Qualifying Criteria for Aerial Drone Competition Events

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Event Types


Events that have Qualification and Elimination Matches for Aerial Drone Competitions.


Events that have Ranking Sessions for teams to play Qualifying Matches, and then a League Finals Session to determine the League Champions. Ranking Sessions are a way for teams to be scheduled over multiple days at different venues, with different teams participating in each of those venues. Match data from all ranking sessions are combined in order to create qualification rankings for the League Finals.

Event Criteria

NOTE: From time to time, the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation may make an exception to one of these criteria to better support a growing State and/or Region.

For events (Tournaments or Leagues) to be official and have results posted on RobotEvents.com, they must meet the following criteria.

Registration & Event Requirements

    1. Events must be listed as a Tournament or a League with online registration posted on RobotEvents.com. Events must be visible and open to registration at least 4 weeks before the start date. All attending teams must be registered and paid on RobotEvents.com for the current season.
    2. Official events must follow the rules and guidelines in these documents and manuals:
      • Competition Manual including Inspection and Event guidelines
      • Judge Guide including judging rubrics
      • Referee Guide
      • Commitment to Event Excellence
      • Code of Conduct and Student-Centered Policy
    3. Events must have at least 12 registered teams. 
      • League ranking sessions may have less than 12 teams participating if the League has 12 registered teams.
    4. Events must offer all 4 Missions:
      • Teamwork Mission
      • Piloting Skills Mission
      • Autonomous Flight Skills Mission
      • Communication Mission
    5. Teamwork missions must have a minimum of 4 Qualification Matches per Team.
      • The suggested number of Qualification Matches per Team for a tournament is 6 - 8.
      • Championship events must have 8 - 10 Qualification matches.
    6. All teams must be given the opportunity to run up to 2 Piloting Skills Matches and up to 6 Autonomous Flight Skills Challenges.
    7. All teams must be given the opportunity to be interviewed for judged awards, and additionally all official award descriptions, criteria, and rubrics must be followed.
      • At a League, Judging should occur during the last day/final league session
    8. Finalized Tournament Manager results (Tournament and League Final Sessions) must be uploaded/finalized within 48 hours of event completion.


  • All Qualifying Events are required to offer 3 judged awards:
    • Excellence, Flight Operations, and Judges
  • Events with 18 or more teams are recommended to offer all 5 judged awards:
    • Excellence, Flight Operations, Think, Inspire, and Judges.
  • Events with 10 or more High School teams AND 10 or more Middle School teams are recommended to offer 2 Excellence and 2 Skills Champions awards, one for each grade level (i.e., one for High School and one for Middle School)

Dates and Deadlines

Official events must abide by the following dates and deadlines:

  1. Events must occur between September 30, 2023, and March 17, 2024.
  2. Posting Deadline: Events must be approved by December 1, 2023. The REC Foundation may waive this requirement when needed.
  3. Events approved after December 1, 2023, may receive fewer spots to an Event Region Championship based on availability.

Aerial Drone Competition Regional Championships

Teams are assigned to regions and will be invited to the Regional Championship of their assigned region as shown on the map below.


Region Included States
Northeast Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia
Southeast Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
South Central Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
North Central Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, South Dakota
West Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

Aerial Drone Competition Regional Championship Dates and Locations

Championship Region Location City, State Date
Northeast Fairmont State University Fairmont, West Virginia May 17 - May 18, 2024
Southeast Mississippi Coliseum Jackson, Mississippi April 12 - April 13, 2024
North Central Kettering University Flint, Michigan May 17 - May 18, 2024
South Central Tulsa Community College School of Science and Aeronautics Tulsa, Oklahoma April 19 - April 20, 2024
West Legacy Event Center Salt Lake City, Utah May 31 - June 1, 2024
JROTC National Championship Batesville Civic Center Batesville, MS April 4 - April 6, 2024
Middle School Only Championship* University of Tennessee - Chattanooga  Tennessee May 16 - 17, 2024

*For the 2023-2024 season, Middle School teams have the option of registering for and attending the Championship in their assigned region OR attending the Middle School Only Championship in Tennessee.

