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Waterproof drone recognised for its abilities

Credit: RMIT University

A waterproof drone designed by RMIT University engineers with the Defence Science & Technology group has been nominated for a top innovation prize.

According to a recent press release, Black Kite represented a successful world-first drone for maritime applications and it is nominated for a National Defence Innovation Award.

The drone is on display as it is a nominee for the A$ 15,000 prize.

Black Kite’s Abilities

The University’s project lead, Dr Abdulghani Mohamed, explained how Black Kite can contribute to maritime applications.

The drone is entirely water-proof and has the capability to land and take-off on water, even with some level of swell and in all-weather conditions.

Moreover, the system will be able to enhance the abilities to investigate or meet incoming vessels or divers.

Sending a drone to perform this task is quicker and safer than sending people into potential danger as it completes the mission with high levels of autonomy.

In addition, Black Kite had also been designed to operate with high levels of autonomy in taking off, intercepting and tracking targets, returning to base and landing.

It has an operating range of up to 3km and can carry a 3kg payload, including a wide range of sensors and on-board speaker and mic system for two-way communication with vessels.

Black Kite was described as a water resistant and water recoverable maritime Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

It is currently used as a modular research platform at DSTG to explore further uses of RPA in maritime applications.

It is capable of detecting and tracking vessels and underwater swimmers approaching a ship, and can also communicate with vessels via a speaker to provide warnings or other communications.

Furthermore, it can lay dormant on the water’s surface for many hours.

Black Kite’s History

The University’s Dr Matthew Marino, the co-creator of Black Kite, shared that it was satisfying to develop a technology that began as a student project.

It was then developed through several prototype stages and testing using the University’s industrial wind tunnel facilities.

Seeing the motivation and dedication of engineering students was fantastic. They formed a strong team to help develop a successful technology, which was tried and tested in a real environment.

That kind of hands-on learning and skills will be highly valued in the growing drone sector.

The drone has been presented before top US Navy officials. After nearly 40 test missions and further development, is now fully ready for deployment.

Black Kite was developed together with the Defence Science & Technology (DST) group. DST is the Australian government’s lead agency responsible for applying science and technology to safeguard Australia and its national interests.

OpenGov Asia earlier reported on drones as a way to boost the farming sector in the Philippines.

The report explained that drones can improve on how seeds are planted, how fertilisers and pesticides are applied, and how crops are monitored.


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