2014 Outback Rescue


Team Swiss Fang participated in 2014, successfully took-off at the competition in Kingaroy and made 9th place. We congratulate all the teams that made it to the competition, especially the 4 teams who were able to complete it!

We put together a debrief that describes our intense time in Australia before and during the competition, and explains all the components we used in our system. You can read it here: Debrief OBC 2014 Team Swiss Fang

Sponsors and supporters

We thank all our sponsors and supporters who made this competition entry possible:

  • ETH
  • 3DR
  • slowflyer.ch
  • Fullymax
  • leomotion.ch
  • Families and friends for their enormous patience and support throughout the preparation phase and competition itself.


Team Swiss Fang: Simon Wilks, Lorenz Meier, Thomas Gubler, Julian Oes, Dominik Juchli, Andreas Antener



The UAV Outback Challenge is a prestigious unmanned aircraft competition focused on long-range search and rescue and held biannually in the Australian Outback at Kingaroy Airport.

In contrast to other international competitions, it is geared towards demonstrating an use-case relevant today, forces teams to comply with current CASA safety regulations and is not at all just a “toy-example”. This means in particular:

  • The flight range of up to 100 km requires an aircraft that would also be able to fly real search and rescue missions
  • A strict timeline with milestones and deliverables ensures teams showing up at the final competition location are well prepared and that start slots are only used up by teams that have a chance of solving the competition task
  • Implemented CASA safety regulations not only ensure the competition is held safely, but also demonstrate how such regulations could allow the use of search and rescue UAVs in real scenarios
  • The typically present environment conditions at Kingaroy (heat and wind) require a robust system design, ready for real scenarios

There are of course still differences to a real search and rescue mission, but of all international competitions the Outback Challenge gets very close.


The competition is split into multiple parts with points awarded for each. Maximum points are rewarded for the highest level of autonomy in every phase of the mission. The main elements of the mission are:

  • Launch
  • Flight to the entry point of the search area
  • Execution of a search pattern that will efficiently scan the entire search area
  • Autonomous detection and location of the lost walker (Joe) via a specialised onboard computer vision system
  • Dropping a bottle containing 500ml water on receiving a “go” from the judges
  • Returning to base and landing

Our System

We aimed for full autonomy in our competition entry, from takeoff to landing, including detecting Joe and dropping the water bottle for him.

The aircraft we used is known as the Viper.


The long range search and rescue drone