Announcing UAV Challenge Medical Express 2016 at an unmanned systems conference associated with the Avalon Airshow, event co-ordinator Dennis Frousheger said the 2016 challenge was designed to push UAV technology to the limit.

“It’s unlikely that traditional fixed-wing unmanned aircraft or small multi-rotor vehicles will be capable of meeting this challenge – new hybrid flying robots will probably be required,” said Mr Frousheger, an engineer in CSIRO’s Digital Productivity Flagship.

“This time, our hapless bushwalker is stuck in a clearing in the Australian Outback, surrounded by floodwaters, and his doctors have requested an urgent blood sample be sent to them.

“He’s found his way to a clearing and has emailed his GPS coordinates.

“Joe’s located in an area surrounded by obstacles so teams will need to develop systems capable of understanding the landing site, and plan and execute a landing – all of this at a distance of at least 10kms from their location.”

To complete the mission, teams will need to deploy an aircraft from a small town outside the flooded area and have it fly autonomously for at least 10km to find Outback Joe.

The robot aircraft must locate Joe and automatically land nearby. After Joe places his blood sample into the aircraft, it must take off and fly quickly back to the town.

UAV Challenge co-founder Professor Jonathan Roberts, a QUT robotics expert with the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation, is not expecting a winner in the first year of the new competition – but is happy to be proven wrong.

“It took eight years to save Joe in our Outback Rescue competition – that’s with more than 2,000 people from 350 teams working on the problem and sharing their knowledge,” Professor Roberts said.

“We’re expecting many of those teams to take up the medical express challenge, along with others keen to push the envelope for UAV capabilities.

“The prize for saving Joe will again be AU$50,000.”

The competition takes place in September 2016 in Outback Queensland, Australia.

Professor Roberts outlined the results of the 2014 Outback Challenge – Search and Rescue and the scope of the new Medical Express competition at the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems’ conference, A Gathering Storm: Unmanned Systems Outlook in Australasia, held over three days in Melbourne and Avalon, Australia.

He said the full rules for the UAV Challenge Medical Express competition will be released in the coming weeks.

The UAV Challenge will also release new rules for the high-school student competition to be held during the 2015 September Queensland school holidays. The high-school event will also have a medical delivery theme.

The rules of both the International Medical Express Challenge and the high-school challenge will be posted on this site as soon as they are released.

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Comment by Hans Miller on February 22, 2015 at 10:26pm

What is "at least 10km"? Is that 10, 11 or 100km? Sounds a bit vague.

10km or thereabouts should still be manageable with a large quadcopter.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on February 23, 2015 at 8:01am

Yeah, the physical aspects of this seem pretty trivial to me.  So, 20 km round trip.  With a helicopter, that is a 24 minute round trip flight time.  Fairly trivial for an electric helicopter at an easy 50 km/h.  17 minutes at a more moderate 70 km/h.  I guess we need to know if we will have to "lawnmower" a search area, but it sounds like we won't, GPS coordinates provided?  Sounds like the challenge will be locating a flat/clear area near the coordinates?

Comment by Darrell Burkey on February 23, 2015 at 3:03pm

"Joe is located in an area surrounded by obstacles". Sounds to me like this challenge is going to be about vehicles with the capability to avoid obstacles. With the OBC you really need to wait for the rules to know what it's all about. I doubt it's going to be a simple. 

Comment by OpenUAS on February 23, 2015 at 4:37pm

Bring it on! No challenge to difficult for Team OpenUAS. Hang on there Joe, we are determined to rescue you...

Comment by Michael Nauta on February 24, 2015 at 12:33pm

Poor Joe, the UAV is only there to rescue his blood sample.

Comment by Alejandro D.J Gómez Flórez on August 3, 2015 at 6:28am

In the requirements for participate, I saw that the UAV should be autonomous by 5 hours. Its posible with a Quadcopter?

Comment by Darrell Burkey on August 3, 2015 at 11:22pm

@Akehabdro - Where did you see 5 hrs? I believe participants only get 1 hour to complete the challenge. I seriously doubt any multirotor could do the current challenge, but you never know. After all, that's why it's called a challenge.

Comment by Alejandro D.J Gómez Flórez on August 4, 2015 at 6:35am

My question is because I read in the rules, an requirement for record a video with a 5 hours of autonomy. For that reason I did the question.

Comment by Darrell Burkey on August 4, 2015 at 7:30am

@ Alejandro - The 5 hours of autonomous flight requirement means that the aircraft you choose has done a minimum of 5 total hours of flying during testing before the competition. It is not a requirement to fly 5 hours in a single flight.

Comment by Alejandro D.J Gómez Flórez on August 4, 2015 at 10:27am

ahhh Ok.. thanks...

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