Medical Rescue 2020: Rules update and team registration open


The UAV Challenge Technical Committee today announced that version 2 of the rules for the 2020 UAV Challenge Medical Rescue competition are now available on the Medical Rescue Page. A full list of changes to the rules can be found on page 4 of v2 of the rules document. We hope that teams are progressing with their designs. A reminder that the Team Registration and Deliverable 1 deadline is 28th August 2019.

The registration form has now been opened. Teams are encouraged to register before they submit their Deliverable 1 document. And remember. Build. Fly. Rescue. Repeat.

Announcing the 2020 Medical Rescue Challenge


The UAV Challenge organisers are very pleased to announce the UAV Challenge Medical Rescue for 2020. Outback Joe is unlucky again! This time he has had a serious accident in his shed. Medical professionals are rushing to save him but they need a live video feed of Joe as they prepare their rescue while en route. Teams must deploy their unmanned aircraft (and maybe a ground vehicle) to save the day!

We hope that this new UAV Challenge mission will continue to push the UAV community further and continue our own mission of accelerating the use of unmanned aircraft and systems that can save lives.

Go to the Medical Rescue page for full details (indulging Version 1 of the rules).

Rules released for 2019 Airborne Delivery Challenge


We are excited to announce that the rules for the next Airborne Delivery Challenge have just been released. The event will take place on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th October 2019 at Calvert Radio Aero Modellers Society flying field, Bourke’s Road West, Calvert, Queensland, Australia.

The Technical Committee have developed a new simplified format for the rules (compared to that of previous years).

Registration of teams is now also open and teams are encouraged to register as soon as possible. This will allow us to keep you up-to-date as we progress through the competition.

All the details of the 2019 Airborne Delivery Challenge, including the rules and registration, can be found on the High-School page.

Announcing the 2019 Airborne Delivery Challenge


The organisers of the UAV Challenge (CSIRO and QUT) are pleased to announce the launch of the 2019 Airborne Delivery Challenge. The event will take place on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th October 2019 at Calvert Radio Aero Modellers Society flying field, Bourke’s Road West, Calvert, Queensland, Australia.

This year’s competition maintains the same mission as last year – saving Outback Joe from a medical emergency, but there are a few exciting changes. The most significant one for teams is that instead of monetary prizes for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winners, this year, all teams that qualify and attend the event will receive AUD$500 to help with expenses. The organisers understand that travelling can be expensive.

The Technical Committee are still finalising the new rules (with a new simplified format) and will release them mid-March.

All the details of the competition can be found on the High-School page. Registration will open when the rules are released and teams are encouraged to register then.

Stay tuned.

Juiced TV cover the UAV Challenge


From left to right: Jonathan Roberts (QUT), Miles (Juiced TV), Outback Joe – soft version, Outback Joe – hard version.

A few weeks before the 2018 UAV Challenge, Juiced TV went to QUT to talk with UAV Challenge co-founder, Jonathan Roberts. Juiced TV is the TV station of the Queensland Children’s Hospital and their TV shows are co-created by the hospital’s patients. You can watch the full segment here. If you want to follow Juiced TV then check them out here. And thanks Juiced TV for coming and making such a great TV segment.

Canberra UAV Debrief – review of their time in Dalby


Canberra UAV team of 2018 Medical Express Challenge

The Canberra UAV Challenge team have published their debrief blog from the recent Medical Express Challenge. The team has gone into considerable detail in explaining their time at the event in Dalby. You can read their full account here.

We encourage all teams to share their findings from the UAV Challenge and we will promote in a similar way.

It is by sharing that we can all help achieve the UAV Challenge’s goals:

The goal of the UAV Challenge is to demonstrate the utility of Unmanned Airborne Vehicles (UAVs) for civilian applications, particularly in those applications that will save the lives of people in the future. We do this by harnessing the ingenuity and passion of aero modellers, university students and high-school students around the world to develop novel and cost-effective solutions.

Thanks Canberra UAV.

