Drone delivery services are changing the way communities respond to pandemics and disasters.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, drones have been used to deliver critical medicines and supplies to vulnerable people and isolated communities around the world.
As a recipient of the Advance Queensland Research Fellowship, Dr Aaron McFadyen plans on developing drone management technology to scale up drone services and better prepare Queensland communities for future pandemics and natural disasters.
We caught up with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researcher to discuss how his fellowship will help him with this project.
Could you tell us about your research?
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Airservices Australia are developing new and advanced technologies that will allow for the fast, safe, and automatic approval of drone operations.
The new drone management technology will enable drone services to scale-up in times of need and better prepare Queensland communities to respond to future pandemics and natural disasters.
QUT is excited to work with Airservices, Australia’s Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), to help provide responsible and efficient navigation services to our community.
How will the funding from Advance Queensland support you on your research journey?
The funding will allow us to develop risk-based algorithms that enable automatic and near real-time drone flight approvals in regional and metro locations. These algorithms will be prototyped in a web-based tool hosted by Airservices for use by the airspace manager as well as drone operators. We will test the platform using real drone operations then position the technology for commercialisation.
How will your research benefit and assist Queenslanders?
Flight approval processes are currently manual, slow and costly. Developing a tool that streamlines the approval system will boost the safe use of drones in more locations and enhance Queensland’s readiness for responding to future pandemics and large-scale natural disasters.
Pandemics and large-scale natural disasters can cut people off from vital medication and other essential supplies and services. By using drones, we could reach more people with critical supplies, up to 50 percent faster and with less human interaction.
Whether in a pandemic, disaster or non-pandemic environment, with the right management system, drone services could scale up to reach more than 80 percent of our population.
What does it mean to you to be a recipient of the Industry Research Fellowships program?
It’s an honour to receive a fellowship for research that will benefit Queensland. The funding will enable us to gain insights into the actual collision risk posed by drone operations in Queensland, so we can then develop industry-enabling and world-leading drone management technology to support our communities.