2018 Medical Express


What happened

The 2018 Medical Express took place on the final three days of UAV Challenge week. You can get a full story of what happened in the competition in the following three news articles:


You can see a list of teams that competed in the UAV Challenge Medical Express 2018 here.


There was an FAQ page where commonly asked questions were posted and answered by the UAV Challenge Technical Committee.

The 2018 Mission Task

Outback Joe is at his property in remote Queensland, Australia and has been feeling unwell. He has had a remote consultation with his doctor using video conferencing, and his doctor has requested some blood tests be done as soon as possible. Joe is well prepared, has a home sample taking kit, and has taken his blood sample. The challenge is now to get the blood sample to the lab. Joe’s property is very remote and to make matters worse, it has been cut off by floodwaters.

Teams were invited to attempt to retrieve a blood sample from the remote Outback Joe and return it to base where medical staff would be waiting to analyse it. Teams were encouraged to develop systems that could carry out the mission in a fully autonomous manner using Type 2 Autonomy.


An example layout for a 2018 Medical Express Challenge mission. Note that this figure is an example only.

Changes from 2016 

The 2018 Medical Express Challenge was designed to extend the capability of teams in the area of autonomy. The UAV Challenge Technical Committee believe that the level of autonomy of UAVs must increase in order to see them used more regularly to save lives. Additional cash prizes were created for demonstration of Type 2 Autonomy and an ability to re-plan a mission in real-time and potentially avoid other airspace users (known as the Extension Autonomy Challenge).


Entrants were required to submit a short technical report (known as Deliverable 1) that described the proposed system design and safety considerations. Later a more detailed technical report was required (Deliverable 2) that outlined a team’s design approach, methodology for remote landing, and operational and safety procedures along with a flight demonstration video was submitted.  Finally an Autonomous Flight Record that documented a minimum of five hours of autonomous flight had to be provided along with a Safety Case document (Deliverable 3).


Points were be awarded based on the mission performance including the accuracy of the remote landing, technical documentation, and the team’s answers to questions from the judges prior to the mission.


The blood vial successfully retrieved from Canberra UAV’s Quadplane in 2016.

The Prize

The team to achieve the highest points total and have also completed the mission, and after the competition is complete, would be declared the winner and would receive AUD$ 25,000. However, no teams achieved this in 2018, but two came close.

If the winning team had completed the mission using Type 2 Autonomy then they would have received a bonus of AUD$25,000.

If the winning team had also completed the mission containing Dynamic No Fly Zones they would have received an additional bonus of AUD$25,000.

The maximum prize for the winning team was therefore AUD$75,000.

The team achieving the highest points total, whether or not they have completed the mission, will be awarded the Rod Walker Trophy, presented in memory of Professor Rod Walker, co-founder of the UAV Challenge.

Event Location

The UAV Challenge Medical Express 2018 event was held at the Dalby Model Aero Club, 743 Cecil Plains Road, Dalby, Queensland, Australia. This was be the location of The Base.


Rules and other files relating to the UAV Challenge Medical Express (2018)


The 2018 event was co-organised by CSIRO (Data61) and QUT (The Australian Centre for Robotic Vision) and was sponsored by the Queensland Government, Insitu Pacific & Boeing Research and Technology Australia, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group and the Mathworks.