Day 5 of UAV Challenge 2018 – no overall winner in Medical Express

The UAV Challenge 2018 is over and we have had a spectacular week in Dalby. Eleven teams flew in the Medical Express Challenge. Their mission was to retrieve a blood sample from Outback Joe at his farm and in doing that they had to land within 10m of a visual target. Their aircraft had to fly at least 12 nautical miles from the Base of operations to Joe’s farm, and back (24 nautical miles in total, which is approximately 44.5km). The team to complete that mission (as per the rules) and score the most points would win $25,000. Teams had an option to complete the mission fully autonomously and show a complete hands off operation, and if they were the winning team, they would get an additional $25,000. Finally, teams had a second option to avoid Dynamic No Fly Zones in the DST Group Extension Autonomy Challenge. If the winning team also completed that, they would be awarded another $25,000. A maximum of $75,000 for one team was up for grabs!

But after three days of flying, the task proved just out of the reach of all eleven teams and unfortunately, there was no overall winner. No team successfully completed the Medical Express Challenge core mission, although two teams came very close.


High Flyers completing their pre-flight checks (left) and their aircraft just after take-off (right).

The day began with just two teams left to attempt their mission flight. First up was High Flyers from Poland. They had elected to go to the back of the flight running order earlier in the week so they could sort out some issues with their aircraft. They told the judges and scrutineers this morning that they would not be capable of attempting the full mission and so instead would perform a simple mission that showed an autonomous take-off, a short flight and then an autonomous landing. They set up, put their aircraft out onto the field and it did exactly as they said it would – took off, flew a little and then landed – all fully autonomously. It was a shame that High Flyers did not manage to send their aircraft down the range, but it is wonderful to see that they knew exactly what they could and could not do and hence did not put the aircraft into a risky position.


JetStream’s aircraft returning to The Base for a landing (left) and some of the team just after a successful autonomous landing (right).

The final team to fly in the Medical Express event was JetStream, also from Poland. JetStream had been scheduled to fly earlier but had a technical issue and elected to fly last. Like the High Flyers before them, JetStream reported to the judges and scrutineers that they would not be attempting the full mission as their aircraft appeared to have a problem with its telemetry link and so only a flight of a few kilometers distance would be achievable. The team asked if the range marshals could place their Joe target out on the range a few kilometres from The Base and they would aim to perform an autonomous take-off, fly to the target, turn around and return, finishing off with an autonomous landing. The plan was agreed as it would not change any of the scoring of points  and the aircraft would not land at the target or report its location. The team’s set up was very professional, the take-off was fully autonomous, even if it was slightly wobbly! The aircraft headed down range to the (now close) target. It turned around, flew back to The Base and performed an autonomous landing. And that was it! A successful, very short modified mission. That was the final flight of the Medical Express event and the judges retreated to their judges’ caravan to thoroughly check through all of the scoring.

No team had successfully completed the main mission. All Medical Express fans will know why, but for those of you reading this that don’t, here is the list of criteria for a complete mission (from the Rules, Version 3):

The mission is deemed complete if all of the following criteria are achieved:

  • An aircraft does not cross a Geofence boundary.
  • An aircraft lands autonomously (no-remote control) within 10m of the Emergency-Landing Target.
  • An aircraft takes off autonomously from the Remote Landing Point with the Sample.
  • An aircraft lands at the Base carrying the intact Sample.
  • All aircraft launched, land back at the Base intact within the allocated mission time.

The top two teams on points were Monash UAS and Team Dhaksha. Both teams were superb. In the case of Monash UAS, even though they successfully landed within 10m of the Emergency-Target, they had an issue that meant that they had to command their aircraft to take-off from the farm and hence the take-off could not be deemed autonomous.  The aim of this mission is that Outback Joe would be able to initiate the take-off and he could not. In the case of Team Dhaksha, they did not land within 10m of the Emergency-Landing target. Their aircraft landed over 30m away, in the next paddock and on the other side of a fence. But both teams did achieve amazing mission flights and are congratulated on these fantastic achievements.


Outback Joe is still waiting for the results of his blood sample (left) and the briefing tent just prior to the scores being announced (right).

