Dr. Luis Mejias Alvarez, an aerospace engineering lecturer at the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA), says UAVs could not presently fly in commercial airspace over populated areas because they lacked the ability to sense and avoid other air traffic and had no ability to make a safe landing in an emergency.
UAV flight plans are set pre-flight, and if something goes wrong and they need to land, they have no way to determine where the safest landing spot is.
The researchers expect that the system they are developing will enable them to both sense and avoid other traffic and determine appropriate landing spots should the need arise. To do so, the QUT GPS-based system will incorporate a camera to pinpoint to a pilot any large, vacant spaces that would provide landing options.
The project, called "Developing novel concepts for improved safety in aircraft emergency situations," has been awarded a grant of $375,000 from the Australian Research Council and is expected to take three years to complete.
-- By Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design