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The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) wants to advance the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in first responder search and rescue operations.

NIST initiated the First Responder UAS Triple Challenge, a prize competition focusing on UAS technology to support critical, life-saving missions. 

The Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) is designed to accelerate the development and adoption of advanced wireless communications for the public safety community.

UAS Search Optimized Challenge is focused on search and rescue operations using optical sensors and data analysis to improve image detection and location. 

More than $700,000 will be awarded in prizes throughout the three competitions, according to