They’ve proven themselves on the battlefield, now unmanned aircraft could be providing vital support during disaster and rescue situations.
A $7 million project supported by the Queensland government and airline manufacturer Boeing called Project ResQu is aiming to find everyday uses for unmanned aircraft.
It’s hoped drones can be used to provide intelligence and vision of situations such as bushfires, search and rescues, coastal surveillance and even weed infestations in forests.
But the project’s research partners from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the CSIRO are first trying to solve how to safely operate unmanned aircraft in busy civilian airspace.
Collision avoidance and finding safe ways to land aircraft in emergencies are among the problems that need to be overcome.
Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA) director Duncan Campbell said there could be many benefits from using drones in disaster relief.
“Small aircraft fitted with cameras will be able to relay vision of the situation in real time,” Professor Campbell said in a statement.
“UA (unmanned aircraft) will enable disaster managers to better target their response to situations as they unfold, helping to ensure that assistance is provided where it’s needed most.”
Professor Campbell said it was hoped technology to operate drones in civilian airspace safely would be operational by 2014.
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