New UAV Experimental Flight Facility opened at UNSW Canberra on 26th April


In his first event as the formal Patron of the UNSW Canberra UAV Team, Rear Admiral Colin Lawrence AM RAN formally opened the new UAV Experimental Flight Facility at UNSW Canberra on the 26th of April.

This exciting event showcased the UAV new indoor flight test centre, a fully instrumented, netted off area where several drones can be flown at once.

Associate Professor Dr Matt Garratt, the head researcher of the UNSW Canberra UAV Team, explains the flight facility has been three years in the making, as the UAV team collected a series of cameras that work together like a highly accurate indoor GPS system. “Known as a motion capture system (MCS), we can use it to control the drones and we can accurately see the position of dozens of drones at once,” he says.


The facility will assist the research work of the UAV team in several areas, including aerial robotics, in key areas such as the development of technologies for safe navigation of autonomous drones in cluttered environments using machine vision, robot swarming and developing trust in human-machine relationships (trusted autonomy). The MSC will be used for field testing of autonomous systems; and benchmarking  control algorithms for autonomous vehicles such as quadrotor drones.

This ground-breaking research would be impossible without the contribution of sponsors, so the event will also provide the perfect opportunity to acknowledge and thank the key players, particularly the UNSW Canberra UAV Team’s major sponsors, Northrop Grumman and Leidos.

These generous patrons have donated money to provide the UAV team with drones and equipment, as well as enabling them to take part in theUAV Medical Express Outback Challenge, in which teams from all over the world compete in Queensland every two years. The 2018 challenge will see teams attempting to retrieve a blood sample from a patient in a remote Queensland location and return it to base, developing systems that enable them to carry out the mission in a fully autonomous manner using Type 2 Autonomy.

As the official opener of the Experimental Flight Facility, new patron Rear Admiral Colin Lawrence AM RAN, Head of Navy Engineering, joined Dr Matt Garratt and the UNSW Canberra UAV team, a variety of undergraduates and PhD students involved with UAV research, to find out more about the team’s exciting progress.

Those who attended the opening experienced a thrilling drone demonstration in the indoor flight area, including drones flying in formation under the net, a fascinating display of all the UAV team’s aircraft, along with videos of the flights and research they’ve been undertaking