RUASRT to investigate single-photon cameras for UAS

RUASRT are working in conjunction with the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST-G) on the integration of single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) sensor arrays into multi-rotor UAS for mapping, localization, and obstacle avoidance in urban environments. This new technology has the potential to provide information on the UAS’ surroundings at a very high rate in order to facilitate fast decision making. The project is lead by Dr Reece Clothier, Dr Graham Wild, and Dr Alex Fisher of RMIT, and Dr Jennifer Palmer and Dr Dennis Delic of DST-G.

Defence Science and Technology Group

SPADlab @ Politecnico di Milano



New Project to Develop “Ultra Stable” UAV

Prof Simon Watkins, Dr Abdulghani Mohamed and Dr Jennifer Palmer (Defence Science and Technology Group) were recently successful in attracting $45,000 from the Defence Science Institute (DSI) to construct an ultra-stable small UAV capable of flying in high levels of turbulence. This builds on the prior work of rejecting the effects of turbulence by sensing the perturbation upstream of the aircraft. This enables the control system to react in a timelier manner than existing inertial-based systems. It is hoped the prototype UAV will lead to commercialisation of improved turbulence detection and rejection systems, which can be added to new or existing UAVs to enhance their performance.

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RUASRT to develop next-generation ground control station for UAS

RUASRT is working with Melbourne-based company Flight Data Systems to develop a next-generation Ground Control System for remotely-piloted aircraft. The research will explore the use of multi-modal human-machine interface technologies including haptic feedback, auditory responses, multi-touch displays, and tactile controls, in addition to higher levels of autonomy, in order to reduce pilot workload and improve overall system safety. The research will be led by Dr Reece Clothier (Senior Lecturer) and Dr Alex Fisher (Research Fellow).


DSI and UoM Forum on Autonomy

The Defence Science Institute and researchers from the University of Melbourne’s Department of Computer and Information Systems are hosting a research forum titled: “Semi-autonomous systems: trust, control, and letting go“. The will forum will be held on the 10th-11th of November 2015.

The Forum focuses on the relevant challenges in machine reasoning; bringing together researchers and practitioners working in the fields of semi-autonomous systems and human-automation teamwork to discuss challenge problems and potential solutions in the design of semi-autonomous systems for human-agent teams. This includes topics such as trust dynamics, human robot interaction, levels of automation, and situation awareness. RUASRT researcher Dr Reece Clothier is one of the invited speakers at this event.

More information on the event here. To register for the event, click here.

RUASRT Secure New Grant with US Air Force

RUASRT researchers Prof Simon Watkins and Dr Abdulghani Mohamed have recently been granted $117,000 from the USAF for a two year program to further develop and commercialise a patented turbulence detection and rejection system for UAVs.  A prototype system, suitable for MAVs, has already undergone extensive research, development and flight-testing as part of Abdulghani’s PhD. The system has the potential to significantly improve the stability, flight path tracking, and aerodynamic efficiency of aircraft flying through large-scale turbulence. There is also potential to reduce the size, cost, weight and power for aircrafts carrying optical payloads, through removing the need for expensive gimbal-stabilisation systems required to mitigate the adverse impact of turbulence on sensors. This directly translates to improvements in endurance and payload capacity.

Prototype pressure-based system implemented on a micro unmanned aircraft

Prototype pressure-based system implemented on a micro unmanned aircraft

Prototype pressure-based system implemented on a micro unmanned aircraft

Prototype pressure-based system implemented on a micro unmanned aircraft


Parachutes for Small UAVs

RUASRT researchers are currently studying the suitability of using small parachutes for recovering small UAVs. Such recovery techniques represents a method of risk reduction which ensures safe recovery in-case of system failures.

RUASRT researchers have studied the force profiles of the parachute, recorded during the physical testing which is compared against the profiles anticipated through existing traditional analytical methods. By comparing key parameters deduced through wind tunnel testing and predictions from traditional analytical methods, the validity of using traditional principles in designing small parachutes is being determined.

Through optimisation of characteristic dimensions of the parachutes, RUASRT researchers are hoping that they can enhance the effectiveness of the parachutes for small UAVs

RPAS for Fire and Emergency Services

RMIT Researcher Dr Reece Clothier to provide keynote address at the Symposium on RPAS Applications in Fire and Emergency Management.

The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) and National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) are teaming with Australian Association for Unmanned Systems (AAUS), and the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA) to present a one-day user-focused symposium and exhibition on the application of RPAS in Fire and Emergency Management. The purpose is to explore current RPAS capabilities, and risk management in the current regulatory environment.

The symposium will be held in Brisbane on the 30th of June 2015. Registration and more information can be found here.

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Modelling of Urban Winds for UAS Flight

RUASRT researchers, working in collaboration with researchers from the University of Sydney and LEAP Australia, are using state-of-the-art modelling techniques to study the complex wind flow patterns around cities, paving the way for design innovations in building, energy harvesting and drone technology. The  broad area, small scale simulations will allow researchers to better understand the flow structure at low altitudes, which can be used by automated UAS to harvest wind energy or to identify sites where wind turbines could be situated. Check out the video of the simulation results below.

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Demonstration of Automated UAS Security System

Insitu Pacific Ltd, AOS, and the RMIT UAS Research Team have successfully demonstrated the next evolution in security technology. The system uses small multi-rotor unmanned aircraft and a network of remote sensing technologies combined with sophisticated artificial intelligence software to create a fully automated, intelligent, security system.

Called the iWatchDogTM, the system can intelligently respond to intrusions detected by a network of wireless ground-based sensors. The agent-based software deploys the unmanned aircraft to intercept and observe potential intruders, taking into account local weather, sensor feedback, and the location and battery life of the aircraft. The system is able to re-task and re-route multiple aircraft in response to multiple intrusions.

The potential applications for this revolutionary technology include security of large, distributed sites including mines, wastewater processing plants, airports, power plants, defence sites, and other secure areas. The iWatchDogTM system can even be used as an automated scarecrow; protecting fruit orchards from birds and bats.

A series of flights have demonstrated the baseline capability of the iWatchDogTM system. Commercialisation of the iWatchDogTM to specific security applications is now underway.

The research was supported, in part, by the Defence Science Institute, an initiative of the State Government of Victoria and funding provided by the Victoria State Government, Department of State Development, Business and Innovation, Technology Voucher Program.

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