New drone platform to service industry, academia and government

15 February 2024
Associate Professor Steven Micklethwaite assembling a drone during field trials for the m4mining project. 

Australian researchers, industry professionals and public servants will have access to sophisticated equipment as part of a new drone platform established by The University of Queensland (UQ) and AuScope.

Led by UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI), the platform will provide organisations with access to a comprehensive range of drones, remote sensing and sample capture capabilities, as well as professionals trained to operate them and process their data.

The platform is being funded by AuScope and the Federal Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) as part of a wider project to build scientific monitoring infrastructure within Australia.

SMI’s Associate Professor Steven Micklethwaite will lead the platform, which he said will provide a variety of sectors with valuable, high-quality data.

“UQ had been developing a platform to share drones between researchers to assist with projects, but this funding takes it to the next level by creating a national, common-use platform,” Associate Professor Micklethwaite said.

“It will significantly improve the quality of information that organisations across a range of sectors have access to.

“The platform will host, maintain, adapt and upgrade sophisticated drones that would otherwise be unfeasible for many organisations to own and operate, as well as a fleet of more common drones.

“With a single fly-over, these sophisticated drones are able to provide a comprehensive array of chemical, physical, mineralogical, soil, hydrological and plant data.

“In a mining context it can be used to optimise decision-making in areas such as resource management, pit operations, mineral processing, tailings disposal, rehabilitation and more.

“If required, the platform will also make available technical experts who can interpret and process the data – which is an incredibly complicated and time-consuming process.

“This means the platform will not only offer drones to those trained to operate them, but an end-to-end service for those who would otherwise be unable to capture and process the data.”

If you are interested in learning more about the platform, contact Associate Professor Steven Micklethwaite.