International Aerial Robotics Competition
The first mission to move a metallic disc from one side of an arena to another with a completely autonomous flying robot was seen by many as almost impossible. The college teams continued to improve their entries over the next two years when the competition saw its first autonomous takeoff, flight, and landing by a team from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Three years later in 1995 a team from Stanford University was able to acquire a single disk and move it from one side of the arena to the other in a fully autonomous flight - half a decade earlier than some pundits had predicted.
Below is a video from PBS' Scientific American Frontiers with Alan Alda. (Season 7, episode 5, "RoboFlyers") Alda visited the IARC in 1995 and his camera crew was present when Stanford University completed Mission 1.