Day 3 of UAV Challenge Week 2018


One of Sky High’s winning drops in the Airborne Delivery Challenge.

What a great day! Day 3 of the UAV Challenge week was a fantastic success. The first few hours were devoted to the high-school student teams competing in the Airborne Delivery Challenge. You can find a full summary of that competition here. The winning team was Sky High from William J. “Pete” Knight High School in Palmdale California.

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The two blood samples from Outback Joe that were recovered at the Base after being transported by UAV from Joe’s farm.

The remainder of the day was dedicated to the first mission flights of Medical Express teams. The weather was ideal and we hoped that three teams would get to fly and complete their missions. By the end of the day we did indeed see Monash UAS, Canberra UAV and West Coast UAV all fly their missions.


UAV ahoy (left) and the blood sample removed from Monash UAS’s retrieval aircraft at the end of the mission flight (right).

First up in the Medical Express Challenge were Monash UAS. Their very large team were highly organised and started off extremely well. Their two aircraft took off autonomously and both headed down the range. The communications relay aircraft stayed close to Waypoint 1 for the rest of the mission while the retrieval aircraft flew to Outback Joe’s farm. Impressively, the aircraft automatically found the target that had been put out by Outback Joe and landed just 5.6m from it. Until that point, the team had run the mission totally hands-free. But a problem was spotted by the team that meant that the landed aircraft could not be reactivated by Outback Joe at the farm (as per the rules) and so the team intervened and commanded the aircraft to take-off and return to the Base. Both aircraft came into land fully autonomously and the blood sample was successfully transport from the farm to the Base. This was a great effort by the team but they did not complete the mission.


Canberra UAV’s retrieval aircraft searching for the target at the farm (left) and the blood sample retrieved at the end of the mission at the Base (right).

The second team to fly was Canberra UAV. They had come first in the last competition in 2016 and are one of the favourites to complete the mission this year. This year, the Challenge is tougher than it was in 2016 as the organisers have added an optional Extension Autonomy Challenge – sponsored by Defence Science and Technology Group. Canberra UAV elected to tackle this extra challenge which involves their aircraft having to re-plan its route live while it encounters up to 32 virtual dynamic flying obstacles such as other aircraft, bad weather or birds. These obstacles are known as Dynamic No Fly Zones and they are fed into the UAV’s ground station as a simulated radar feed.

The mission for Canberra UAV started with an issue relating to the tuning of the petrol engine of their retrieval aircraft. After some troubleshooting, the team managed to fix the issue and start their mission flight. But they had used some of their 60 minutes of mission time to fix their issue. The team was really up against the clock. The retrieval aircraft made fantastic progress to the farm while the communications relay aircraft remained on station close to the Base. On route to the farm, the team reported a technical issue onboard the retrieval aircraft that resulted in an inability to geo-reference the images of Outback Joe’s target. Canberra UAV’s Andrew (Tridge) worked to fix the issue but in the end manually geo-referenced the target location, and the aircraft landed over 20m from the target. This meant that the team could not complete the mission as a team must land its aircraft within 10m of the target to qualify for a completed mission.  The judges at the farm loaded the blood sample int the aircraft and reactivated it, allowing it to autonomously take-off and return to the Base. Both Canberra UAV completed autonomous landings.

What did go right for Canberra UAV was their ability to successfully re-plan their flight and avoid the Dynamic No Fly Zones. Their aircraft navigated all things thrown at them in an incredible performance that impressed the judges. Even though Canberra UAV did not complete the mission, they did show that it is possible to autonomously navigate in extremely challenging environments.


Watching their aircraft on the range (left) and the auto launch of one of the West Coast UAV’s unmanned aircraft (right).

The final team that got to fly today was West Coast UAV. The team had modified their system from the one they entered in 2016 competition by launching both aircraft autonomously from a catapult launcher. The team’s aircraft flew in formation down to Waypoint 1 and back to the Base before heading towards the farm. Up until that point of the mission, the operation was totally hands-off. Then disaster struck. The retrieval had some sort of technical failure and came down in the range. The team decided to let their imaging aircraft continue to the farm to hunt for the target. Unfortunately that aircraft did not find the target and was commanded to fly back to the Base. On the way the team realised that they could use their aircraft to search for their missing retrieval aircraft and so a search began around its last known location. In the end, that search did not find the aircraft and the imaging aircraft was commanded back to the Base where it performed an autonomous landing.

