Medical Express Mission Map released

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The Transit Corridor (green), path through the waypoints (white) and Joe’s reported location.

The mission map for the 2016 UAV Challenge Medical Express has been released. Teams will have to retrieve Outback Joe’s blood sample from Springvale farm. The coordinates of Joe’s reported location, plus the location of the mission waypoints and GeoFence boundary can be found in this KMZ file (the link can also be found at the bottom of the Medical Express webpage). Remember that Joe’s actual location will be within 100m of his reported location and that teams that located him to within 20m of his actual location will be awarded 20 points.

Note to teams: your unmanned aircraft MUST cross the road between Waypoints 5 and 6 at a minimum altitude of 200 ft AGL).

Medical Express starts tomorrow

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Tridge and Jack (Canberra UAV) performing an engine test on one of their aircraft today at the Base.

No more waiting! Well, a tiny bit of waiting – just one sleep. Tomorrow will see the start of the 2016 UAV Challenge Medical Express competition. Ten teams have qualified from the original 60 teams that sent in their first technical report (known as Deliverable 1) back in September 2015. It has been an amazing year, seeing some teams develop new types of aircraft and new putting in a massive combined effort of many hundreds of dedicated team members. Anyone is welcome to come along and observe. If you can’t make it, then follow along by Liking this Facebook Page or following @uavchallenge on Twitter. Tomorrow is the day that the teams will show the industry scrutineers that their aircraft are safe to be released into their mission to recover Outback Joe’s blood sample. The UAV Challenge judges will also interview teams (interviews are scored!). The day’s briefing kicks off at 8am sharp! See you there (Dalby Model Aero Club, 743 Cecil Plains Road, Dalby, Queensland).

Dalby Drone Industry Forum opens

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The Drone Industry Forum has just kicked off in Dalby. The theme of the forum today is “Turning the Drone Opportunity into Reality”. The forum aims to dispel myths, raise awareness and facilitate networking across aviation and non-conventional aviation sectors and across industries such as agriculture, resources and local government. Current drone applications will be highlighted, propelling industries to see drones as ‘best practice’ rather than ‘future technology’.

The forum proudly hosted by Western Downs Regional Council, in conjunction with the UAV Challenge, and in partnership with the Queensland Department of State Development and Regional Development Australia.

There is a great list of speakers from across the industry. You can find the full agenda and list of speakers and topics on the forum website here.

What are the aims of Medical Express?

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The UAV Challenge Medical Express is now only a few days away. Teams are making their way to Dalby, Queensland from all over the world. But what are the aims of the competition and why did we create it the way we did?

The Medical Express mission and competition have been designed to extend the state-of-the-art in the following areas that will ultimately benefit the low-cost civilian unmanned aircraft industry:

  • Improved search algorithms (that can locate a person that is standing and is wearing normal clothes – i.e. a non-high visibility shirt).
  • Cheap and reliable ground-to-ground communications (between a GCS and a remotely landed unmanned aircraft) over a distance of at least 5.4 nautical miles.
  • Unmanned aircraft that can transit long distances and land and take off in a constrained area that is surrounded by obstacles. New hybrid platforms that are neither pure fixed-winged aircraft nor pure multi-rotors are likely to be required to complete the mission.
  • Fully automatic takeoff and landing systems that can operate in a remote location – not only at the GCS end.
  • On-board situational awareness of remote landing locations that are largely unknown to aircraft operators before a mission commences.

History – Outback Rescue

The first UAV Challenge was called the UAV Challenge Outback Rescue and involved teams undertaking a realistic Search and Rescue mission. The event took place from an open airport (with manned aircraft operating in concert with the competition’s unmanned aircraft), in a relatively remote location, with hot and windy weather and a requirement of a long transit flight to the search area. That Search and Rescue mission took seven years and six events to complete. Four teams completed the mission task in 2014 with a fifth team coming close. With the successful completion of the initial mission, it was time to consider a new mission that would push the boundaries of what low-cost civilian unmanned aircraft could achieve.

Good luck to all the Medical Express teams next week. It is your turn to create history.

Phantom Soldiers win the 2016 Airborne Delivery Challenge

heroPhantom Soldiers, a team from the Knight High School in Palmdale, California, has won the 2016 Airborne Delivery Challenge and $5,000. It was a great contest but the accuracy of Phantom Soliders’ drops was incredible and they won by more than 10 points. All three of their medical packages also landed next to Outback Joe with an impact force under 75G (the requirement to gain maximum points). It seems that their innovative drop mechanism and packaging were one of the secrets of their success.

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Phantom Soldiers (Winners)

In second place was rookie team, Calamvale Predators from  Calamvale Community College in Queensland. They won $2,000 for second place and an additional $2,000 for the best placed rookie team. They built their custom quad copter at school and it was built for speed. They also had a great package design and achieved a very low impact of 29G for one of their package deliveries.

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Calamvale Predators (Second and Best Rookie Team)

JPV UAV from John Paul College, Daisy Hill, Queensland came third and won $1,000 with three very accurate drops from their hexacopter.

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John Paul College UAV (Third)

The Insitu Pacific Airmanship Award was given to Rise Above, a team from Noosa District State High School, Queensland, who showed outstanding airmanship during the event.

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Rise Above (Insitu Pacific Airmanship Award winners)

The Judges Sportsmanship Award was given to the Calamvale Hurricanes and Predators for their positive attitude and respect to their competitors.

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Calamvale Predators (left) and Hurricanes (right) – Judges Sportsmanship award winner

Team photos will be posted in the coming weeks. The organisers would like to thank the teams for the great spirit in which they competed and the event sponsors for their continued support. The sponsors, supporters and organisers this year were:

Major Supporter: Queensland Government
Platinum Sponsors: Insitu Pacific | Northrop Grumman | Lockheed Martin
Gold: Boeing
Silver: Little Ripper Lifesaver | MathWorks | CASA
Bronze: LightWare Optoelectronics | Defence Science and Technology Group | Australian Robotics & Automation Association | Western Downs Regional Council
Co-organised: Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation | CSIRO’s Data61

We could not run these events without this generous support and also the volunteer support of many others who commit many hours of their time to the UAV Challenge. Remember that the 2016 Medical Express Challenge takes place in Dalby next week. Follow all the action here!

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Thanks to all the teams, volunteers, sponsors and organisers!

Day 2 of the 2016 Airborne Delivery Challenge

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The scene at Gratton Field, Calvert, at the end of Day 2 – sun and puddles.

Day 2 of the Airborne Delivery Challenge got off to a very wet start. Teams and organisers arrived by 7.30am as the rain began. The rain did not really stop until around 1pm when competition flying resumed. Nine teams managed to complete competition flights this afternoon, many of them achieving very accurate drops to Outback Joe. The remaining teams will fly tomorrow morning and we should be able to declare the winner by lunch time.