Aerospace research to save lives

Aerospace research to save lives

03 September 2010

published by news.smh.com.au


Australia — Research projects at a newly-opened Brisbane aerospace centre could save lives by preventing mid-air collisions and see pilotless aircraft fighting bushfires, experts say.

The Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA) officially opened on Friday and will be a base for work into cost-saving, and potentially life-saving technologies.

Treasurer Andrew Fraser, who opened the centre, said the hub was developing new ways of using pilotless aircraft for civilian, rather than defence, use.

Mr Fraser said there were enormous opportunities to use such aircraft, including for stock, pest and weed monitoring, fighting bushfires, and inspecting power lines, traffic snarls and reef health.

“And in a state as big as ours, anything that can help us overcome the disadvantages of distance and isolation in rural and regional areas has got to be embraced,” he said.

But while unmanned aerial vehicles will be a major focus at the centre, it’s also developing safer flight-test technologies like automated mid-air collision avoidance.

ARCAA researcher Dr Luis Mejias said such technology to help small planes detect danger earlier could save lives.

“Mid-air collisions between light planes over Australia have caused the death of eight people in the past five years,” he said.

Dr Mejias said pilots had to rely primarily on their own eyes to avoid other planes during take-off and landing, which could be a difficult task during a time of high workload.

The new system used an onboard camera, special hardware and image processing algorithms to detect potential mid-air collisions.

“Recent flight testing has shown that these early warnings can be provided up to four times sooner than the minimum warning time required by a human pilot,” Dr Mejias said.

He said the system could not only improve the safety of standard aircraft but also allow unmanned aircraft the collision avoidance capabilities necessary for them to fly in civilian airspace.

The centre is a collaboration between the Queensland University of Technology and CSIRO.


WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien