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 training 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 both remote control piloting and indoor flight using cameras and AprilTags for position orientation in a GPS denied environment. Teams will also modify the kit to add autonomy, actuation and LED components to prepare for Phase 2.

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.

Note to the Senior Class:  Points will be awarded for the progress and performance that are achieved during the Spring activities in Phase 1. Even though graduating Seniors will be gone for the Fall Phase 2 competition, their Phase 1 leadership and point contributions will have a significant impact on the total points for a winning team.   

Key Dates for Revised Schedule

  • March 20 – Registration Closes for 2021 VRC
  • March 27 – VRC Teacher Training (Live & Virtual)
  • April 10 – Distribution of Drone Kits
  • 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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