UAS Test Site Named as Finalist in AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards

For Immediate Release: Monday, June 1, 2020
Robert Herschbach, Communications Manager,, 410-245-8959

Selection recognizes breakthrough flight delivering organ for transplant

ARLINGTON, Va. The University of Maryland UAS Test Site has been named a finalist in the XCELLENCE Awards by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI), in recognition of its achievement in conducting the first-ever delivery by UAS of a live organ for transplant. The Test Site, based in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, is among six finalists selected from a pool of more than 163 applicants for the Humanitarian category, which is sponsored by DJI.

“The AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards celebrate the achievements of individuals and organizations who have applied unmanned systems technology to create solutions to address a range of challenges affecting business and society,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI. “AUVSI is pleased to recognize these finalists for their perseverance and dedication to turn dreams into reality.”

The historic organ delivery conducted by the UMD UAS Test Site took place on April 19, 2019, in collaboration with the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), the UMD Aerospace Engineering department, and the Living Legacy Foundation. A specially designed unmanned aircraft, equipped with eight rotors, multiple powertrains and an emergency parachute system, flew across downtown Baltimore to deliver a kidney to surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center, who then conducted a successful transplant operation.

The flight, conducted after months of research and testing, represented a breakthrough that could jumpstart efforts to bring about safer, more reliable organ delivery through the use of UAS, as companies such as Baltimore-based MissionGO develop the approach further.

“We’re deeply honored to have been chosen as a finalist, and we’d like to thank both AUVSI and DJI for this recognition,” said Matt Scassero, director of the UMD UAS Test Site. “The organ flight was part of a larger commitment, both at the Test Site and at the University of Maryland generally, to exploring technological solutions that benefit the greater good, whether that means addressing societal challenges or helping to improve the quality of life for individuals.”

“The XCELLENCE Awards are especially significant to us because of AUVSI’s longstanding dedication to promoting humanitarian applications of UAS technology,” Scassero said.

Winners will be announced during the keynote session on Thursday, Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. CDT at AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2020 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.

The AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards honor individuals and organizations that are innovators in the unmanned systems industry, with a demonstrated commitment to advancing autonomy, leading and promoting safe adoption of unmanned systems, and developing programs that use these technologies to save lives and improve the human condition. Winners will be announced at XPONENTIAL, which offers a broad-based and balanced educational program brimming with cutting-edge content and inspirational insights, ranging from policy implications and technical challenges to use cases and best practices across vertical markets and everything in between.

“DJI is proud to recognize the AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards finalists, whose pioneering accomplishments highlight the critical role drones play in a wide variety of public safety and humanitarian applications, from directly saving lives through search and rescue missions to safely transporting life-saving deliveries in urgent times of need, and many more,” said Romeo Durscher, Senior Director of Public Safety Integration at DJI. “Their collective effort showcases the best of what can be achieved with drone technology today and will encourage innovators to push the boundaries for what’s possible with drone technology in the years to come.”

For media registration for XPONENTIAL, click here or contact Tom McMahon at For more information about XPONENTIAL and the XCELLENCE Awards,

# # #

About the UMD UAS Test Site

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site at the University of Maryland stands at the forefront of UAS rulemaking, commercialization, and national airspace integration. Formed in 2014, test site experts leverage their approximately 150 years of combined experience in military and civilian aviation, engineering, and project management to accelerate the safe, responsible application of UAS in public and private industries. For more information, visit


The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) — the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics — represents corporations and professionals from more than 60 countries involved in industry, government and academia. AUVSI members work in the defense, civil and commercial markets. For more information, visit

About DJI

DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, was founded and is run by people with a passion for remote-controlled helicopters and experts in flight-control technology and camera stabilization. The company is dedicated to making aerial photography and filmmaking equipment and platforms more accessible, reliable and easier to use for creators and innovators around the world. DJI’s global operations currently span across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and its revolutionary products and solutions have been chosen by customers in over 100 countries for applications in emergency response, filmmaking, construction, inspection, agriculture, conservation and other industries.


AUVSI XPONENTIAL is the largest, most significant event for the unmanned systems industry. The 2020 exhibit hall will showcase hundreds of cutting-edge companies from around the world and the conference will feature educational programming by unmanned systems experts, providing information about the future of policy, technology and business solutions and trending topics.