UAV Outback Challenge

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Coordinates: 26°34′50.08″S 151°50′23.79″E / 26.5805778°S 151.8399417°E / -26.5805778; 151.8399417

Uavoutbackchallenge2009.png

The UAV Challenge - Outback Rescue, often referred to as simply the UAV Outback Challenge or UAV Challenge, began in 2007 and has been held every year since. The event is aimed at promoting the civilian use of unmanned aerial vehicles and the development of low-cost systems that could be used for search and rescue missions.[1] The events have been cooperative efforts between a number of organisations with interests in furthering the use of unmanned aircraft in civilian applications. There is a thorough scoring system with a clear emphasis on safety, capability and technical excellence.[2] The format of the Challenge changed in 2011 with the Search and Rescue Challenge moving to a two-year-long event.

The event is one of the largest robotics challenges in the world and one of the highest stakes UAV challenges, with $50,000 on offer to the winner of the Search and Rescue segment of the Challenge. The Search and Rescue Challenge takes place in Kingaroy, Queensland, Australia at the airport. The main Search and Rescue mission task was finally completed in 2014 by CanberraUAV from Australia. The organizers are now thought to be developing the next mission task.

Challenges[edit]

Outback Joe relaxes at the 2010 UAV Challenge
Outback Joe at the UAV Outback Challenge.

Search and Rescue Challenge[edit]

The Search and Rescue Challenge is open for worldwide participation by universities and hobbyists.

'Outback Joe' is lost in the Australian outback and in need of assistance. Teams must develop a platform to accurately pinpoint the simulated target and accurately deliver an emergency package via an airdrop. The mission area is nearly 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the airport and is approximately 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) x 6 kilometres (3.7 mi). Teams must not fly greater than 1500 ft above ground level (AGL).

The overall mission requirements are targeted towards safety, excellence of the platform and innovation. There are a number of milestones leading up to the challenge dates.

Airborne Delivery Challenge[edit]

This challenge is open to Australian high school students. The objective is to create a future generation of aerospace professionals with a focus on UAVs.

An airframe has to be built and the mission is executed by two persons who will not communicate during the mission and will have technological targeting solutions in place:

  • UAV Controller in charge of piloting the airframe (or programming the mission in case of the Robotic challenge)
  • Mission manager in charge of the mission package drop

Other team members are permitted and many teams have roles for a team manager, media manager and safety manager.

In 2009 and 2010 a Robot Airborne Delivery Challenge was also held in parallel to the main Airborne Delivery Challenge. The Robot competition was dropped in 2011 in favor of bonus points for autonomous payload dropping in the Airborne Delivery Challenge.

It was reported, just prior to the 2011 event, that the UAV Challenge had inspired nineteen-year-old Chelsea Redman to become an aerospace engineer.[3]

Outback Joe[edit]

Outback Joe is the target of the Search and Rescue and Airborne Delivery Challenges. Joe is a mysterious local bushwalker that tends to get lost near Kingaroy airport every September. He is represented by a 50 kg mannequin dressed in jeans, a work shirt, work boots and the iconic Australian hat, the Akubra. In 2010, Outback Joe was spotted from the aircraft of the University of North Dakota team lying next to his broken down "ute". This was the first time he had been located by a Search and Rescue team. In 2012, the Canberra UAV team's aircraft automatically located Outback Joe - the first fully automatic detection during all events. Finally, in 2014, Team SFWA became the first ever team to drop a water bottle to Outback Joe. A further four teams dropped water bottles to him that year, with CanberraUAV winning the competition with a drop accuracy of 2.6m.

Rod Walker[edit]

Rod Walker at the 2008 UAV Challenge
Rod Walker at the UAV Outback Challenge 2008.

