The fourth annual Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Outback Rescue challenge has wound up in regional Queensland this week, which saw international teams build pilot-less aircraft to compete for $50,000.
Ten teams from around the world had to build an automated UAV, completely independent of human control, and use it to locate a mannequin stranded in the desert, and from the air, drop a water bottle to it.
No team completed the mission with total success; however, the team from the University of North Dakota came within range of the mannequin, but the UAV failed when it dropped its water bottle payload too early.
The North Dakota team was awarded a $15,000 "encouragement prize" for its efforts in locating the downed mannequin.
Another US team made it into the vicinity of the mannequin, thwarted only by a technical fault that saw the UAV abort its mission and return to base.
The UAV challenge is a joint event organised by the Queensland State Government, the CSIRO, Queensland University of Technology, Aviation Development Australia and the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation.
Teams from Australia, the US, Brazil and Holland came together to compete in the event.
The challenge also included a student category where teams were allowed to control their aircraft via remote control, relying on video and aeronautical information to successfully drop the mannequin a chocolate bar.
Students from Calamvale Community College successfully completed the mission, dropping a chocolate bar right between the mannequin's legs.
Event co-founder and CSIRO scientist, Dr Jonathan Roberts, said that this year's competition was the best yet.
"The teams were even more professional and the level of safety they displayed was exceptional. Hopefully next year they'll make that drop to [the mannequin]," he said.