Airservices Australia has partnered with the Queensland University of Technology to automate the approval for commercial drone flights. The new automated systems plan to speed up the approval process while improving the safety of drone flights.

The automated system will replace the manual system currently in use and will accommodate the increase in drone technology and drone flights within the country. The new system will be in full swing by November.

Robotics and autonomous systems researcher at QUT, Dr. Aaron McFadyen was awarded an Advance Queensland industry research fellowship for the project.

McFadyen shared that the current pandemic and other disasters can cut people off from supplies and services for some time and drones would help fix this as they can be deployed faster and reach the cutoff people much faster.

“Drones can carry these critical supplies, reach more people, up to 50 percent faster and with less human interaction. During a pandemic, disaster, or non-pandemic environments, drone services could be scaled up to reach over 80 percent of our population.”

A benefit of the new automated system is the speed at which a drone flight could be approved in an emergency scenario. Currently, a person is required to look over a flight request and accept it. This wouldn’t need to be done anymore with a system that would be able to accept or decline the flight within a few seconds of receiving the request.

Something I do see that could be a problem is the system automatically denying flights and even emergency flights. The team will have to come up with a way to make sure important flights aren’t blocked by always allowing from a certain requester or something similar.

Airservices executive general manager of customer service enhancement Michelle Bennetts shared:

“We have already seen astonishing growth and innovation in drones across so many industry sectors such as mining, emergency services, and farming, and no doubt there will be many more applications to come. To facilitate RPAS use and innovation for the benefit of Australia, we must ensure they are safely, securely, and efficiently integrated into our national airspace system.”

Photo: Airservices Australia

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