This page provides news on the RMIT UAS Research Team, information on UAS conferences, and industry activities.

AMAV 2017 at RMIT

RMIT students from the Engineering Unmanned Aircraft Systems elective competed at the second Australian Micro Air Vehicles competition on 19th October 2017. This year’s event was held at the Greensborough Model Aircraft Club (GMAC).

Students worked very hard on their design, build, and fly projects during the 12-week course. Where they were tasked with using the components provided to create a unique quadcopter capable of navigating the obstacle course, reading the QR codes posted throughout the “city” and safely delivering a medical payload to our “injured” crash-test dummy. Eight teams competed, with several electing to pilot the craft themselves. Many were able to read several of the QR codes, fly successfully (despite high winds), and drop the payload.

Several prizes were awarded to the students for their efforts, with the overall winners announced as Team 6 (with a score of almost 400 points!). Several students were given piloting awards for their skills and everyone should be proud of their achievement.

We are very grateful to GMAC for their support in hosting this event.





RMIT Research Excellence Award

The RMIT Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research Team (RUASRT) has been listed as a successful nominee for the RMIT Research Excellence – Team Award. This is a part of the 2017 Vice Chancellor’s and RMIT Research Awards and Prizes event which celebrates the hard work and accomplishments of students, academics, and groups throughout RMIT. We’re extremely proud to have our efforts recognised at this level, and it only adds to our motivation. Well done, team!

RUASRT’s IMAV Outdoor Entry

Matt and Ashim preparing the flying-wing mapper

The International Micro Air Vehicles (IMAV) Competition and Conference has both an indoor and outdoor event. RUASRT took it upon themselves to enter both. For a general overview of how the 9th annual IMAV went, see this page. The outdoor event took place the day after the conference, at an airfield just outside Toulouse. It had several challenges associated with it, the main one being a search-and-rescue style event. Points were awarded for automatic take-off, precision (automatic) landings, mapping the required area, classifying and identifying points of interest on that map, completing as many laps of a designated area as possible within the time-frame, and a cooperative carrying challenge.

Ashim hand-launching the pylon racer


RUASRT had two fixed-wing craft to attempt as many challenge elements as possible. This included a pylon racer for the endurance-challenge around two pylons, capable of speeds up to 150 km/h, and a blended-wing for aerial mapping. The competition focuses on high levels of autonomy so more points were awarded when elements were completed with little-to-no manual input from the team.

Matt, Ashim and Ethan planning their test flight

Our pylon racer was capable of completing many laps around the designated points autonomously (and did so perfectly on the practice day), but on the competition day struggled to turn within the restrictive geo-fence.

Ashim and Ethan on the practise day

Our mapping vehicle successfully flew over the entire area required for mapping, during which time photographs are automatically triggered at a desired interval. Once the MAV landed and the photographs were automatically transferred for photo-stitching and target identification, it was discovered that only a portion of the images expected were present. As a result our image stitching software was unable to find enough matches to create the required map. This also meant we did not get a chance to demonstrate our MATLAB script which automatically searched for brightly coloured objects and classified them by size and shape.

Automatically generated map of a test field

The outdoor team was led by Dave Tennent, Dr Matt Marino, Ashim Panta, John Bueker, and Ethan Moyle. The team is very proud of what they were able to achieve, despite the logistical challenge of getting delicate fixed-wings all the way to France. On their return, they plan to invest more time into their mapping MAV to make the autonomy aspect more robust.

Abdulghani, Matt, and Ashim on the competition day

Well done!



RUASRT Successfully Competes in IMAV 2017

RMIT Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research Team successfully competed in the 9th annual International Micro Air Vehicle (IMAV) conference and competition, which was held 18th-21st September in Toulouse, France. IMAV is an annual event fostering key technologies for the development of micro-air vehicles.  It combines a scientific conference and a flight competition attracting upwards of 30 teams from around the world.

RUASRT elected to enter three events: indoor, outdoor, and record breaking heavy-lift challenge. Of all the teams from multiple countries across the world, we were the only team from Australia and the only team to enter purely on an extra-curricular basis (i.e. our entire entry was developed during our spare time and not directly linked with other current research projects).

Sam with the Parrot sponsors

Sam with his “Record Breaking Session” winning octocopter

Whilst not winning the competition outright, aerospace PhD student Sam Prudden won the “Record Breaking Session” with the smallest craft lifting an anvil-shaped mass of 0.5 kg for over a minute.  He also set the fastest time for a drone race sponsored by the international drone manufacturer, Parrot, taking 40 seconds to fly three laps and beating the nearest team by a massive 15 seconds. Well done, Sam!


