news The Queensland Government has invested $1m in drone technology – a move that the State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said will lead to 100 new aerospace industry jobs.
The project marks the first funding being made available as part of the State Government’s new $10 million Advance Queensland Platform Technology Program.
The initiative will see the state work with aerospace giant Boeing, as well as Boeing subsidiary Insitu Pacific, Shell’s QGC project, Telstra and local enterprises providing industry and technical expertise.
In a joint statement with Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch, Premier Palaszczuk said the funding will be used to develop and test “cutting-edge” remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) technologies.
Ultimately, the aim is for these technologies to be adopted by “critical industries” including LNG, agriculture, mining, energy, telecoms, search and rescue, and environmental management.
“The project aims to capitalise on the capabilities inherent in drones to carry out remote-monitoring and inspection of key infrastructure and data analysis to allow for better decision-making,” Premier Palaszczuk said.
“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 enable safe RPAS operations over a broad area and enhanced data analytics tools.
“This aims to test and develop platform technologies – groups of technologies which form a base to take the next technological leap – in areas where Queensland has scientific knowledge and emerging industry strength,” said Minister Enoch.
Fifty per cent of the jobs created are expected to be within Queensland’s small to medium enterprises in both rural and urban areas, she added.
Tony Nunan, Shell’s Vice President QGC, 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.
“QGC is proud to be introducing into the project’s operations an emerging technology that will benefit both the resources and agriculture sectors,” Nunan said. “Landowners will benefit, over time, from fewer visits to their properties while QGC and the community will benefit from reduced driving and piloted flying.”
The Queensland Government is currently forming a 10-year aerospace roadmap and action plan with the aim of making Queensland the “hub” of the Asia-Pacific aerospace industry.
The global market for remotely piloted aircraft was valued at US$10.1 billion in 2015 and is expected to account for US$14.9 billion by 2020, according to the joint statement.
More than a third of Australia’s RPAS industry is located in Queensland, and the state is home to a number of companies offering a range of RPAS capabilities from aerial photography and surveying, to product development and operator training.
The $10 million Advance Queensland Platform Technology Program is part of the $405 million Advance Queensland initiative, which has been set up by the State Government to turn Queensland into a “knowledge-based economy and boost create the jobs of the future”.
Image credit: Telstra