For the 2014 UAV Outback Challenge the task was to find Joe in a large search area and then drop a bottle of water to him within 20m. Many team members from the current WestCoastUAV team took part as part of two separate teams at the time.

Two of the 10 teams that participated where PerthUAV and H2Joe.  Two members of the WestCoastUAV were in H2Joe and one in PerthUAV.  PerthUAV used an X8 flying wing while H2Joe flew a SkyHunter.

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PerthUAV

PerthUAV, of which I was a team member flew first.  We had a series of equipment failures and were forced to rely on a backup imaging system over a very slow link.  We managed to map the whole search area however as we were waiting for the photos to upload we ran out of time and had to command the aircraft to return without dropping the bottle.  The X8 returned and landed safely were we discovered we had a clear image of Joe in the camera.

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Can you spot Joe?

SFWA was the first team in the history of the Challenge to find Joe and drop a bottle.  They dropped a fair way from Joe.

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Team SFWA

H2Joe took off and flew successfully and travelled well to the search area and started to map successfully however a companion computer malfunction caused the image recognition to not work as well as hoped.  They had a crash on the way back however they recovered the aircraft largely intact.

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Team H2Joe with the remains of their aircraft

In the end after the points were tallied up PerthUAV came in sixth overall.  The winning team was CanberraUAV who got full points for finding Joe and dropping the bottle closest.

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The competition was well organized and well run and the organisers were mightily pleased that someone finally won it after so much trying.  It was an example of how much autopilots progressed that five teams found Joe and dropped a bottle this year after nearly 10 years of no-one even getting to the bottle drop stage.

 

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