The UAV Challenge was conceived in late 2005 by Rodney Walker (QUT), Jonathan Roberts (then CSIRO) and George Curran (CSIRO). Their idea was to create an annual event that would help develop young people's enthusiasm and skills in the UAV industry and help educate the general public on the potential roles of UAVs in non-military situations. Rod Walker, a Professor at Queensland University of Technology, died in October 2011, aged 42.[4] Canberra UAV, the first placed team in the 2012 Search and Rescue event were awarded the inaugural Rod Walker Trophy. A memorial fund was set up to support individuals and organisations that try to enhance the use of UAVs for civilian purposes.[5]

The Kingaroy Triangle[edit]

The term The Kingaroy Triangle was coined during the second UAV Challenge event in 2008 when it was noticed that aircraft and systems that had worked perfectly well before the UAV Challenge suddenly appeared to have problems at Kingaroy. The term is a reference to the more famous Bermuda Triangle and also a reference to the general shape of the competition boundary area, which is roughly triangular in nature.

Annual challenges[edit]

2014 competition[edit]

The 2014 event was held at Kingaroy September 22-26 and followed the same format to the 2012 competition with both a Search and Rescue and Airborne Delivery Challenge. For the first time ever, the Search and Rescue mission task was completed and the UAV Challenge Outback Rescue was won. Four teams completed the mission task with CanberraUAV winning the $50,000 prize on points. They were also awarded the Rod Walker Trophy for their win. They completed the mission with an autonomous takeoff, a bottle drop accuracy of 2.6m and a fully autonomous landing. Over 120 Search and Rescue teams registered for the event, with the field of teams being reduced to 20 after the Deliverable 3 qualifying round. Fourteen teams flew at the event and left the airport, beating the previous record of four teams. Four teams successfully completed the task of finding Outback Joe and delivering him at least 500ml of water to within 100m of his location. Team SFWA from Melbourne, Australia, were the first team in the history of the event to complete the mission. A fifth team, VAMUdeS from Canada came close to completing the mission with a drop of 116m. The Search and Rescue competition Airmanship Award was sponsored by Insitu Pacific and was awarded to Pawel Wozniak for his outstanding team leadership and decision making.

Search and Rescue Challenge Team Points Drop Distance (m) Mission Time (minutes) Country
First place and Winner of Rod Walker Trophy CanberraUAV 132.5 2.6 41 Australia
Second place Robota 114.3 44.0 50 USA
Third place SFWA 113.5 23.6 50 Australia
Fourth Team Thunder 111.0 68.0 34 Australia
Insitu Pacific Airmanship Award Pawel Wozniak (Pilot of MelAvio) Poland

The high-school Airborne Delivery Challenge in 2014 was, for the first time, open to high-school teams from outside Australia. Fifteen teams entered and qualified to attend the event in Kingaroy. The winner of the Airborne Delivery main competition was the all-girls team the DareDivas from Mueller College, Australia. Another all-girls team, from Knight High School in California, came third. The Airborne Delivery competition Airmanship Award was sponsored by Insitu Pacific and was awarded to Russell Porter from Indooroopilly State High School.

Airborne Delivery Challenge Prize Winner School Country
First place A$5,000.00 MUROC DareDivas Mueller College Australia
Second place A$2,000.00 MUROC HexFactor Mueller College Australia
Third place A$1,000.00 Spirit of Niles I Knight High School USA
Search Phase A$2,000.00 Calamvale Euros Calamvale Community College Australia
Insitu Pacific Airmanship Award Trophy Russell Porter (Pilot of Indooroopilly UAV) Indooroopilly State High School Australia

In 2014 the UAV Challenge was organised by ARCAA (a QUT research centre) and CSIRO. It was sponsored by Insitu Pacific, Northrop Grumman, Mathworks, Boeing, CASA, Stanwell Corporation Limited and DSTO. The Challenge was also supported by the Queensland Government, South Burnett Regional Council, UAS-Pacific, and Australian Defence Magazine. The event also had the assistance of personnel from Raytheon Australia, Aviation Australia, V-TOL Aerospace and the Victoria Police Air Wing.

