as implementing many new advanced features. Despite the inclusion of vertical take-off system we managed to cut the airframe weight by 35% from last year, greatly improving on our flight time and payload capacity. This UAS was our first to be capable of flying fully autonomously.


Year 1 - 2020/21


Over the 2020/21 academic year, we developed our pioneering entry into the IMechE UAS competition, with the whole team learning from scratch how to design and build an autonomous aircraft. Despite the challenges imposed due to the global pandemic we successfully built and flew our fixed wing design, which was very well received at the fly-off event.

UAS Challenge

Run by the IMechE, the UAS Challenge involves teams of students from around the world who fully design and build an unmanned aircraft weighing up to 10kg.

Each team is judged on criteria from the design, development and demonstration stages with the final event containing a 'fly-off'and business case presentations which also contribute to the team score.

Benefits for Students:

  • Practical engineering skills applicable to the aerospace industry and beyond

  • Work with mentors from leading aerospace organisations to support you on the project

  • Gain real-world engineering experience for your CV

  • Develop connections and network with like-minded students and industry representatives

Click for more info:

UAS Challenge

Student FAQs

We have compiled a list of FAQs, however, if you have further questions please email your query direct to


Get In Touch!

For more info find us on social media, fill out the form below or email us at


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