The Australian government has pledged $32.6 million of support for aviation technologies like drones in the latest budget. In addition to a funding boost, drones will also become a major focus of new security efforts via the development of the National Drone Detection Network, a new system designed to detect drone activity around airports and sensitive locations.
In the newly released Digital Economy Strategy paper, the government outlines the significant security risks associated with new high-tech drones, but also makes clear they’re essential for the future of Australia. It will continue to support the development and advancement of environmentally-friendly drone technologies across Australia in an effort to forge better strategic partnerships with local industries and communities.
The government hopes the budget cash boost will also help to “address priority community, mobility and cargo needs” for those living in regional Australia and unlock a range of knock-on economic benefits.
By using drones to connect communities and streamline business efficiency, the government aims to reduce carbon emissions, grow manufacturing jobs, increase Australia’s capacity for digital farming, boost regional supply chains and improve health outcomes in Indigenous communities. Drones will be a key part of this, but the government will also focus on the development of other flight technologies such as aircraft and alternative EVs.
In addition to this, funds are being devoted to a new Drone Rule Management System, which will allow anyone to access information about drone use in their local area including any restrictions on flying.
But it’s not all good news on this front: the system will “support a new enforcement scheme to allow infringement notices to be issued for minor breaches of airspace rules”. So while it may be a handy system for tracking forbidden airspaces, it’ll also serve as a tracker for all drone activity. Users will need to be more careful when the system goes live around 2023-2024.
Despite the promises of stricter punishments for minor drone offences, this budget goes a long way towards legitimising drone technologies and their potential to improve Australia’s future. While there are still major security concerns to address, the budget boost of $32.6 million will is set to help create a booming local aviation industry that will eventually lead to a more connected Australia.
If this year’s budget is any indication, expect to see drones playing a bigger part in our local industries over the next few years.