Imagine this: you’re lost in the vast, arid Australian outback after you left your disabled vehicle and decided to walk to the nearest town. Your water supply is running out, and your cell phone battery is dead. Then, you hear the whine of a 2-stroke engine, and an RC plane that has been searching for you drops an emergency ration package and you know that help is on the way!
This week, six international search and rescue teams and 14 high school teams are competing in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Challenge. The bi-annual hunt in Kingaroy, Queensland, pits teams’ home-made robotic aircraft against each other in a challenge to locate Outback Joe.
In the Airborne Delivery challenge, high school teams compete to see who can deliver an emergency package the closest to Outback Joe. An optional challenge requires the teams to read symbols left by Outback Joe. The Search and Rescue Challenge pits university and aerospace teams against each other to see who can find Outback Joe and drop a rescue package to him in the shortest time.
The UAV Challenge is a joint initiative between the Queensland Government, the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA, a partnership between QUT and CSIRO) , Aviation Development Australia Limited and AUVS-Australia and is intended to increase UAV awareness and use in Australia.