Credit: University of Sydney

Credit: University of Sydney

University of Sydney to develop next-gen Small Unmanned Aerial System to enhance defence capability

Aerospace engineers from the University of Sydney are part of a cohort of industry and research organisations to develop a next-generation Small Unmanned Aerial System (SUAS) for use by Australian soldiers.

The Australian Army recently announced it had partnered with the Defence Innovation Hub to award three innovation contracts totalling A$783,000 to Australian industry and research organisations to develop the SUAS.

In a statement, Australian Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne congratulated these organisations and thanked them for stepping up to answer the capability challenge presented by the Army. Minister Pyne said that Defence units have an enduring need to be able to detect, observe and classify potential threats as they move through hazardous environments. He also said that SUAS capability enables airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities.

The team from the University of Sydney’s School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering (AMME) was awarded A$249,524 to develop a lightweight unmanned aerial system that combines vertical take-off capabilities with horizontal fixed wing flight for extended speed and endurance. The system will be supported by a suite of cutting edge communication, control and sensor payloads.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence commented said this contract provided a great collaborative opportunity to utilise the University’s world-class aerospace research.

Work on this project will be led by pioneering Unmanned Aircraft Systems researcher Associate Professor KC Wong, along with Dr Dries VerstraeteDr Gareth VioDr Graham BrookerAssociate Professor Peter Gibbens, and Richard Cislowski from Commercial Development and Industry Partnerships at the University of Sydney. Industry partners AMSL Aero, Mission Systems, FluroSat, and Adroita will also contribute to the project.

“This builds on our long-standing aerospace research expertise in developing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) with unique flight and mission performance, and will allow us to integrate multidisciplinary elements from across our School of AMME and our partners, towards developing a sovereign next-generation SUAS with distinctive capabilities,” Associate Professor Wong said.

The contracts were selected as part of the new Special Notice platform trialed by the Defence Innovation Hub, which allows capability managers to call for industry and research organisations to submit proposals in response to specific capability challenges.

In a statement, UAS Program Manager with the Australian Army, Lt Col Keirin Joyce, highlighted the vigour of the selection process.

“Industry provided us 47 submissions that we shortlisted down to 15 collaborating proposals and we have selected three to work with us on the Small UAS of the Future,” Lt Col Joyce said.

Other contracts were awarded to: (1) JAR Aerospace from NSW to develop a hybrid vertical take-off and landing with fixed wing unmanned aerial system that will incorporate target tracking, encryption and acoustic sensing and analysis at an extended range, and (2) SYPAQ Systems from Victoria to further develop their small unmanned aerial system that has vertical take-off and landing capacity with an extended flight time. It also has a ground control operating system appropriate for use on both Windows and Android platforms.

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