Technology New potential for pilotless aerial vehicles

New potential for pilotless aerial vehicles

A 19-year old law student at The University of Western Australia has taken his hobby to the next level by inventing a pilotless aerial vehicle that is capable of five times longer than many of drones currently on the market.

Tom Maclaurin from City Beach started building remote control aeroplanes when he was at school. His hobby has since developed into a much bigger passion.

The device he has invented is capable of conducting aerial surveillance at a fraction of the cost of piloted aircraft.

“What I’ve built is a fixed-wing pilotless aerial vehicle that can be operated remotely,” Mr Maclaurin said.“The device, named ‘Swift’, is capable of flying for more than six hours before its battery runs out and can be used to monitor anything on the ground by picking up data from sensors, taking images or recording video.”

Mr Maclaurin said the invention addresses the considerable cost and time currently spent operating piloted aerial surveillance for activities such as beach and shark surveillance and crop monitoring in agriculture.

“What I have created is not only far cheaper, but can be operated remotely and is easy to use. It is lightweight and can glide safely to a stop should it lose power, instead of current drones which drop out of the sky when their battery runs out.”

The winged device is two metres in length and weighs six kilograms.

Mr Maclaurin anticipates many useful applications for the device including beach patrols and monitoring crop levels, dam levels and cattle locations. It could also be used by councils and government authorities to monitor particular areas of land.

Mr Maclaurin was recently awarded Student Start-up on the Year at UWA’s Innovation Quarter (IQ) Awards for his invention. The IQ Awards recognise innovation, entrepreneurship and research expertise for start-ups that make a difference in the community.

Mr Maclaurin said he was currently looking for investors to help him further develop his technology as well industry collaborators from local government, the agriculture industry and surf lifesaving.

See the University of Western Australia’s original story here. Story credit: University of Western Australia newsroom.

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