The world’s biggest airborne robotics challenge is set to touch down in rural Queensland next week (24-28 September 2018), with more than 150 competitors from Australia and around the world.
All eyes will be on the high-tech unmanned aerial vehicles – and a mannequin named “Outback Joe”, who represents a patient in urgent need of medical assistance.
Now in its 12th year, the UAV Challenge, organised by QUT with the support of the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision and co-organiser CSIRO’s Data61, attracts dozens of teams, keen to show off their flying robots and how their skills can be used to advance the capabilities of emergency UAVs.
QUT Robotics Professor Jonathan Roberts said the teams would be tasked with navigating remote terrain, bad weather and an onslaught of obstacles – including simulated flocks of birds.
“The UAV Challenge will see flying robots of all shapes and sizes, weighing-in anywhere from 3kg, which is about the weight of a brick to around 20kg, which is more like three bowling balls and resembling everything from mini planes to UFO-like contraptions,” Professor Roberts said.
“There will be a few white-knuckle moments, as the teams work to reach poor Joe, who will find himself lying in a paddock this time around – but it will also be a lot of fun and very rewarding.
“Over the years, the UAV Challenge has inspired advances in drone design as well as software and communications systems, not least being enhancements to the functionality and codebase of open source autopilot software, ArduPilot, which is now embraced by major players such as Microsoft and Boeing.”
A record line-up of 12 qualifying teams, hailing from Australia, Poland, Thailand, the Netherlands, Canada, India and China, have made the cut to contest the open Medical Express challenge.
To win the maximum prize of $75,000, their UAV needs to successfully complete the mission without pilot intervention.
A further 12 teams of high school students from the United States, Korea and Australia will take on the Airborne Delivery Challenge.
The UAV Challenge will be held at the Dalby Model Aero Club, 743 Cecil Plains Road, Dalby, Queensland:
- 24-25 September 2018: an annual high school Airborne Delivery Challenge that requires teams to use a UAV to drop an EpiPen to a stranded individual, suffering an allergic reaction
- 26-28 September 2018: the biennial open Medical Express challenge that requires UAVs to autonomously land in difficult, unseen conditions; fly up to 30km from take-off and return swiftly and safely with a blood sample from the stranded patient.
The 2018 UAV Challenge is sponsored by: Queensland Government; Insitu Pacific and Boeing Research & Technology – Australia; Northrop Grumman; Lockheed Martin Australia; Defence Science and Technology Group (part of the Australian Government Department of Defence); and MathWorks. Members of the public are welcome to join the UAV Challenge as spectators.