A new public-private program in Queensland has been started to try and push the development and use of unmanned flight technology, particularly in environmental and emergency applications.
Project ResQu, which is made up of UAV experts from Queensland University of Technology, the CSIRO, Boeing Research & Technology Australia and a subsidiary, Insitu Pacific, is a seven million dollar project designed to become something of a research hum for this kind of tech.
"As a result of our research, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) fitted with cameras will be able to help pinpoint communities and people in need of rescue during natural disasters and to regularly monitor the health of the environment such as finding invasive weeds in rainforests," said Associate Professor Duncan Campbell of the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA) in a press release.
As we reported in our May issue of Australian Popular Science, Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is currently conducting a review of civil UAV regulation in this country, and part of Project ResQu's objective is to provide recommendations to CASA about the new regulatory system.
As Dr Campbell told us at the time, two of the major obstacles to more widespread use of UAVs are the technological issues of being able to reliably see and avoid other aircraft, as well as to make emergency landings automatically if required, and these will form the two critical technological breakthroughs the Project will try to achieve.
The research conducted by Project ResQu will also be used to fit UAVs for flyovers of bushland and rainforest.
Dr Campbell has said the team's research will be complete sometime mid-2014.
$2 million worth of funding is also coming from a Queensland Government grant.