The funding is being spent in a partnership with Boeing, Boeing subsidiary Insitu Pacific, Shell’s QGC project, Telstra and locally based small to medium-sized enterprises providing industry and technical expertise.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project aimed to capitalise on the capabilities inherent in drones to carry out remote monitoring and inspection of key infrastructure.
“Drone technology has the capability of introducing greater efficiencies in a range of Queensland industries and we want to make sure our state develops an industry that delivered jobs as part of this process,” she said.
Technologies to be developed comprise an improved airspace situational awareness prototype system that will allow safe RPAS operations over a broad area and enhance data analytics tools.
Queensland Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch said the project was the first cab off the rank for the government’s recently announced $10 million Advance Queensland Platform Technology Program.
“This aims to test and develop platform technologies – groups of technologies that form a base to take the next technological leap – in areas where Queensland has scientific knowledge and emerging industry strength,” Enoch said.
She said 50% of the jobs created were expected to be in Queensland SMEs in both rural and urban areas.
Director of Phantom Works International, Boeing Defence Space and Security director Dr Shane Arnott said Boeing’s aerospace innovation track record made it a natural choice for the project.
Shell vice-president QGC Tony Nunan said the project had already partnered with Boeing in developing the world’s first commercial use of beyond line of sight RPAS in its gas field operations.
“Landowners will benefit, over time, from fewer visits to their properties while QGC and the community will benefit from reduced driving and piloted flying,” he said.
More than one third of Australia’s RPAS industry is located in Queensland with a number of companies offering RPAS capabilities from aerial photography and surveying to product development and training for RPAS operators.
The global remotely piloted aircraft was valued at $US10.1 billion in 2015 and is expected to account for $US14.9 billion by 2020.