After seven years, Australia's rescue-drone challenge has a winner

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James Trew
September 26th, 2014
In this article: australia, drone, outback, uav, uav challenge
After seven years, Australia's rescue-drone challenge has a winner

If you're planning a hike through the Australian outback, and hoping technology will keep you safe, you might want to re-read the small print on your travel insurance. The UAV outback challenge is an annual event designed to promote the use of drones in Australia's expansive inland regions. If anything, it only highlights how far from safety you could find yourself. Each year, teams compete to find "Outback Joe" (a mannequin in high-viz attire) using unmanned craft and -- once located -- deliver him a bottle of water. It's like "Where's Waldo" but harder, and with UAVs. The thing is, since the competition's inception in 2007, no one has managed this -- until now. CanberraUAV was the team that successfully airdropped the liquid payload just 2.6 meters from ole' Joe, finally ending the competition's empty-podium problem. Of course, the real business here is raising awareness about how UAVs could be used in real world safety and rescue situations. But, for now at least, Outback Joe can quench his thirst until the challenge returns next year.

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