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The quiet heroes behind Queensland’s robot drone project

28 April 2021

Queensland’s partnership with aerospace leader Boeing Australia on its advanced autonomy program has paid big dividends for the state creating jobs and opportunities for Queensland small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).

In 2018, the Queensland Government partnered with Boeing on their Autonomous Systems Platform Technologies Project, helping progress autonomous mission systems technology and Queensland’s growing aerospace industry.

Supported by Advance Queensland, the project set out to develop on-board command and control technology. It applied artificial intelligence algorithms to ‘teach’ the uncrewed aircraft’s ‘brain’ to understand what is required of it including, communicating and collaborating with other autonomous aircraft.

As part of the innovative project, 20 Queensland SMEs were selected to help develop sophisticated technology – which proved a huge success with test flights at the new Queensland Flight Test Range in Cloncurry.

Microelectronic Technologies (MeT), ImmersaView, RFDesign, and QuintessenceLabs were just a few of the local companies engaged to help develop solutions to a range of complex technology challenges.

Brisbane-based MeT was approached to provide custom electronics design support to meet a specific set of communications and connectivity requirements.

“Our involvement in the project enabled MeT to upskill and increase our in-house production and test equipment,” MeT General Manager Mr Brendon Lang said.

“It has created an international platform for our company to showcase our skills and expertise in local design and manufacturing which could enable us to support similar defence and aerospace projects in the future.”

Mr Seppo Saario from RFDesign, one of the key suppliers of the project, said the engagement with Boeing over the project enabled the company to strengthen its capabilities and offerings in the autonomous vehicle and system space across multiple industries.

With the project now complete, the Queensland Government and Boeing will continue their partnership in defence advanced manufacturing.

Pending orders, Queensland will become the final assembly production home for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, the first military combat aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in half a century.

Visit the Advance Queensland website to learn more about the Queensland SMEs that worked on the project.