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.
The Queensland government has announced amended legislation that now allows the state's farmers to use drones to spray their crops. Acting Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne said the changes to the Agricultural Chemicals Distribution Control Act 1966 and the regulations that underpin it will give Queensland farmers access to the most "innovative aerial spraying technology" available. "The government is keen to give our producers all the advantages made available by advances in technology," Byrne said. "The improvements to the legislation provide Queensland producers with cost effective options for crop protection." Byrne expects the technology to be especially useful for chemical application in areas with limited access or difficult terrain, noting that where conventional equipment cannot be used, spraying from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) represents a safe and effective option.
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.
Boeing and the Queensland government have announced a partnership that sees the Sunshine State become the home of Boeing's production facility for unmanned defence aircraft. Boeing said the facility would build the company's Airpower Teaming System, and it would be the first time a Boeing military aircraft has been designed and developed outside of the US. The pair also claimed that it would be the first military aircraft to be designed, engineered, and manufactured in Australia in over 50 years. "Our investment in this advanced manufacturing project will provide critical skills for suppliers, academia, and Boeing, and culminate in Queensland becoming the primary final assembly facility for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, conditional on orders," Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a statement. "Supporting this project is a significant investment in the Queensland defence and manufacturing industries and will strengthen ties between Australia and the global defence market."
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), alongside Airservices Australia, on Wednesday announced a trial of a new digital, automated process that is aimed at expediting the approval processes of remotely piloted aircraft operations. According to the organisations, the application process currently takes weeks to complete before commercial drone operators are allowed to take flight. With the trial, CASA and Airservices hope to create an application process that reduces the time required from weeks to seconds. "Moving to digital approval processes is a key initiative for CASA, streamlining interactions and making it easier for operators," CASA acting-CEO and Aviation Safety director Graeme Crawford said. The trial digital process will be delivered through CASA's remotely piloted aircraft systems digital platform, with Airservices and the Queensland University of Technology to develop designated maps that will be used to conduct the relevant analysis required for these automated authorisations.