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.