Overview

Around the globe, aviation organizations, both public and private, are working to find ways to safely immerse Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into our communities and the existing aviation airspace.

To this end, the Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA) in Australia, is leading the way. During the last year, the group has conducted one of the industry’s first successful trials of an onboard Detect-And-Avoid (DAA) solution for small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) under 20 kilograms, and also an unassisted landing capability for a UAV.

Here’s an inside look at the impressive advancements that the research and engineering team at the ARCAA have developed as part of the recently completed two-year, AU$7-million (US$5.3 million) Project ResQu and the role their advancements will play in emerging, commercially available unmanned systems.

Building on the Basics

Project ResQu is the follow-up program to Smart Skies, a three-year, AU$10 million (US$7.6 million) project initiated in 2008 by ARCAA and its partners, including CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia’s national science agency), Boeing Research & Technology–Australia (BR&T-Australia), Insitu Pacific Ltd., U.S.-based Boeing Research & Technology (BR&T), and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). It was co-funded by the Queensland State Government Smart State Funding scheme. The Smart Skies project team concentrated on advancing key technologies that would enable civilian UAS to be safely operated in non-segregated airspace, thus enabling operators to support the many potential applications for unmanned aircraft.

Dr. Luis Mejias, the Acting Director for ARCAA, says, “With Smart Skies, we focused more on air traffic control and management and developing an automatic program that separates manned and unmanned aircraft.”
In 2011, ARCAA initiated Project ResQu, a follow-up project to Smart Skies, with one of their goals being to evaluate prototype detect-and-avoid technologies on a commercial UAV platform. Due to its size, weight, structure, and proven performance, Insitu Pacific’s ScanEagle was selected as the UAV of choice for the project.

The ScanEagle is a small, low-cost, long-endurance UAS built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing. It was designed for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, disaster and emergency response, aerial survey, and photogrammetry applications.

Project ResQu was co-funded by the Queensland State Government Smart Futures Fund, BR&T-Australia, Insitu Pacific Ltd., CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia’s national science agency), and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).