The end of the UAV Challenge – Mission Complete

Left: the final flight of the 2019 UAV Challenge, right: Outback Joe puts his feet up for now.

It is with great sadness that we are announcing the end of the current UAV Challenge series of events. The UAV Challenge was developed in 2005 with the first event held in Kingaroy, Queensland in 2007. At that time, the UAV industry was just beginning and the UAV Challenge was created to try and help develop, inspire and steer the industry. The UAV Challenge later held events in Calvert and Dalby with the event missions evolving as the industry and aircraft capabilities developed.

The goal of the UAV Challenge events was to demonstrate the utility of UAVs for civilian applications, particularly in applications focused on saving the lives of people. We did this by harnessing the ingenuity and passion of aero modelers, university students and high-school students around the world to develop novel and cost-effective solutions.

The initial UAV Challenge: Outback Rescue was developed to promote the significance of UAVs to Australia. It was a joint initiative between Queensland University of Technology (QUT) via the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA), and CSIRO. CSIRO and QUT have been joined by other partners during the years including the Queensland Government, Boeing/Insitu Pacific, Aviation Development Australia Limited and AUVS-Australia (now AAUS).

The creation of the UAV Challenge: Outback Rescue was a direct outcome from a workshop that ARCAA conducted in 2005. The workshop was called the “The Future of UAVs – Challenges and Applications in the Asia Pacific Region”. The UAV industry has come a very long way in the intervening 17 years, and we are pleased to observe that many of the objectives of the UAV Challenge have been achieved in that time.

The COVID-19 global pandemic of course meant that the 2020 and 2021 events could not take place. The pandemic also resulted in shifts in the priorities of the organisers, which means that we no longer have the capacity to run these exciting events.

We have loved every minute of the UAV Challenge. We are grateful to the many sponsoring organisations, the members of the various committees, the dozens of event volunteers, and to the thousands of people that have participated in the hundreds of teams. It has been a real pleasure and everyone contributed in a positive way to help push the industry forward. We are extremely proud that the challenges set to push the art of the possible are now routine operations, and many technologies and configurations that were novel to the UAV Challenge are mainstream. We would like to acknowledge and thank the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for going on the journey with us, enabling Australia to learn through flight experiences and lead the world in this exciting new sector.

Outback Joe can now take one final, hard-earned rest and hang up his hat, as we pass the baton onto you, the next generation of innovators and dreamers. Thank you.

Note: if any group or organisation is interested in taking on the UAV Challenge brand with the intention of developing a future competition, or series of competitions that further the development of UAVs for public good, then please get in touch.

One thought on “The end of the UAV Challenge – Mission Complete

  1. Thank you to all the organisers and sponsor over the years. On behalf of the students, we thank you for your dedication, expertise, and the good times that we had together. September won’t be the same without the Challenge but things move on. All the best to the competitors both locally and around the world, especially to our friends in the US that would fly over for the High School Comp (Dan, Bridgette).


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