QLD GOVERNMENT INVESTS IN DRONE TECHNOLOGY

The Queensland Government has announced a $1 million investment in drone technology, which is expected to benefit many industries including mining and energy.

As part of the Advance Queensland program, the funding will go towards developing Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) – otherwise known as drones.

According to the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, the drone technology will advance many Australian sectors such as mining, energy, liquefied natural gas (LNG), telecommunications, agriculture and environmental management, plus search and rescue operations.

“Drone technology has the capability of introducing greater efficiencies in a range of Queensland industries and we want to make sure our state develops an industry that delivered jobs as part of this process,” Palaszczuk said.

It is anticipated that 100 new jobs will be created in Queensland as part of the initiative, which is a collaborative venture between The Boeing Company, Insitu Pacific, Telstra, Shell and other smaller Queensland-based companies.

Queensland Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch said the project would form the basis of the next “technological leap” for many industries.

More than one third of Australia’s drone research and activity is in Queensland, with many contractors already offering drone technology such as aerial photography and surveying for exploration and monitoring activity in resources and energy projects.

QGC AND DRONES

Shell-owned QGC is a Queensland-based gas project that employs thousands of locals. It produces natural gas for domestic markets and exports LNG.

Shell Vice President of QGC Tony Nunan said Boeing and Shell had an existing partnership that had already led to the development of the world’s first commercial use of beyond-line-of-sight drones. For the past 18 months, the partnership has been researching and trialling drones at the QGC project.

The Queensland Government’s recently announced $1 million investment supports the pre-existing partnership between Boeing and QGC.

queensland government drone technology

Since trialling the drones at QGC, the technology has been implemented permanently at the gas fields. RPAS are now used to monitor natural gas wells and infrastructure. Previously, most of this surveying had been carried out on the ground and accessed by four-wheel-drive.It is anticipated the government’s contribution will assist in additional data gathering and analysis. The government expects the additional information collected will enable the technology to be employed by agricultural and other sectors.

As well as increased monitoring and surveying efficiencies, RPAS will have the added advantage of minimising disturbance to nearby landowners and reduce the need for driving or piloted aircraft flying over project areas.

The Queensland Government predicts the global drone market will soar almost 50 per cent in five years to US$14.9 billion by 2020.

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