2013 competition[edit]

2013 was a high-school only event with the international Search and Rescue Challenge starting that year but running for two years (with its own event at Kingaroy, Queensland, Australia planned for September 2014). For the second time, the Airborne Delivery Challenge (High-School teams) championship was held at Calvert Radio Aero Modellers Society flying field (approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) west of Ipswich, Queensland). The Challenge took place between September 24 and 25. The competition was very close and was notable because for the first time a high-school team (The Hexfactor for Mueller College) managed to achieve a successful autonomous drop of a chocolate bar to Outback Joe, landing within the required 10m distance to be award bonus points. Although the Hexfactor did not win the event, the fact that they succeeded with some autonomy was a milestone for the UAV Challenge.

Airborne Delivery Challenge Prize Winner
First place A$5,000.00 Calamvale Raptors II
Second place A$2,000.00 MUROC Hawks 2.0
Third place A$1,000.00 MUROC Crazy Cubz
Search Phase A$2,000.00 Calamvale Reapers
Insitu Pacific Airmanship Award Trophy Fletcher Thomas (Riverton and District High School)

In 2013 the UAV Challenge was organised by ARCAA (a QUT research centre) and CSIRO. It was sponsored by Insitu Pacific, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Mathworks. The Challenge was also supported by the Queensland Government, the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems, and UAS-Pacific. The event also had the assistance of personnel from VTOL-Aerospace and Aviation Australia.

2012 competition[edit]

The 2012 event was held at Kingaroy October 1–3 and followed a similar format to the 2010 competition with both a Search and Rescue and Airborne Delivery Challenge. The 2012 Search and Rescue competition actually began in 2011 when the competition was lengthened to 18 months in duration. 2012 saw the introduction of the Search Phase as part of the Airborne Delivery Challenge competitions.

Over 70 teams registered for the Search and Rescue Challenge, with 63 passing the first checkpoint. Over the subsequent 18 months the field was reduced to just six, the rest having either failed to pass certain milestones or withdrawing due to technical difficulties such as crashes. At the event in Kingaroy, four teams launched their aircraft into the range. The main task was not completed by any of the teams.[6] However, two teams did manage to complete a significant portion of their search phase and successfully returned their aircraft to the airport. Team Canberra UAV achieved automatic detection of Outback Joe - the first team to do so in the history of the event.[7] They did not manage to drop the bottle of water due to an in-flight incident prior to the Outback Joe detection when it appeared that the water bottle became loose from the aircraft and fell off.

Thirteen teams competed in the Airborne Delivery Challenge with a winner declared for its Search Phase.[8] The Airmanship Award was sponsored by Insitu Pacific and was awarded to Nina Clark for her outstanding team leadership.

Challenge Grand prize Winners Encouragement awards
Search and Rescue Challenge (Rod Walker Trophy) A$50,000.00 (not completed) First Place: Canberra UAV (A$10,000 and the Rod Walker Trophy), Runners-up in order: OpenUAS (A$5,000), Forward Robotics (A$1,000) and CompassUAV (A$1,000)
Airborne Delivery Challenge A$8,000.00 MUROC Hawks -
Airborne Delivery Search Phase A$2,000.00 MUROC Raiders -
Insitu Pacific Airmanship Award Trophy Nina Clark (Team Captain of Aviation High Thunderbirds) -

In 2012 the UAV Challenge was organised by ARCAA (QUT and CSIRO), AUVS-Australia and Aviation Development Australia Limited. It was sponsored by Insitu Pacific, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, CASA, Mathworks, Aviation Australia, Stanwell Corporation Limited and DSTO. The Challenge was also supported by the Queensland Government, South Burnett Regional Council, UAS-Pacific, the U.S. Office of Naval Research Global, the Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development, and Australian Defence Magazine. The event also had the assistance of personnel from Raytheon, the Royal Australian Navy and the Victoria Police Air Wing.