The flying order for tomorrow is as follows:

MelAvio Avionics Club
Forward Robotics
MAVlab TUDelft
Griffin UAV
Team Dhaksha

with the High Flyers electing to fly at the end. Note that as High Flyers have been given an opportunity to fly but have elected to move the the back of the queue, an additional day of flying (Saturday) will not be activated for them if they do not get an opportunity to fly by the end of Friday.

Tomorrow will be another very big day for the UAV Challenge and the organisers wish all the teams the best of luck.


Team Sky High win the 2018 Queensland Government Airborne Delivery Challenge


Winners Sky High (left) and Second Place Blue Birds (right) receiving their certificates and trophies from Rita Borzelleca from the Queensland Government.

Day 3 of UAV Challenge Week saw the completion of the Queensland Government Airborne Delivery Challenge. The event was partially delayed yesterday due to bad weather but today was a beautiful day, from start to finish. The last six teams down the running order took to the field at 7.30am in ideal conditions. In the end it was quite a close contest.

The winner (and also best Rookie Team) was Sky High from William J. “Pete” Knight High School in Palmdale California. The secret of their success was three great drops. Their accuracy was fantastic and they achieved drops of 3.62m, 0.18m and 1.04m. One of those drops was gentle enough not to exceed the impact limit and that was enough to put them first place.

Second place went to Blue Birds, also from William J. “Pete” Knight High School. They also did three accurate drops, though all of them impacted above the 75G “survival” limit.


Third place team, PHS Falcons (left) and the Insitu Pacific Airmanship Award winners, the Millennium Falcons receiving their award from Brendan Williams from Boeing (right).

In third place was PH Falcons from Palmdale High School in California. Their best drop was 0.4m.

The Insitu Pacific Airmanship Award was given to the Millennium Falcons for their professionalism and great team attitude.


The final scores of the 2018 Queensland Government Airborne Delivery Challenge

The organisers were impressed by the teams that did not score so well but used automatic dropping systems. It is great to see high-school teams implementing these systems and we are sure that these will improve in the future.

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.


Millennium Falcons preparing to fly.

This year our Gold Sponsors were the Queensland Government, Boeing, Insitu Pacific, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Defence Science and Technology Group, and our Bronze Sponsor was The Mathworks. The event was co-organised by Queensland University of Technology (The Australian Centre for Robotic Vision) and 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.

Day 2 of UAV Challenge Week 2018


A windy overnight “flying” incident (left), the team currently known as {insert_team_name_here} take to the field (right).

We all had a huge day out at Dalby Model Aero Club today. There was wind, rain, lightning and some great flying by our high-school teams. We always knew that Day 2 would be a complicated day. The day was planned as the flying day for the Airborne Delivery Challenge and the scrutineering day for the Medical Express Challenge.

Teams and organisers arrived to find that the overnight wind had done a bit of damage to the small tents we use to shield the competitors and judges. The wind conditions were above the limit set out in the Airborne Delivery rules and so the high-school teams had to wait until mid-morning when the wind finally dropped and they could fly.


MUROC Titans doing their pre-flight checks (left), Precision Air with super star Outback Joe (right).

First up were {insert_team_name_here}, High Flyers and Dickson sUAVé. All of them did a great job considering the long wind delay. It was great to see some auto dropping of the Impact Monitor to Outback Joe. MUROC Titans were up next but their flight was interrupted by rain and the competition was paused for nearly three hours while the Dalby region got a well-needed soaking (7mm). The Titans started again after the delay and managed three drops using a novel winch-like delivery mechanism. The team from Aragon High School in California came out next, followed by Precision Air from Noosa District High School. And then the wind returned. We called it a day and will be back to fly the remaining six teams first thing in the morning (Southwest Aircorp, Team Hybrid, Millennium Falcons, PHS Falcons, Sky High and Blue Birds).


Team Dhaksha from India (left) and the judges interviewing High Flyers – Academic Scientific Association team (right)

In the Medical Express Challenge, the teams arrived and set up their aircraft ready for scrutineering and their interview with the judges. We have eleven teams competing this year and all have now arrived. The scrutineers and judges had a very long but productive day checking the UAVs and quizzing the teams to ensure that everything is ready to go for the flights over the next few days. This is the first year that the UAV Challenge Medical Express event is operating officially as a Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) operation.

