Queensland Police floats use of drones to fight crime: Report


Townsville MP Scott Stewart reportedly wants the Queensland Police Force to look into the use of drone technology in an effort to curb what has been called a crime crisis in the state's north. According to local media, the MP believes drones are considerably cheaper than helicopters and can be launched within seconds -- travelling in excess of 100 kilometres per hour, with a range of around 7 kilometres -- from a police vehicle. "What I've been trying to do is look at as many different solutions as possible, and cutting-edge drone technology is so much cheaper than a police helicopter," Stewart is quoted as saying. "We need to use the technology now and in the future to fight crime, not costly and old technology like helicopters." Stewart has reportedly put forward his proposal to newly appointed Police Minister Mark Ryan, who is expected to raise the left-field idea with senior police on Thursday.

Queensland government to inject AU 1m into drone technology


The Queensland government has announced a AU 1 million investment in remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) technology, expected to benefit the LNG, agriculture, mining, energy, telecommunications, search and rescue, and environmental management industries. In addition to the cash injection, the state government has partnered with aerospace giant The Boeing Company, in conjunction with Boeing subsidiary Insitu Pacific, Shell's QGC project, and Telstra to further the drone research. Local small to medium-sized businesses specialising in related technology such as aerial photography, surveying, product development, and training for drone operators will also be consulted as part of the venture. "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," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a statement. In addition to creating 500 new jobs, Palaszczuk said she expects the technologies to be developed will include an improved airspace situational awareness prototype system that will enable the safe operation of RPAs over a broad area, as well as tools for enhanced data analytics.

Draft bill gives the government power to control your drone


Drones have been the focus of many security initiatives, like the "sky fence" in the Channel Islands that jams pilot signals to stop drones from bringing contraband into the prison. Remotely piloted aircraft can also be a force for good, like in Africa where drones are being used to stop poaching. In the US, you may not have to register your personal drones with the FAA anymore, but you might not want to fly them where they're not allowed. New draft legislation from the Trump administration would authorize the government to track, take control of, and destroy drones that the government thinks pose a threat to specially designated areas. In addition, courts would be unable to hear lawsuits arising from such activity.

Australia Post to trial drone delivery


Government-owned Australia Post has announced its plans to trial the use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) -- or drones -- to deliver small parcels around the country. According to the postal service, the closed-field trial, which is slated for later this year, is an important next step in testing the new technology which it hopes will result in the faster transportation of time critical items like medication, as well as simply keeping the online shopper happy. Australia Post managing director and CEO Ahmed Fahour let slip last month his interest in using drones to deliver parcels in rural Australia, saying when a driver stops at the farm gate of a property they could use a drone to deliver the mail to the door of the farmhouse, rather than complete the trip up an often long driveway. "We're excited to be the first major parcels and logistics company in Australia to test RPA technology for commercial delivery applications," Fahour said in a statement Friday. "We will put this innovative technology through its paces over the coming weeks and months to understand what it can deliver, how far it can travel, and ultimately, how our customers could receive a parcel.

Queensland government deploying digital meters to reduce spread of banana disease


The Queensland government has announced it is deploying Ergon Energy internet-connected meters in the state's northern region as a "significant" step towards helping local farmers minimise the spread of Panama disease, a fungus that affects the tissues of the banana plant. Up to 600 meters will be installed in the Tully and Innisfail areas, where a majority of Australia's bananas are produced. Due to Panama TR4 biosecurity concerns and strict quarantine measures, Ergon -- a subsidiary of government-owned power company Energy Queensland Limited -- made the decision to stop all entry of their contract meter readers onto farms and install digital meters that could be read remotely, Energy Minister Mark Bailey has said. "Digital meters will avoid the need for meter readers to enter properties and therefore prevent the spread of the disease," the minister said in a statement. There will be no cost to banana farmers for switching to digital meters; however, all affected farmers will be required to accommodate the switchover in the upcoming months.