Unmanned aircraft could send info on Qld emergencies

QUEENSLAND researchers believe they have made a global breakthrough that could soon see small unmanned aircraft travelling over disasters to provide real time vision without putting human lives in danger.

Instead of sending crews in helicopters up to inspect cyclone, flood or bushfire emergencies or damage in blocks of three to four hours, these small aircraft can fly for many hours across regional Queensland sending information back to pilots on the ground.

They could identify people on rooves needing rescue during floods, assess damage in areas inaccessible by road and pinpoint where our emergency responders need to go first.

Researchers say the latest technology breakthrough, which relates to on-board detection sensors that warn when other aircraft are nearby, is a huge step in the worldwide race to get small unmanned aircraft sharing civilian airspace.

Science and Innovation Minister Ian Walker said the technology could have life-saving outcomes in disaster situations including bushfires and floods.

“As we witnessed last week during Tropical Cyclone Dylan, flooding can occur anywhere and at any time,” Mr Walker said.

“This technology could see unmanned aircraft carrying out low level flying to assess risk and damage, keeping our emergency service workers out of harm’s way.

“Previously, without detection and avoidance technology, the aircraft were limited to non-civilian airspace.

“The Project ResQu initiative has received $1.8 million in Queensland Government funding so far, with a further $200,000 to be paid later this year.”

Mr Walker said scientists at the Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation were the first to crack the on-board detection technology…

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