Professor Simon Watkins presented a keynote lecture as a part of the IMAV conference proceedings which gave an overview of RMIT research entitled; “Towards better MAVs and what we can learn from the birds and the bees”.  Additionally, Mr Ashim Panta and Dr Abdulghani Mohamed (on behalf of Mr Rohan Gigacz) both presented some of their recent research across the two conference days. The conference proceedings can be found here:

The RUASRT IMAV team comprised of staff members; Matthew Marino, Abdulghani Mohammed, Alex Fisher and Simon Watkins;  postgraduate students; Sam Prudden, Nicola Kloet, Ashim Panta, Lance Fang, Tom Newnham, and undergraduate students; Ethan Moyle, James Kennedy, David Tennent, Angie Knight, John Bueker, and Neil Shah. On behalf of the team, we would like to thank everyone who assisted us with our MAV development and allowed us to travel all the way to France for this opportunity. A special mention goes to RMIT University, their Advanced Manufacturing Precinct, and DST Group.

We are also proud to announce that RMIT won the bid to host IMAV2018 in November 2018 which will be the first time the event will be held in the Southern Hemisphere.  We look forward to hosting the best teams in the MAV-world at RMIT in 2018!

RUASRT entering IMAV 2017

The only Australian team to enter the International Micro Air Vehicles (IMAV) competition and conference in 2017 (or, in fact, ever) is from the RMIT Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research Team (RUASRT). The team, drawn from enthusiastic undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as academics, have worked tirelessly over the last few months on their entry for both the indoor and outdoor events. Both events require craft with high levels of autonomy in order to complete the challenges and successfully navigate the obstacles. RUASRT has developed several UAS capable of successfully completing the challenge: This includes a fixed-wing pylon racer, a flying-wing aerial mapper, quadcopters with a full sensor suite, and a micro-X8 heavylift.

Some of these challenges for the indoor competition include navigating without GPS through a turbulent (windy) environment and small spaces, and identifying the correct location to drop a life-saving payload – all without any input from the team during the flight. For this, the team has created a small quadcopter with propeller protection and a sensor stack capable of Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM).

The outdoor section is search and rescue style, with the team required to map an area and identify points of interest, as well as an endurance challenge. For this, they have created fixed wing platforms – one to complete laps of the required area for the endurance challenge and another to take photos of the mapping area and send them wirelessly to the team computers for automatic photo-stitching and feature identification.

The team is very excited for this competition, and we were recently featured on the RMIT website -check it out here:

RUASRT Undergraduate Student Achievement Prize Winner

The winner of the inaugural RUASRT Undergraduate Student Achievement Prize for 2017 has been announced – David Tennent. This prize is awarded to an undergraduate student member of RUASRT who has demonstrated a high level of commitment to the team, motivation to improve our research capability and demonstrated outstanding leadership ability. This award comes with a cash prize of $2000.

David has worked tirelessly in his efforts as undergraduate team leader this year, mentoring less-experienced students through their design, build and fly projects. Of particular note are his contributions to this year’s Open Day, preparations for the International Micro Air Vehicle (IMAV) competition, and general lab administration and organisation (which is vitally important to any organisation’s efficiency). He has proven himself as an exemplary team player and we thank him for his hard work.

Good on you, Dave!

RMIT Open Day Success

We had a great time at Open Day talking to all the prospective RMIT students. Thanks to all who visited for asking interesting questions. Thanks also go to the volunteers who helped set up, pack up, and gave their time on a Sunday to either (or both) of our stands. We look forward to doing it all again next year!

Our largest UAS, Javelin, carrying our smallest, MARV3.0

Open Day this Weekend

RMIT Open Day is fast approaching and we’re all really excited to answer your questions and show off our projects. If you’re attending, make sure you visit us in Building 55 – Advanced Manufacturing Precinct (AMP), where we’ll have most of our lab out for you to see. 

  • See, in person, the X8 octocopter which had its first test flight only days ago and talk to the students who built it.
  • Speak with undergraduate students from all year levels, as well as some of our doctoral candidates.
  • See “Eddie the Eagle”, our bio-inspired, eagle-shaped soaring platform for bird scaring.
  • Our largest fixed-wing platform (with a 3.0m wingspan), Javelin, will be on display.
  • Our smallest UAS (weighing only 100g), MARV will also be there for you to see.

Don’t miss it. We’ll see you there!

RMIT Open Day Planner:

RUASRT on Facebook:



RUASRT on Display at Open Day

This Sunday, 13th August, is RMIT Open Day  and we will be there showing off our stuff from 10am.

A wide range of our projects will be on display at the Advanced Manufacturing Precinct (AMP – Building 55) for you to look at. RUASRT members will be happy to answer any and all of your drone related questions (they can probably be persuaded to talk about non-drone, engineering-related things too).

If you want to see some of the projects we’ve been working on this year, or are keen to know how you could get involved as an RMIT student, make sure you stop and say hi; we’d love to chat with you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook for updates!