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White-knuckle ‘Hands-off’ Flying!

UAV Challenge Medical Express lives up to ‘Mission Impossible’ moniker

It’s renowned as the toughest UAV rescue mission on the planet. For good reason; pushing the real-world capabilities of flying robots on the frontline towards the ultimate goal of saving lives.

As the dust settles on Dalby, leaving the winner’s trophy unclaimed in last week’s white-knuckle Medical Express, there are no sore losers.

“They came, they almost conquered and I can guarantee you they’ll be back,” said Australian Centre for Robotic Vision Chief Investigator Jonathan Roberts; one of the brains behind the UAV Challenge which also includes the annual high school Airborne Delivery Challenge.

“Trying to overcome the seemingly impossible is all part of the fun. Cracking the Medical Express challenge really does involve the superhuman. And that’s exactly where we want to take the technology.

“The whole point of the competition is to advance UAV design, software and communications systems so that these flying robots can go where it is too dangerous or remote for human-led rescue efforts alone.

“Two of the teams came very close and that’s a huge achievement in itself.”

Organised by QUT with the support of the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision and co-organiser CSIRO’s Data61, the UAV Challenge stakes its claim as the world’s biggest airborne robotics challenge – in the process, turning the rural Queensland community of Dalby into a global ‘UAV capital’.

This year, a line-up of 11 teams from across Australia, Poland, Thailand, the Netherlands and India descended on Dalby, qualifying to  contest the Medical Express challenge from a pool of 55 entries. The Mission Impossible-esque competition requires UAVs to not only autonomously land in difficult, unseen conditions having flown up to 30km from take-off, but return swiftly and safely with precious cargo – namely, a blood sample from a stranded, fair dinkum dummy, Outback Joe.

Outback Joe’s perilous life-or-death situation is further amplified by the addition of simulated flash flooding, while, in the air, UAVs must contend with potential air strike from magpies during swooping season, not to mention simulated obstacles like commercial planes.

Click here for a full wrap-up, including team rankings.

The 2018 UAV Challenge was 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.

Shelley Thomas
Communications Specialist, Australian Centre for Robotic Vision
+61 7 3138 4265 | M: +61 416 377 444 | E: shelley.thomas@qut.edu.au

PostedOctober 02, 2018

Australian Centre for Robotic Vision
2 George Street Brisbane, 4001
+61 7 3138 7549