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Queensland Police to Trial Cutting-Edge Drones

The Government of Queensland will deliver state-of-the-art drone technology to support the police in Cairns as part of a landmark investment announced recently. The Queensland Premier stated that the government would invest in new remotely piloted high standard and advanced mission-capable aircraft (RPAS) through a 12-month trial in Cairns. She noted that the community will be able to feel safer knowing the police have these new, state-of-the-art resources, the Premier said. This technology has great potential in helping police to keep people safe, she added.

The new airborne observation platform will have enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and advancements like artificial intelligence technologies for tracking vehicles and sophisticated thermal imaging cameras for locating lost people. This additional aerial capability will supplement the fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters that already serve the north of the state.

During the last term of government, more than AU$ 40 million was invested to deliver two new government helicopters to North Queensland. There are now three government helicopters in North Queensland supporting emergency responses and policing operations. These aircraft all form part of the broader government air fleet operated by the Queensland Police Service (QPS) and include new POLAIR helicopters based in southeast Queensland – also announced by the government today.

Police advise that resources for dedicated police helicopters in Townsville and Cairns are better invested in other technologies given the smaller populated areas in regional Queensland and restricted airspace near the RAAF base in Townsville.

The Cairns-based Police Assistant Commissioner welcomed the announcement which he said was another example of the Queensland Police Service continually looking for better ways of supporting community safety. He stated that technology is changing daily life, and this is another example of how technology can be adapted to deliver better outcomes. This trial in Cairns will provide police with enhanced capabilities including advanced tools and image analytics, he added, noting that it means that officers on the ground will receive a live feed of the images being recorded on the new aerial platform.

The Police Commissioner said she was excited about the announcement as it added to the range of aviation support available to police and other emergency services in North Queensland. She noted, “I am very pleased that we will now have an even wider range of capability to provide to all our police, emergency services and other government partners in the north. Not only will we have this support for law enforcement it will assist our colleagues in organisations like the SES and marine rescue in our work keeping the community safe.”

The Police acting Chief Superintendent who has portfolio responsibility for the government air fleet, QGAir, said that with the QGAir fixed-wing aircraft currently providing services right across North Queensland, the three QGAir helicopters and now these large RPAS, the government will have a range of capability that will be available to meet a broad range of operational circumstances.

The use of RPAS in Australia is strictly regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). The QPS is the holder of a Remote Operators Certificate and all RPAS pilots have a Remote Pilot Licence and receive regular training and testing from the QPS Chief Remote Pilot.

The Queensland Palaszczuk Government will also deliver the same drone technology to support the police in Townsville. The Premier stated that the government would invest in new remotely piloted high standard and advanced mission-capable aircraft (RPAS) through a 12-month trial in Townsville.

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