UAV Challenge Medical Express rules have been released.

The UAV Challenge Medical Express rules have been released.

The Mission for 2016:

"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 are invited to attempt to retrieve a blood sample from the remote Outback Joe and return it to base where medical staff will be waiting to analyse it. Teams must deploy unmanned aircraft to Joe’s location, and then return a sample bottle from him utilising a remote landing and takeoff site close to him. They must complete all of this within one hour."

Documentation can be found here:

Rules PDF here:


Challenge FAQ:

Brief overview of the 2016 OBC rules:

  1. Two aircraft are allowed that can detach/reattach to eachother > one as retrieval aircraft and one for support > both can be airborne at the same time
  2. Range required +40km but no more than 60km through "bent" geofenced transit corridor - waypoints will likely backtrack to get the total distance, but will be at least 250m apart. (see FAQ)
  3. Flight must not take longer than one hour so the airframe must be able to achieve roughly 90-100kmh average, as well as be VTOL or STOL (!)
  4. The RF Link range required is approximately 10km (3-4G Mobile and Satellite comms allowed - safety case req. for landing zone etc)
  5. 1500ft AGL altitude restriction
  6. 25knot average wind over 10 minutes will cancel the event (which is higher than last time)
  7. Joe GPS coordinates that are provided are within 100m of Joe. One must locate him and land no closer than 30m, but no further away from Joe than 80m - distance away is scored at 2 points per meter - Joe has lost his colorful shirt but kept his jean pants on - phew!
  8. payload to be picked up is 20x100mm and no more than 100g and must be returned intact back to base.
  9. aircraft must remain motionless for 1 minute after landing near Joe before Joe will approach to place payload - Takeoff Arm switch is required by Joe at pickup location with one minute takeoff delay after activation
  10. Biggest points are for delivering intact sample back to base
  11. Only the top 20 ranking teams through D1-D3 will get to go (based on paperwork, flight logs and videos) - That will be tough
  12. Might not be at Kingaroy this time...

No specifics are given to the makeup of the Joe takeoff landing site or base site, apart from that it will "impede low glideslope landings". So this could allow something like a Skywalker X8 with a quadcopter strapped underneath to launch and fly to location, identify and locate Joe exactly, then detach the quad for payload retrieval, while the X8 stays above the landing zone as RF relay until quad is released to takeoff, then both can head back with the X8 arriving first and possibly landing with a parachute and then the quad with payload some minutes later. A single VTOL might be nice but you'd have to land/takeoff blind without RF link. Helicopters welcome.

Shouldn't be too hard.... I think I have the gear for that here already. Time to dig out old Tinker Bell and send her back to get Joe! ;-)

Views: 4364

Comment by JB on March 21, 2015 at 4:50pm


The seperate battery as described is enough. Thats what we did last time in 2014, I doubt it will change and you can always get feedback beforehand.

If you're doing a team you'll definitely need some help, a team of 1 is nigh impossible. But in saying that the two SFWA  brothers managed to be the first ever to complete the challenge 2014, and they built their own FPGA/DSP based autopilot hardware and software by themselves from scratch in two years! Crazy!

I'd avoid recoupling and concentrate on a +10km (not miles!) return quad instead.

Ground to ground comms will be nearly impossible unless 3/4G is available. But 915Mhz in Australia is 1W EIRP class licence ie no licence required. RFD900 has multipoint too already so RF relay already works.

Would be good to see you there!

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on March 21, 2015 at 5:07pm

There's wording in there that makes me think that 3/4G is not going to be allowed?  Seems to say that no computer is allowed for a relay?  Something like that.

Comment by JB on March 21, 2015 at 5:11pm

Rob our posts crossed. At this point its a bit unclear about the termination to the ground. They do change the rules, but at the moment from what I can tell the remote landing part is there to test the platforms independance. Which makes landing/takeoff even more scary! Two aircraft is the way to go I think.

With a winch line you'd loose to many points for remote landing/takeoff and how close you are to Joe. So not an option, you need to land something if you want to win.

Comment by JB on March 21, 2015 at 5:16pm

Um where does it say no 3/4G allowed? I missed that. That would be annoying. Besides Joe is placing a call for help from there, so I'd assume he's in range. Not having that punches a big hole in the story.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on March 21, 2015 at 5:16pm

I'd be pretty happy with a "respectable finish" if I travel around the world for an autonomous flying robot competition. ;)

Comment by JB on March 21, 2015 at 5:30pm

Once you put all the effort into getting something that works, and getting there through the Deliverables, then you'll be really motivated to win! Given the above I think theres a case to go 3/4G with one aircraft. Seeing theres little searching required it will have more than enough bandwidth, you could even try to land FPV over IP.

Comment by naish on March 21, 2015 at 6:36pm


""3.3.1 Location of infrastructure

Team infrastructure cannot be located outside the Base operation area. Remote computer equipment such as servers may not be used and all processing must occur either on the aircraft or on the GCS computers within the Base. ""

Is not really clear... can the 3/4G network considered as infrastructure? I suppose yes. So this means that Rob is right, no 3/4G allowed!  And by the way, phone network coverage/reliability in Australia is really poor, so I will not consider that option anyway. 

Comment by JB on March 21, 2015 at 6:54pm


They had a similar rule last time that restricted off-site processing only if it could be proven that no-one off-site could meddle with it ie slip in the Joe coordinates. 3.3.1 is however limited to processing, not communications, which makes the "cloud server" we used at the 2014 OBC redundant, but it should in no way affect comms via 3/4G. BTW we successfully found Joe last time using a 4G camera phone in Kinagroy (as our onboard processing unit stalled) with internet based recognition. Australia ain't that bad with reception...even out in the "bush". Altitude helps and the search area is tiny now but with more obstacles. Besides Joe is making a call for help so he needs reception too. Otherwise you'd just have take your own mobile tower with... ;-)

Comment by naish on March 21, 2015 at 7:14pm

My english is not perfect, but as is my understanding everything that is needed to accomplish the mission is part of the infrastructure. So mobile network is part of that. Also this is really questionable as this will mean that GPS satellites are part of the infrastructure too. I think you are right, is like last year where they only mean the processing, can't be done offsite.  If this is the case, you could install ISM band repeaters along the way. 

As for the mobile network coverage, I don't agree. Coverage at altitude is great, but on the ground is a different story .  Plus considering the fact that the location still unknown, is a risk starting to work on a phone network based system as you don't know if you will have 3G coverage. Maybe Joe sent you a SMS using GSM only network. 

Most viable option looks to be 900mhz ISM modem, and Satellite datalink, or 3G/4G network if you have one aircraft as relay station 

Comment by JB on March 21, 2015 at 8:00pm

Hey Naish

There are barely any GSM (2G) networks anymore in Australia. Even then bandwidth for telemetry is a non issue even on GSM. If Joe's using a cellular phone, and not satellite, then there will be 3G reception on the ground at the pickup site. Provided of course the organizers also keep it real from there side and send the SMS from the location as well. I'll be requesting clarification on this but I can't see how they can get out of it apart from saying they're using a sat phone.

There is a lot of infrastructure that wouldn't be included inside of the geofence area. Besides GPS, sat data and even RF comms would go outside as well seeing the transit path isn't straight etc. I don't think they intend the challenge to be to find a comms path that is allowed! The other question is just what bandwidth is required at all. I'd say unless you want FPV, telemetry over RFD900 will suffice. 3/4G will be a good backup.

BTW your English if great! Are you planning on entering?


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