The running order for the Medical Express teams is:

Monash UAS
High Flyers
Canberra UAV
West Coast UAV
MelAvio Avionics Club
Forward Robotics
MAVlab TUDelft
Griffin UAV
Team Dhaksha

Tomorrow we hope that the weather will be far kinder and we will complete the Airborne Delivery Challenge and start the competition flights for Medical Express. It is going to be another busy day for Outback Joe.

Day 1 of UAV Challenge Week 2018


The Dalby sky never gets boring.

What a great day out at Dalby Model Aero Club! We have just completed the first day of our week at the UAV Challenge in Dalby, Queensland. The day was devoted to the Airborne Delivery Challenge students. This year the teams come from the USA, South Korea and Australia. Each team presented to the judges and had their UAVs and ground control systems inspected by the scrutineers. They got to do some test flying too.


The MUROC Titans (left) and Outback Joe (right).

After Day 1, the competition is very close. Teams score points for the quality of their technical reports, presentations and how well they did during the static scrutineering. At this point, Aragon High School are in the lead, with the team known as {insert_team_name_here} and the MUROC Titans closely behind.


Tomorrow will be a big day with the competition flights of the Airborne Delivery Challenge teams and the arrival and scrutineering of the Medical Express teams.


Dickson sUAVé (left) and Paola and Mina, two team members from Sky High (right).

Remember that you can follow the UAV Challenge via the UAV Challenge Live Facebook Page.

The UAV Challenge is sponsored by the Queensland Government, Insitu Pacific and Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin Australia, Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group and MathWorks. It is co-organised by Queensland University of Technology (supported by the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision) and CSIRO’s Data61.

UAV Challenge week starts tomorrow

The 2018 UAV Challenge week begins tomorrow in Dalby, Queensland, Australia. We have a very big week planned with the Airborne Delivery Challenge up first. High-school teams from around the world will aim to save Outback Joe with their UAVs. The students will present to the judges Monday and perform their competition flights on Tuesday. The Airborne Delivery Teams are as follows:

Aragon High School (Aragon High School, California, USA)
Bluebirds (William J. “Pete” Knight High School, California, USA)
Dickson sUAVe (Dickson College, ACT, Australia)
High Flyers (Rochdale State High School, Queensland, Australia)
{insert_team_name_here} (William J. “Pete” Knight High School, California, USA)
Millennium Falcon (California, USA)
MUROC Titans (Mueller College, Queensland, USA)
PHS Falcons (Palmdale High School, California, USA)
Precision Air (Noosa District High School, Queensland, Australia)
Sky High (William J. “Pete” Knight High School, California, USA)
Southwest Aircorp team (North London Collegiate School Jeju, South Korea)
Team Hybrid (iLEAD Lancaster Charter School, California, USA)

We know that most of the adult teams have already arrived in Dalby for the Medical Express event that will begin on Tuesday. Those teams will be aiming to complete one of the most challenging aerial robotics competitions ever devised. The first team will attempt the mission starting early Wednesday morning. The Medical Express Teams are as follows:

Canberra UAV (Australia)
Forward Robotics (Canada)
Griffin UAV (Thailand)
High Flyers (Poland)
ISAAC UAV (Thailand)
JetStream (Poland)
MAVlab TUDelft (The Netherlands)
MelAvio Avionics Club (Poland)
Monash UAS (Australia)
Team Dhaksha (India)
West Coast UAV (Australia)

Everyone is welcome to come and watch the events. Entry is free and there is plenty of parking. The UAV Challenge 2018 events will be held at the Dalby Model Aero Club, 743 Cecil Plains Road, Dalby, Queensland, Australia.

UAVC 2018 Schedule 20180822

The UAV Challenge is sponsored by the Queensland Government, Insitu Pacific and Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin Australia, Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group and MathWorks. It is co-organised by Queensland University of Technology (supported by the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision) and CSIRO’s Data61.

Dalby Drone Industry Forum is on Monday!


A final reminder that the Dalby Drone Industry Forum is happening this Monday. The event is co-hosted by the Western Downs Regional Council along with the Queensland Government and is supported by the UAV Challenge. The inaugural forum in 2016 attracted hundreds of people from around the country for an insider’s look into the fast-paced world of drone technology and development. The UAV Challenge is a supporter of this free event. If you are planning to come to the UAV Challenge, then please consider attending the industry forum too. Full details, including the list of speakers and topics, can be found here.