The final scores and ranking for the teams was as follows, noting that 55 teams entered the Medical Express Challenge 2018 and so the 11th ranked team, Forward Robotics, is ranked 11th from 55, i.e. a top 20% finisher! Well done to all the teams.


There was very little between the top two teams. Team Dhaksha had the higher flight segment score, but Monash UAS had a higher scoring Report and Team Interview. This was the tightest UAV Challenge result we have had for the adult competition since the first contest in 2007.

Version 2

First ranked team, Monash UAS.


Second ranked Team Dhaksha (with judge Jim Coyne recovering Outback Joe’s blood sample).

The Insitu Pacific Airmanship Award went to Griffin UAV for their professionalism, attitude and decision making abilities. Airmanship is a very important part of the UAV Challenge and the judges were impressed by a number of teams.

Finally, Canberra UAV were awarded an incentive award for the team performing best in the DST Group Extension Autonomy Challenge. Not only did their aircraft travel nearly the entire length of the course avoiding virtual dynamic obstacles, but Canberra UAV also shared all of their computer code with other teams. Their attitude to sharing everything and progressing the field of low-cost UAVs for civilian applications is commendable.


Griffin UAV, winners of the Insitu Pacific Airmanship award, with Insitu Pacific’s Chief Remote Pilot, Rhys Mudford (left), and Canberra UAV, with DST Group’s Geoff Brian, who performed best in the DST Group Extension Autonomy Challenge (right).

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. We thank you all.

The goal of the UAV Challenge is to demonstrate the utility of Unmanned Airborne Vehicles (UAVs) for civilian applications, particularly in those applications that will save the lives of people in the future. We do this by harnessing the ingenuity and passion of aero modellers, university students and high-school students around the world to develop novel and cost-effective solutions.

We will now review how everything went this year and consider how the UAV Challenge moves forward. Stay tuned for details of the next events.

And remember this: Build. Fly. Rescue. Repeat.

Day 4 of the UAV Challenge 2018

Did we say that yesterday at the UAV Challenge was good? Well today may have been even more amazing. Today was the day when we aimed to let at least five teams fly their missions in the 2018 Medical Express Challenge. In the end, six teams flew.


MelAvio setting up their aircraft (left), take-off (right).

First to fly today were MelAvio Avionics Club from Poland. Their impressive looking aircraft was brought out onto the field only for the team to have to take it back undercover due to a sudden deterioration in the weather. We had a 30 minute weather hold and started again. After the restart, MelAvio began their engine testing only to find that there were issues with the running of the main petrol engine (used for the forward flight portion of their mission). They worked bravely for over half an hour to try and fix the issue and finally launched their aircraft into the air. But it soon became apparent to them that there were still issues with the engine and they decided to call it and land and not continue. This was a great piece of airmanship. Safety first!


Forward Robotics used two planes for their mission attempt (left) but had issues with both (right).

Next up was Forward Robotics from Canada. They were returning from 2016 when they first showed off their amazing looking aircraft. They had two years of updates and practice and were another hot favourite to complete the mission. The first aircraft took off well and headed down range. But the second aircraft had an issue immediately after take off and did not head into the range. The team decided to abort the mission and manually land the second aircraft. The first aircraft then landed outside of the Base area due to a technical issue and their mission was over.


ISAAC UAV completing pre-flight checks (left) managed a short flight (right) before having to abort the mission.

The third team for the day was ISAAC UAV from Thailand. They brought a helicopter to the last Medical Express event in 2016 but this year decided to use a quadplane. They seemed extremely well prepared (as they were in 2016). Their set up took a little bit longer than they hoped and they used up some of their 60 minute mission time completely all their final checks. The aircraft performed a take off and headed off down the range but a loss of one of their communication links meant that the aircraft’s return to home behaviour kicked in. The aircraft flew straight back to the Base and was manually landed by the safety pilot. The team tried again but they encountered another issue that meant the aircraft took off but then simply hovered. They aborted the mission and their UAV Challenge was at an end.


One of MAVLab’s Delftacopters with the giant antenna mast behind it (left) and the broken aircraft recovered by one of the judges at the farm (right).

