Bell Vertical Robotics Competition

70+ Years of Inspiring Students

The future of flight is evolving and so are STEM-based competitions. The 2021 BELL Vertical Robotics Competition (BELL VRC) will include students representing high schools from across Texas (and beyond) with three regional competition events (two in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and one in the Austin area) with each event having 20 high school teams participating. These teams, typically comprised of 8-12 students led by coaches, mentors, and teachers; will design, build, and test their solutions to achieve the competition 2021 Search & Rescue Challenge.

This is Not Your Typical Drone Competition

  • Competition of the Mind and Maker
  • Combining Both Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Ground Based Robotics
  • Multiple Skill Sets required to optimize design solutions for Robotics, Actuation, Mechanisms, Coding and Autonomy to achieve the mission
  • On-Demand Mobility to Simulate Moving Payload, People and Packages

Competition Events Include

  • Integration of Autonomous Ground and Flight Operation
  • Drone Piloting and Driver Control of Multiple Ground Robots
  • Team Logistics and Critical Thinking for Search & Rescue Mission
  • Team Presentations

All-Inclusive Pricing

Each team registration is $4,000 collected through

This all-inclusive registration fee provides teams with a complete kit for aerial and ground robotics, Teacher/Mentor Orientation sessions, and the competition event.


Due to ongoing COVID factors, the plan for the 2021 Bell Vertical Robotics Competition has been revised to be a two-phase event as follows:

Phase 1: April 10–May 15

Drone Kit Build - Five Weeks to Assemble & Flight Test

Teams will assemble and test the VRC Drone Kit which will include flight testing for indoor remote control piloting.  Teams will also build and ground test the Peripheral Control Computer (PCC) to activate LEDs and Servo Actuators to prepare for the Phase 2 Search & Rescue Challenge in the Fall.

Phase 2: September 25 – November 5

Competition REVEAL - 6 Weeks to Design, Build and Test Solutions... then COMPETE!

  • Teams will design, manufacture and test their creative solutions for both the drone and the ground vehicles to take on the Search and Rescue challenge.
  • Teams will engage in Design, 3-D Printing/Fabrication, Electronics, Coding for Autonomy, Systems Integration, Kinematics, Piloting, Project Management and Critical Thinking
  • Teamwork will include Drone Piloting and Driver Control of Multiple Ground Robots which will require 8 to 10 students to participate and coordinate in any given competition round.
  • Team Presentations will be required and judged on competition day

Note to the Senior Class:  During Phase 1, all Seniors on the team are encouraged to participate in the Senior Design Project.  The project will require Seniors to document and present their  design, trade studies and testing for some of the critical VRC Drone components required for the Phase 2 – Search & Rescue Challenge.  Even though Seniors will be graduating after Phase 1, their leadership and contribution to the Senior Design Project will have a significant impact on the success of their team in the Fall.

Key Dates for Revised Schedule

  • March 27 – VRC Teacher/Mentor Orientation (Virtual using Microsoft Teams)
  • April 10 – Kickoff Event with all students, teachers, coaches and mentors (Virtual using Microsoft Teams)
  • April 11 – May 15 – Phase 1: Drone Kit Build & Flight Test

Summer Break – VRC Drones will be Bagged & Secured until Phase 2

  • September 25 – Kick Off Competition REVEAL
  • September 26 – November 5 – Phase 2: Design, Build & Test Solutions for Competition

Key Dates for Competition Events

  • November 6, 2021 – Competition Event in Austin
  • November 12-13, 2021 – Competition Events at University of Texas - Arlington
  • December 4, 2021 – Winners Playoff Event at a location TBD.
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