Unmanned Helicopters To Be Sent On Science And Rescue Missions In Queensland

Get to the tiny chopper! The CSIRO has teamed up with the likes of Boeing and the Queensland University of Technology to develop unmanned helicopters for use in disaster recovery and scientific missions.

It's called Project ResQu and it sees $7 million thrown at a project to send unmanned helicopters on disaster response missions and other scientific endeavours throughout Queensland.

Missions will include locating survivors in extreme weather scenarios like last year's Queensland floods and mapping weeds in rainforests throughout the state.

The helicopters are in a rough prototype stage at the moment, and research into how they can be refined will continue through to the end of 2014, when the CSIRO hopes that regulations for the use of UAVs in civilian airspace have changed.

One component the CSIRO is already investigating is sensor technology that can be strapped to the drones that enable them to figure out where other aircraft are in order to avoid them, allowing safe landings in emergencies.

Professor Duncan Campbell, director of the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation at the Queensland University of Technology says that he hopes the research will improve the adoption of UAVs in urban areas all over Australia.

Check out one of the choppers taking off in this video. They're not exactly stealthy, but I won't say no to having a go of one.

Image and video: CSIRO



    You can't 'have a go' Luke, they're unmanned :P :P :P

    What's the point of doing science if you don't get to go on junkets? They're the only perk of the job!

    We use UAV for high accuracy low altitude aerial survey. Ours are shaped like a B2 stealth bomber and carry a 12MP camera, GPS, Autopilot and wifi com link to a laptop. Fantastic device and for many the future of small scale aerial mapping. I get paid to fly the thing!

    CASA just need to sort out their regulations as it's a big grey area at the moment.

    I don't understand why they choose a collective rc helicopter. Why don't they use quadcopters? They are much more stable, easier to control, cheaper, their gps technology are quite mature, less moving parts and easier to work with. Us FPV rc guys have been using quadcopters to shoot aerial images/movies for a while now. Unmanned or gps controlled quadcopters can be had for less than $3000.

      We use collective helicopters because multirotors don't have enough endurance for our tasks. With the helicopters we will be trying to do surveys for invasive weeds in rain forests which will take many hours of flight time. A good quadcopter may have a useable endurance of about 20 minutes, but by the time you take off, get to the survey area which may be a kilometre away, and allow time to get back including a safety margin there's not much time left to do the job.

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