QLD SMEs and Boeing to work on world-first technology

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The Queensland government said that their local SMEs are benefitting from a state government’s investment in a remotely piloted aircraft project with Boeing.

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch mentioned late last month that eight Queensland SMEs have already been engaged to provide systems engineering support, and to develop and manufacture hardware for the hi-tech project.

So far, it is understood that 60 staff have worked on the project – 29 in new positions and nine inside Queensland SMEs.

“The Palaszczuk Government awarded $1 million through its Advance Queensland Platform Technology Program to Boeing Defence Australia to develop and build an advanced airspace awareness system hardware prototype,” Ms Enoch said.

“The project will lead to the development of world-first technology to enable the use of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) to inspect and capture critical data on natural resource infrastructure, and with wide application across a range of resource industries.

“Within 12 months, Boeing Defence Australia and Boeing subsidiary Insitu Pacific produced, and are field testing a prototype unmanned aerial system (UAS) situational awareness system, along with a networked common operating picture system.

“They did this in partnership with Telstra and QGC, with the support of eight Queensland businesses including Brisbane’s Fastel Communications, RF Technologies and Syndetic. This system is capable of transmitting aircraft data over Telstra’s cellular network to provide a remote air picture for RPAS pilots, and is a big leap forward for beyond-line-of-sight RPAS operations.”

Ms Enoch said the UAS technologies being developed will have applications across a range of critical industries, including LNG, agriculture, mining, energy, telecommunications, search and rescue and environmental management.

“The technology is being deployed to the Surat Basin to support expansion of RPAS operations across Queensland’s natural gas resources industry. This progress cements Queensland’s reputation as Australia’s leading player in developing civilian UAS technologies and of growing new innovative technology in Queensland.

“By drawing on the capabilities of a big enterprise like Boeing, our Advance Queensland investment is multiplied both in matched investment and in the ability to deliver flow-on benefits for Queensland SMEs, providing them with access to potential international export opportunities as part of Boeing’s global supply chain,” she said.

Boeing Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific president Maureen Dougherty said Boeing had a strong history of partnership innovation in Australia.

“Queensland and Boeing working together on the next generation of cutting edge technology is another milestone in our strong 90-year relationship with Australia,” Ms Dougherty said.

“We greatly appreciate the support of our project partners, the innovative Queensland businesses and the Queensland Government that made the development of this technology a reality.”

Director of Boeing Phantom Works International Dr Shane Arnott said Boeing is focused on integrating technology-driven capabilities that exponentially increase its customers’ abilities to make existing systems smarter and operations safer and more efficient.

“The growth of RPAS technology globally presents a great opportunity for Queensland and the state is naturally well positioned with large open areas to further support development of these technologies,” Dr Arnott said.