World’s best drones do battle in Melbourne

The latest in drone technology from around the world has battled it out at RMIT University.

Leading micro aircraft researchers entered drones in races, obstacle course challenges and search and rescue mission scenarios as part of the 10th International Micro Air Vehicle Competition and Conference hosted by RMIT from November 17 to 23.

It’s the first time this premier drone technology event has been held in the southern hemisphere.

RMIT drone researcher Dr Abdulghani Mohamed said a highlight of the hugely successful event was the obstacle course challenge at RMIT’s Industrial Wind Tunnel, where drones had to negotiate gusts of wind to fly precisely through a set of increasingly small hoops, then perch like a bird on a landing spot.

“The wind-tunnel component was a real highlight and a world first for this event,” he said. 

“Interestingly, some of the highest tech drones struggled with the harsh realities of wind and turbulence in this scenario and it really highlighted the significance of our latest turbulence mitigation research at RMIT.”

Drone negotiating obstacle course in RMIT's wind tunnel.

A kestrel was also flown in the wind tunnel through the same obstacle course, giving audiences a close view of the bird’s highly agile flight.

Mohamed said this was a reminder that nature’s fliers were still much better at flying in gusts than even the best man-made craft.

Drone technology that mimics bird flight is another exciting area of research at RMIT.

The competition also featured events in cooperative carrying, buried metal detection and the quietest drone challenge, as well as presentations and tech demonstrations on next generation drones by RMIT and researchers from the United States Navy and other international leaders in the field.

Winning the bid to host IMAV in Melbourne was a major achievement for the university and a reflection of the quality of our research and facilities in this field.

RMIT university has an entire research team of staff and students dedicated to drones - RMIT Unmanned Aircraft systems research team (RUASRT) - working on cutting edge technologies of these craft and exploring novel applications. 

Story: Michael Quin

03 December 2018

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03 December 2018

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  • Aerospace & Aviation

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