Emergency detection and response

Smarter, safer skies

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Pilotless autonomous aircraft (known technically as unmanned aircraft systems, UAS) are a rapidly growing sector of the aerospace industry.

They have security-related applications including:

  • infrastructure protection (such as inspection of power lines)
  • surveillance
  • traffic control and pursuit monitoring
  • search and rescue
  • crop identification
  • bushfire prevention
  • communication relays when existing infrastructure has been destroyed.
Small helicopter flying close to a pylon.

CSIRO’s autonomous helicopter has logged 60 hours of incident-free flying.

CSIRO is developing autonomous helicopters and the technologies that support their safe, reliable and cost effective operation, through our joint venture with Queensland University of Technology the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA).

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority mandates UAS be as reliable and safe as conventional aircraft before they are allowed to routinely operate over densely populated areas. A major safety requirement is that UAS be able to land safely in the event of an on-bard failure. To accomplish this, CSIRO is developing Flight Guardian autonomous forced-landing technology.

ARCAA’s earlier Smart Skies project developed a suite of technologies to support the safe and efficient sharing of airspace by UAS and piloted aircraft. These included automated vision-based collision avoidance of midair and ground-based objects and an airspace tracking and management system. We achieved the world’s first demonstration integrating all these technologies in complex scenarios involving up to 50 real and simulated aircraft at once.

Read more in Robust, dependable flying robots.