RC Outback Rescue

RC Outback Rescue

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.

Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | RC Outback Rescue

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.









Updated: October 2, 2012 — 11:09 AM


  1. What a great idea for a contest! Will we have follow-up?

    1. I hope so! Am dependent on news from their website; unfortunately my request to fly to Australia to cover this one was not approved… 🙂

      1. How would the system work? Say, our event happened again how would you go about finding us. My guess is that one would have to subscribe to the network and have a transponder to use in just such emergencies.

  2. That is brilliant. I love where RC technology is headed. Not just for hobby and leisure any more. From Military and Commercial applications to Search and Rescue…The sky’s the limit so-to-speak.

  3. consider this to be the only notice…..The readers have hereby approved a trip to cover this event in person…..That is all.

  4. That is novel and awesome! Some local ideas incited here from an old wilderness survival freak

  5. Debra,

    In 2002 my wife Debbie and I and a dear friend were just over 100k southeast of Mt. Isa, Qld., squizing about looking for the outback bar used in shooting Crocodile Dundee when our Four X quit on us. We were on an unpaved road and our cell phone was out of range. Luckily, a trucker was headed back to town and summoned a flat bed tow truck to rescue us. We were almost a half hours’ drive from services. Would your UAV have had enough fuel to do the trip? Bob

  6. This is only one of several RC design/fly challenges found in the non-hobby world, although I agree it is one of the coolest.

    The SAE Aerochallenge is a world-wide competition for heavy-lift designs. Can you imagine a plane with a take-off weight of 50+ lbs and a span of 20 feet powered only by an OS 60 2-stroke?

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