Next Outback Challenge will have medical theme, be harder

From Queensland University of Technology:

Queensland University of Technology and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, have announced their next international unmanned aircraft challenge, UAV Challenge Medical Express 2016.

The previous UAV Challenge, held in 2014, tasked entrants with designing and creating an UAV that could deliver an emergency package to a hiker lost in the outback.

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 will take place in September 2016 in Outback Queensland, Australia.

Views: 2590

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on March 9, 2015 at 1:33pm

New hybrid flying robots?

Oh, poor tradheli, you are so unloved. :)

Comment by Gary McCray on March 9, 2015 at 2:32pm

Hi Rob,

I'd say, noting the 20km round trip (and needing to locate a reasonable landing site), your Trad heli example might be the most likely to actually be able to pull it off.

Looks like a "hybrid flying robot" to me.

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on March 9, 2015 at 2:56pm

CanberraUAV is going to look at both tradheli and tiltrotor aircraft for our entry. Greg Oakes will lead our tradheli effort, as he has the most tradheli experience in our group and he is a meticulous aircraft maintainer (which is essential for helicopters).

Cheers, Tridge

Comment by Peter Newhook on March 9, 2015 at 3:06pm

Project Wing from Google may work here. It takes off vertically, can hover in place, but is essentially a flying wing.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on March 9, 2015 at 3:14pm

I'd be really interested in doing this challenge myself, but the advanced programming side is beyond me.  If there are any other computer science people near Toronto, drop me a note. :)

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on March 9, 2015 at 3:27pm

the big potential advantage of trad heli is precision landing in wind. The various hybrid systems (including googles wing) are more prone to wind when hovering. A heli can handle very high wind and even gusts and still fly quite precisely.

Comment by Jason McCarthy on March 9, 2015 at 4:23pm

Is the most complicated aspect of this challenge going to be obstacle detection on landing? Though reading th e media release it states 'joe' will be in a clearing?

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on March 9, 2015 at 4:42pm

we won't know what the most difficult aspects of the challenge are till the rules are released.

Comment by keeyen pang on March 9, 2015 at 6:11pm

Hi Rob

I read somewhere that your 600 size electric heli can run for about 40 minutes, is there any detail info regarding this project. It use variable pitch direct tail drive, where can I get those require components ? 

I am asking because I would like to develop a Pixhawk power electric traditional heli for our conservationdrones. We always having problem to find proper landing site for air plane base UAV in tropical forest. 

For your beautiful gas power heli, what is the endurance ?


Comment by John Dennings on March 9, 2015 at 10:38pm

Tridge, Rob,

Or do a big coax X8,  similar to this, and you're pretty much done.

57 minutes flight time:

18 minutes, 7kg payload: 

20km? No problem.


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