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Boeing Completes Autonomous Synchronised Drone Flight Tests in Australia

Source: Boeing
The Scan Eagle is one of Boeing's autonomous UAV systems. Source: Boeing

Autonomous

Boeing Completes Autonomous Synchronised Drone Flight Tests in Australia

An Australian-made and developed command system for unmanned systems has been successfully tested in a series of UAV tests by aerospace giant Boeing in Brisbane, Queensland.

The system, which allows UAVs to fly in synchronisation by ‘seeing’ and reacting simultaneously with other unmanned vehicles, was tested in a regional Queensland airfield last week, according to the company.

The test is a milestone for Boeing, who announced only 5 months ago their intention to establish the largest autonomous systems development program outside of the USA.

Test flights were conducted using five UAVs which had been equipped with the new on-board command and control system and programmed while in the air with missions which allows the UAVs to perform as one team, without the need for a human pilot.

Boeing Test Flights - Coominya

Boeing Test Flights – Coominya. Image Credit: Boeing

The tests are part of a three year program by the aerospace company that will see them develop next-generation systems for the independent flight and deployment of both aerial and aquatic autonomous vehicles.

“What we’ve created here in Australia has the potential to transform the use of unmanned vehicles for civil, commercial and defence applications – whether that be in the air, on the ground or out at sea,” says Shane Arnott, director of Boeing Phantom Works International.

“This capability will be a huge driver of efficiency and productivity. By safely teaming unmanned systems with human operated systems, we keep people away from dull, dirty and dangerous tasks so they can focus on activities that machines can’t or shouldn’t do.”

When Boeing first announced the program, which comes as part of Queensland’s continuing investment in cutting-edge technologies, Arnott said, “The Queensland Government’s clear vision to invest in cutting-edge industries is backed by a progressive air space regulator, the state’s innovation culture and a talented network of local suppliers – creating an outstanding environment to innovate and experiment with autonomous vehicles and the systems and sensors that drive them.”

As such, Boeing continue to partner with local Australian small and medium-sized enterprises, “to develop transformative ‘brain-on-board’ technology,” Arnott says.

In just the last two months, Boeing has issued $AU2.3 million in contracts with 14 Queensland small and medium-sized businesses.

Over the months to come the aerospace says it will continue to test complex behaviours on their high-tech UAVs before moving on to test the technology in a submarine environment.

This program forms part of a partnership Boeing has entered into with the Queensland Government as part of Boeing’s Advance Queensland Autonomous Systems Platform Technology Project.

Boeing Test Flights – Coominya. Image Credits: Boeing

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