2011 competition (new format)[edit]

On 16 March 2011, the UAV Challenge organizers announced major changes to the format of the Challenges.[9] Stated changes included a new longer format Search and Rescue Challenge that results in an event at Kingaroy being held every two years instead of every year (as was done from 2007 to 2010) and the development of Australian State Championships for the Airborne Delivery Challenge. The organizers were quoted as saying that they believe this will lead to "more participants competing with a very high standard of UAV capability".

For the first time, the event was not held at Kingaroy. Instead an Airborne Delivery Challenge (High-School teams) championship was held at Calvert Radio Aero Modellers Society flying field (approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) west of Ipswich, Queensland) between September 27 and 28.[10]

Airborne Delivery Challenge Prize Winner
First place A$8,000.00 Calamvale Lightning
Second place A$4,000.00 MUROC Masters
Third place A$2,000.00 Aviation High Team Spectrum
Airmanship award T-shirt and Mars Bar Jordan Tonges (Aviation High Le Phoenix)

In 2011 the UAV Challenge was organised by ARCAA (QUT and CSIRO) and AUVS-Australia. It was sponsored by Queensland Government, had the assistance of Ipswich City Council, and technical staff from Boeing, UAS Pacific and Skills Queensland.

2010 competition[edit]

The 2010 UAV Challenge took place between September 27 and 29. In the Search and Rescue competition a team from the University of North Dakota became the first in UAV Challenge history to successfully locate Outback Joe, managing to pinpoint his location to within 15 m (from 800 ft AGL).[11] However, they failed to drop a water bottle within 100 m (as required by the rules) and hence did not win the A$50,000 prize.[12] Team Robota, from Texas, was awarded second place after their aircraft successfully entered the search area but had to abort the mission due to a technical issue.[13] A total of 49 teams entered the Search and Rescue competition with only six flying at the event.

Challenge Grand prize Winners Encouragement awards
Search and Rescue Challenge A$50,000.00 (not completed) First Place: University of North Dakota (A$15,000), Second Place: Team Robota (A$5,000)
Robot Airborne Delivery Challenge A$10,000.00 (not completed) -
Airborne Delivery Challenge A$5,000.00 Calamvale Hornets -
Documentary challenge A$5,000.00 Latitude 38 UAV N/A

In 2010 the UAV Challenge was organised by ARCAA (QUT and CSIRO), Queensland Government and Aviation Development Australia Limited. It was sponsored by Insitu, CASA, Australian Defence Magazine, AUVS-Australia, Boeing, CAE Inc. and South Burnett Regional Council.

2009 competition[edit]

The 2009 UAV Challenge was announced in the December/January 2008 issue of Aviation Business Asia Pacific magazine. The 2009 event took place between September 28 and October 1. The combined challenge award funds were A$70,000.00. In addition to the traditional Search and Rescue Challenge and Airborne Delivery Challenge, there was a new Robot Airborne Delivery Challenge open to high-school students. The two separate documentary challenges of the previous years were combined into a single Documentary Challenge.

2009 was the first year that teams managed to enter the search area. Team Galah suffered an engine shutdown just inside the search area and made an emergency landing less than 100 m from Outback Joe (although they were not aware of this at the time). Team Melbourne UAV were en route to the search area when high wind conditions flipped their aircraft causing it to enter flight termination mode. The airframe was lost due to high impact with the ground.[14]

Challenge Grand prize Winners Encouragement awards
Search and Rescue Challenge A$50,000.00 (not completed) Melbourne UAV (A$7,500), Team Galah (A$7,500)
Robot Airborne Delivery Challenge A$10,000.00 Look mAh! No Hands!, Brisbane Grammar School -
Airborne Delivery Challenge A$5,000.00 Cloud 9, Aviation High Wynnum North State High School (A$500)
Documentary challenge A$5,000.00 Melbourne UAV N/A

In 2009 the UAV Challenge was organised by the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (a five-year-long partnership between CSIRO and Queensland University of Technology), the Queensland State Government, and Boeing Defence Australia.

