RESCUE MISSION: Ben and Daniel Dyer used their custom-made drone to rescue Outback Joe in their first UAV Outback Challenge.
RESCUE MISSION: Ben and Daniel Dyer used their custom-made drone to rescue Outback Joe in their first UAV Outback Challenge. Tessa Mapstone

Got it first time: Elusive Outback Joe found

A CANBERRA group of unmanned aircraft enthusiasts lifted the title of the 2014 UAV Challenge on Friday.  

The collective group of engineers, teachers, pilots and software developers soared above the rest of the teams to take the $50,000 prize.  

Veterans of the challenge, they came close to completing it in 2012 having located Outback Joe but crucially failed to drop the water supply.  

This year they made no mistake however, successfully dropping the water.  

They weren't the only team to complete the challenge though.

First-time entrants in the UAV Outback Challenge, brothers Daniel and Ben Dyer had no experience with aircraft before they decided to take on the challenge.   

Teams from around the world scoured a seach area with automated drones to find the dummy and deliver life-saving water around Kingaory Airport.  

"We learnt to fly for this," electronics engineer Daniel said.  

"I bought a little remote control air trainer and crashed a lot."  

He admitted to destroying four models of their custom-built aircraft as they worked towards the challenge.   

The pair designed the hardware that flew the plane and developed specialised software to automatically identify objects that might be the lost dummy and send them back to the crew on the ground.   

The 18-month long project to get to Kingaroy took a huge amount of work, but the brothers put their success down largely to luck.

"Our set-up worked as planned, nothing went wrong," Ben said.  

The pair was 45 minutes into their hour-long flight time when they made the water drop to Joe and landed on the runway with 10 minutes to spare.   

The good luck continued later in the day for Texan competitors Team Robota who became the second ever to complete the challenge.   

Some teams were beset with technological issues that dashed their chances of success.  

Perth UAV flew on Wednesday and was hampered by a string of systems failures that led to a heartbreaking situation.  

After landing their aircraft in a field, sustaining some damage and heading into town for coffee, the final pictures from their flight were transmitted to their computer.  

The images showed they had actually found Outback Joe's location, but it was far too late to deliver the water.     

Place Team Country
1 Canberra UAV Australia
2 Robota USA
3 SFWA Australia
4 Team Thunder Australia
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