14 April 2014
Surf lifesavers, police, fire fighters and rescue workers across Australia and around the world could benefit from new unmanned surveillance technology developed in Brisbane, after the signing of an agreement today.
Brisbane-based air, ground and marine robotics company V-TOL Aerospace will manufacture a prototype unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed by researchers at The University of Queensland.
The UAV, designed by Dr Paul Pounds from UQ’s School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, could replace piloted helicopters in search and rescue or surveillance operations for a fraction of the cost, with reduced maintenance and risk to people.
Dr Pounds said his unique design for a new type of quadrotor UAV – a helicopter lifted and propelled by four independent propellers – was more agile, responsive and energy efficient than existing quadrotor designs.
“It combines the aerodynamic efficiency of a helicopter with the simplicity and robustness of a quadrotor,” he said.
“I'm excited to be able to work with V-TOL Aerospace to take this technology out of the lab and into the field, where I believe it will prove to be the ideal platform for police and emergency responders.”
V-TOL Aerospace Managing Director Mr Mark Xavier said the company was ready to take the UAV to the global market.
“V-TOL will develop not only the product, but the regulator-approved training and support services required to make this product Civil Aviation Safety Authority compliant,” he said.
“This will make it very attractive for export.”
Science and Innovation Minister Ian Walker has welcomed the agreement.
“It once again demonstrates Queensland’s growing reputation as a major hub for UAV research and development in the Asia-Pacific region,” Mr Walker said.
“I think what we’ve got right with UAV technology development in Queensland is the strong relationship we have between industry and research and the V-TOL and UQ agreement is a great example of that.”
V-TOL Aerospace's Mark Xavier, left, and UQ’s Dr Paul Pounds
UQ commercialisation company UniQuest today signed an agreement licensing intellectual property for the design to V-TOL.
UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said the agreement reflected the value of UQ’s and UniQuest’s industry engagement strategy.
“This agreement is an excellent example of research and industry coming together to deliver tangible benefit for the community,” Dr Moss said.
Mr Xavier said V-Tol Aerospace recognised the broader value of the agreement.
“This relationship is a significant opportunity to demonstrate how local industry can work closely with Queensland’s premier academic and research institution to develop an innovative hi-tech product in an emerging global industry,” he said.