A-Hack-of-the-Drones 2018

Commercial off-the-shelf, small, unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) have become ubiquitous, and the potential threat they represent in the hands of actors ranging from lone wolf terrorists to state-sponsored operatives, grows daily. The recent attempted assassination of Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro using sUAS with explosive payloads represents the natural evolution of this threat and highlights the pressing need for technology and solutions to effectively counter these systems, while diminishing the risk to innocent bystanders.

MD5, in collaboration with Army Futures Command, will host A-Hack-of-the-Drones 2018 at Capital Factory in downtown Austin, TX from September 28 – 30, 2018.

We’re looking for developers, designers, and hackers from the academic, military, and commercial start-up communities to come together for a weekend to explore non-traditional, innovative methods to counter sUAS. We’ll focus on four areas:

  • Detection of sUAS operating in waypoint mode (i.e. not actively broadcasting/communicating)
  • Novel Cyber Effects for undetected exploitation of the sUAS system, including the operator
  • Nullification of the sUAS’s ability to perform its mission without destroying the system
  • Elimination of a sUAS threat that has defeated all other cyber and electronic warfare counter-measures while minimizing risk to bystanders

Challenge area experts and technical mentors will be available to work with teams to develop their concepts. MD5 will procure a small fleet of representative commercial drones for teams to tinker with.

Top teams will win up to $15,000 in awards to further develop their concept in collaboration with MD5!


Participation is open to all individuals over 18 years in age. Teams are welcome, but each member needs to register as an individual.

Winning teams receive the opportunity for funding to further develop or demonstrate solution. Any recipient of funding must have the ability to legally perform work in the United States of America.


Teams will submit a PowerPoint presentation of their solution to DevPost by 10:30 am on Sunday, September 30, 2018.

Teams will also have an assigned table in the hackathon space on the 5th floor of Capital Factory to display their solution, which must be set up by 10:30 am on Sunday, September 30, 2018.

Hackathon Sponsors


$45,000 in prizes

Up to $15,000 contract for follow-on development (3)

Up to 3 teams will be selected to receive a follow-on contract for up to $15,000 each to develop their solutions.

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter

This is an in-person event to be held at the Capital Factory in downtown Austin, TX. To participate, register on Evenbrite at https://hackofthedrones.eventbrite.com.

To be considered for judging, all concepts need to be submitted on Devpost along with identifying your team members.

Participant information is available here.


General John "Mike" Murray

General John "Mike" Murray
Commanding General Army Futures Command

Dr. Paul Goldbart

Dr. Paul Goldbart
Dean, College of Natural Sciences, University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Phil Perconti

Dr. Phil Perconti
Director, Army Research Laboratory

Ms. Leigh Christie, J.D.

Ms. Leigh Christie, J.D.
Senior Vice President, Global Technology and Innovation, Austin Chamber of Commerce

Chief Warrant Officer James "Jimmy" Harris

Chief Warrant Officer James "Jimmy" Harris
United States Army Special Operations Command Concepts Development Division

Ms. Samantha Snabes

Ms. Samantha Snabes
CEO, re:3D

Ms. Doreen Lorenzo

Ms. Doreen Lorenzo
Assistant Dean, School of Design and Creative Technologies, University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Steve Cambone

Dr. Steve Cambone
Associate Vice Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System and Professor of Practice in the College of Engineering of Texas A&M University

Judging Criteria

  • Judging Procedures
    The first round of judging will be science fair style at 11 am on Sunday. Five Finalists will be selected based on categories 1-3 below to make final presentations at 2 pm on Sunday. Up to three winners will be selected based on categories 1-4 below.
  • 1. Impact (30%)
  • Impact - Problem Statement
    How well defined is the problem scope?
  • Impact - Problem Alignment
    How well does the Problem Statement align with the Challenge Statement and focus areas?
  • Impact - Need, DoD
    How significant is the DoD need for the proposed solution? What benefit does it provide over the status quo?
  • Impact - Need, Private Sector
    How significant is the private sector need for the proposed solution? What benefit does it provide over the status quo?
  • 2. Team Membership and Execution (20%)
  • Team Membership and Execution - Diversity of Team Members
    How diverse are the team members’ experience levels, skills, and backgrounds?
  • Team Membership and Execution - Hack Journey
    How well did you incorporate new information learned at the hackathon into your solution? How did you use this information to iterate to improved approaches?
  • Team Membership and Execution - Customer Engagement
    How well did you engage with hackathon mentors and subject matter experts?
  • 3. Product/Service (30%)
  • Product/Service - Description
    How well do you describe your product or service, its beneficial features, and how it is different?
  • Product/Service - Applicability
    How well does the proposed solution work in anticipated operating conditions?
  • Product/Service - Practicality for Stakeholders
    How practical is the solution for all stakeholders (not just end users)?
  • Product/Service - Resources required at deployment
    How reasonable are the resources required to deploy the proposed solution?
  • Product/Service - Technical Feasibility
    How credible is the scientific basis for the proposed solution?
  • Product/Service - Innovative approach
    Is your approach based on out-of-date technologies or ground-breaking ideas?
  • 4. Go-Forward Plan (20%)
  • Go-Forward Plan - Award potential
    What additional benefit could your solution provide with a $15K award?
  • Go-Forward Plan - Post-award investment potential
    What additional benefit could your solution provide with investment beyond the $15K award?
  • Go-Forward Plan - Startup potential
    Is there opportunity for startup company formation?
  • Go-Forward Plan - Future technical risk narrative
    How well are risks analyzed and addressed, and how well are weaknesses mitigated?

Questions? Email the hackathon manager

Tell your friends

Hackathon sponsors

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.