By Chris Stonor
Australia is testing a “traffic control system” for drones, reports coverdrone.com. Geelong, in the State of Victoria, has successfully completed a trial of such a system for low altitude aircraft, paving the way for safer and more efficient management of drones across Australia. The system was tested as a partnership between Telstra, Thales, Australian Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (AUAV) and the city of Greater Geelong.
This location was chosen due to the regions varying geography, as well as the city’s dedicated Smart Cities team. The Geelong Low Altitude Airspace Management (GLAAM) Initiative demonstrated that drones can be operated safely in a semi-urban environment as well as be used effectively in the development of Australia’s Smart City Concepts. The system allows drones to fly in low altitude airspace (below 400ft).
For approval, applicants must share information such as the proposed drone flight path, the details of the pilot and the reason for the journey. The current process in place for approving such flights is slow and complex, which is slowing the progress of usage in various services and industries.
Councillor Stephanie Asher, Mayor of Geelong, said, “The City is committed to supporting innovation as a way to attract new industries. Building the technology industry in our region will greatly benefit the community by increasing job opportunities and creating a more resilient and diversified economy. Drone technology can also help us do things faster, smarter and safer for our community”.
There are various ways drones can improve City services including property building and roof maintenance (buildings can be safely inspected and maintained without the need for working at heights); tree inspections; coastline mapping (High-quality images can assist the monitoring of coastal changes and erosion); and 3D data collection (High-quality photographic surveys are able to capture a growing and changing region for the benefit of planners, surveyors, and architects).
The GLAAM initiative enables authorities to notify drone pilots if required to change a flight path or land to clear airspace in emergencies. The system can also help prevent potential privacy violations and improve community safety by requiring pre-approvals for flights.
Findings from the GLAAM initiative will be used to guide the development of a traffic control system for drone flights across Australia. The trial has also helped to demonstrate the possibilities for more advanced use of drones across various sectors.