Aerial Drone Competition Regional Championship Registration and Payment Deadlines

  • Teams that qualify for an Aerial Drone Regional Championship on or before February 29, 2024, will have four weeks to register and pay by credit card, check or PO for the Championship event.   
  • Teams that qualify for an Aerial Drone Regional Championship on or after March 1, 2024, will have two weeks to register and pay by credit card, check or PO for the Championship event.
  • Teams that do not pay by the above deadlines may be moved to the waiting list of the event at the event partner’s discretion.

Local Qualifying Event Spot Allocation

The Spot Allocation is the number of spots assigned to an event to qualify teams to an Event Regional Championship. Spot Allocation is dependent on:

  • Capacity of the Event Region Championship
  • Number of teams in each state of the Region
  • Number of qualifying events in an Event Region
  • Size of each qualifying event

The REC Foundation Manager will ultimately determine the allocation each qualifying event is assigned within an Event Region.

  • Large events may be allocated more spots than smaller events. Events of the same size within the same state should expect to have the same number of spots.

Local Qualifying Event Double Qualification Process

If a team double qualifies (wins multiple qualifying awards) at a local qualifying event, an Event Region Championship invitation will be awarded to the next highest team on the Skills Mission ranking list at that event who did not win a qualifying award at that event.

  • If every team on the Skills Mission ranking list at the event has won a qualifying award at the event, the spot will be saved and awarded at the end of the season to the next highest non-qualified team from the World Skills List in that Event Region.
  • There are no lookbacks to previous events to see if a team has previously qualified.

Teams competing at a local qualifying event that are from outside that Event Region are eligible to receive any performance-based or judged awards offered at the event and should be treated identically to teams from within that Event Region. However, any qualification spot to that Event Region Championship associated with an award that is given to an out-of-region team will go to the next highest non-qualified team from within that Event Region on the Skills ranking at that event.

Aerial Drone Competition Regional Championship Qualification

There are four ways for teams to qualify to an Event Region Championship: 

  • Qualifying Award
    • Winning a qualifying award at an official event in the team’s Event Region. 
  • Skills Ranking
    • If there is remaining capacity for an Event Regional Championship after the qualifying events have been finalized, teams will receive an invitation on March 18, 2024, based upon the following:
      • Using the Worlds Skills list to ensure that each state has representation.
      • Using the Worlds Skills list sorted for the Event Region for that Championship.
  • Waitlist
    • If there is remaining capacity due to teams not accepting a formal invitation, the Event Region Championship capacity may be lowered or teams may be invited from the Waitlist. Teams will be selected by the REC Foundation by considering various factors including on-field performance, awards won, location, and/or availability.
  • Online Challenges

Some online challenge winners will earn invitations to an Aerial Drone Championship. See the Online Challenge Website for details.

Spots to Aerial Drone Competition Championship Events

  • Official Tournaments and Leagues with at least 12 registered teams will be assigned spots.  The  number of spots at each event are determined by the REC Foundation Aerial Drone Competition Support team.  When determining the number of spots to allocated at each event, the following is considered:  # of teams, # of events in each state/region and size of the championship event. 
  • Around January 12, 2024, the REC Foundation Aerial Drone Competition Support Team may award additional/invitations spots be allocated based on team registrations and number of events.

Aerial Drone Competition Spot Levels 

Spot Level Excellence Award Tournament Champions Skills Champion Tournament Finalists Flight Operations Award Think Award
1 1          
3 1 2        
4 1 2 1      
6 1 2 1 2    
7 1 2 1 2 1  
8 1 2 1 2 1 1

*Aerial Drone Competition Spot Levels - If the event has more than 10 Middle School teams and 10 High School teams registered we will recognize two Excellence Award winners (one Middle and one High School).

NOTE: From time to time, the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation may make an exception to one of these criteria to better support a growing State and/or Region.

Questions? Reach out to drones@roboticseducation.org

Last updated January 26, 2024