Students test unmanned aircraft skills in competition down under

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A team from the University of North Dakota — including three students from Minnesota — is headed to Australia for an international unmanned aircraft competition.

The Australian international UAV Outback Search and Rescue competition involves using a small unmanned aircraft with cameras to locate “Outback Joe”, who’s a dummy simulating a person lost in the Australian outback.

When they find “Outback Joe” the team has to drop a liter of water from the aircraft within 100 meters (about 109 yards) of the dummy without hitting him. The winner collects $50,000 (Australian).

No team has been successful in the first three years of the competition.

This year the UND team is one of 11 international teams approved to take part in the competition which starts Monday. Event organizers say it’s a way to demonstrate the usefulness of unmanned aircraft.

The UND team will be blogging about the competition.