MAVLab TUDelft, from The Netherlands, were up next and they decided to use an elevated work platform to extend their antenna height and hence communication range. The work platform was parked next to the ground station area and held the team’s main radio antenna. They also had an Iridium (satellite) link. The set up went smoothly and the take off seemed very straight forward. The team even brought some lunch to have while waiting for their aircraft to complete the mission. A technical issue with the GPS location feed they were supplying to the judges meant that the Dynamic No Fly Zone part of the competition could not be fully completed, although the aircraft was seen to be avoiding obstacles as it transited past the Base. Once at the farm, the aircraft automatically detected Joe’s target and initiated its landing sequence. Then disaster struck! As it slowly descended the main rotor switched off prematurely, roughly 1.5m above the ground, and the aircraft fell to the ground with the impact breaking the wing structure. The judges and scrutineers at the farm immediately declared that the aircraft was not fit to take off again (they saw the wing bent 45 degrees before they made it safe) and so the mission was over.


The Griffin UAV team watching their aircraft as it autonomously flies its mission (left) and their aircraft approaching landing back at the Base (right).

The number five team for Thursday were Griffin UAV from Thailand. This was there first UAV Challenge event and it was clear to the judges from the way the team walked onto the field that they were professional but also determined to enjoy their mission time. They had a single aircraft attempting the mission and their set up and pre-flight checks went well. The aircraft was cleared for take off and immediately headed to Waypoint 1 at the south of the range. All systems appeared to be operating normally and the aircraft came back towards the Base, swung around (as it is supposed to do) and headed off to Outback Joe’s farm. The mission up to this point was fully autonomous. The judges and scrutineers at the farm reported the aircraft’s successful arrival overhead. At this point the aircraft itself or the team (it is not clear as we write this) decided that there was not enough battery life to perform a remote landing and subsequent take off and get back to the Base to complete the mission. So instead the aircraft took some photos of the farm and returned directly to the Base without Outback Joe’s blood sample. The aircraft landed properly at the Base, delighting the team and the crowd that they still had a fully functioning aircraft. Griffin UAV had a lot to be proud of.


Team Dhaksha take to the Dalby skies (left) and the team after the recovery of the blood sample (right).

At this point in the day, the team JetStream from Poland elected to go to the end of the flight queue and that made Team Dhaksha from India next. They were given their 15 minute warning to get ready and starting organising. This team has two very unusual hybrid multirotor aircraft. Each have a petrol engine that power a generator for the electric motors. They report flight times for these aircraft at between 3 and 4 hours! The crowd was very eager to see how they performed. Team Dhaksha elected not to compete for the Extension Autonomy Challenge but instead focussed on completing the mission full autonomously. Both aircraft took off autonomously. The retrieval aircraft headed off down the range and the support communications relay aircraft parked itself about 30m above and to the side of the flying field, where it remained for the rest of the mission. The mission proceeded in a complete hands off fashion. The retrieval aircraft completed the first leg, swung around the Base and headed to the farm.

On arrival at the farm it began searching for Outback Joe’s target and reported that it had done so and that it had initiated a landing. The judges and scrutineers confirmed that it appeared to be landing in a safe location and so the aircraft was left to complete its landing. But it then became clear that it was well away from the 10m distance from the target that it needed to be for Team Dhaksha to officially complete the mission. The aircraft landed 35.6m away in the next field to where the target was lying.  The scrutineer at the farm placed Outack Joe’s blood sample in the landed aircraft and pushed the arm button. Sixty seconds later, the aircraft autonomously took to the air and headed back the way it had come. Both aircraft successfully landed autonomously after the retrieval aircraft completed the full mission distance (approximately 24 nautical miles). The mission was over and full autonomy had been used throughout. Even though the mission was not successfully completed due to the 10m rule, it was a remarkable achievement. Hats off to Team Dhaksha!


Autonomous flight – check! Autonomosu take-off and landing – check! Outback Joe’s blood sample – check! The Dhaksha approaching their returned retrieval aircraft.

We have just two more teams to fly tomorrow. They are the High Flyers and JetStream, both teams are from Poland. Friday maybe another epic day at the UAV Challenge. We certainly hope so. Stay tuned…