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

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
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
Verstraete
Dr Gareth VioDr Graham
Brooker
Associate
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
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.