2008 competition[edit]

The 2008 UAV Outback Challenge was held between September 22 and 24 and had a combined prize fund of A$70,000.[15] The prize for completing the Search and Rescue Challenge was increased to A$50,000. 51 teams from 8 different countries expressed an interest in entering with 17 finally qualifying for the event. As in 2007, teams failed to complete the Search and Rescue mission, with no teams passing stringent flight scrutineering and hence no flights left the airport for the search area.

Challenge Grand prize Winners Encouragement awards
Search and Rescue Challenge A$50,000.00 (not completed) Telemasters (A$5,000), Missouri S&T UAV Team (A$3,000), QUT SRUAV 08 (A$1,000), Missouri S&T UAV Team (A$500)
High School Payload Delivery Challenge A$10,000.00 Mueller College - MUROC Bush Pilots TSHS Mt Lofty (A$500)
Search and Rescue Documentary Challenge A$8,000.00 Mueller College - MUROC Bush Masters N/A
High School Documentary Challenge A$2,000.00 Brisbane Boys’ College – Bash, Burn and Crash N/A

In 2008 the UAV Challenge was organised by the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (a five-year-long partnership between CSIRO and Queensland University of Technology), the Queensland State Government, and Boeing Defence Australia.

2007 competition[edit]

The first event was held between September 24 and 27.[16] It attracted interest from 43 teams from 6 countries[17] of whom 20 submitted full entries. No teams passed flight scrutineering although Team Dionysus from the USA did demonstrate some autonomous flight at the airport. MUROC I, a high school team from Mueller College, won the inaugural Payload Delivery Challenge.

Challenge Grand prize Winners Encouragement awards
Search and Rescue Challenge A$40,000.00 (not completed) Dionysus
High School Payload Delivery Challenge A$10,000.00 MUROC I (Mueller College) N/A
Search and Rescue Documentary Challenge N/A Dionysus N/A
High School Documentary Challenge N/A MUROC Combined N/A

In 2007 the UAV Challenge was organised by the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (a five-year-long partnership between CSIRO and Queensland University of Technology), the Queensland State Government, and Boeing Defence Australia.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "UAV Challenge - Outback Rescue". ARCAA and Government of Queensland. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  2. ^ "UAV Challenge - Outback Rescue Search and Rescue Competition 2010 rules document" (PDF). uavoutbackchallenge.com.au. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  3. ^ "UAV Outback Challenge Inspires Chelsea to be an Aerospace Engineer". sUAS News. Retrieved 2011-09-27. 
  4. ^ "Professor Rodney Walker co founder of The Outback Challenge passes away". sUAS News. Retrieved 2011-10-11. 
  5. ^ "The Rod Walker Memoria Endowment Fund". 
  6. ^ "UAV CHALLENGE 2012 RESULTS". UAV Challenge Website. Retrieved 2012-10-04. 
  7. ^ "Drone finds dummy 'bushwalker' in world-first". Sydney Morning Herald. 2012-10-05. Retrieved 2012-10-05. 
  8. ^ "UAV CHALLENGE 2012 RESULTS". UAV Challenge Website. Retrieved 2012-10-04. 
  9. ^ "New format for international UAV Outback Challenge to boost competition". sUAS News. Retrieved 2011-03-16. 
  10. ^ "Location Announced for the Airborne Delivery Challenge 2011". UAV Challenge Website. Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  11. ^ "UND team ranked on top in the UAV competition". Topnews. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  12. ^ "UAVs take flight in Queensland". ZDNet. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  13. ^ "Flying robots on the up and up". Shephard. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  14. ^ "Unmanned Aerial Vehicles". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  15. ^ "Pilot-free planes used in mock rescue". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  16. ^ "Teams compete in pilot-less plane challenge". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  17. ^ "Red Flamingo UAV demonstrates Australian rescue challenge missions". Flight Global. Retrieved 2007-09-07. 

External links[edit]