ARCAA: supporting smarter, safer skies.
Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation
Supporting smarter, safer skies by developing on-board sensing systems for pilotless aircraft and related aircraft control technologies.
20 July 2011 | Updated 14 October 2011
The Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA) is a joint venture between CSIRO and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) involving over 40 researchers, engineers, students and support staff.
ARCAA grew from an agreement between QUT and CSIRO to cosupervise students.
Since launching in 2005, ARCAA has become an internationally renowned research centre and an active advocate for addressing regulatory issues facing the civil unmanned aircraft industry.
Pilotless autonomous aircraft, known technically as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), are a rapidly growing sector of the aerospace industry with civilian applications from crop monitoring to search and rescue.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority naturally wants to be certain that UAS are as reliable and safe as conventional aircraft before they are allowed to routinely operate over densely populated areas.
Activities – research and outreach
ARCAA's research spans all aspects of aviation automation and the integration of UAS with piloted aircraft. The aim is to support more efficient, safer use of airspace and to develop civilian applications for UAS.
There is a particular focus on:
- developing safe, reliable autonomous aircraft, both fixed wing and rotor
- on-board sensor systems for civilian applications, such as detecting bushfires
- automated control and navigation systems
ARCAA is also involved in activities including:
- removing the impediments to routine civilian operations of UAS
- promoting domestic and international research collaborations
- training researchers.
In 2007, ARCAA instituted the Outback Rescue Challenge, a competition to promote the UAS industry and foster the next generation of aviation engineers. Entrants come from all around the world to see if their autonomous aircraft can locate a lost ‘person’ and drop life-saving supplies to them. The sections of the competition for Australian schools are also tremendously popular and attract entries from around the country.
Read more about the Challenge in Flying robots on the up and up.
ARCAA is housed in a purpose-built building in the Da Vinci Precinct of Brisbane Airport in Queensland, Australia.
Equipment and facilities include:
- aircraft simulation and testing laboratory
- indoor flying area with vision-based motion capture system
- customised test aircraft
- mobile flight operations centre.
Outcomes and achievements
ARCAA’s flagship Smart Skies project (a three-year, $10 million project with Boeing Research and Technology and Insitu Pacific) achieved several world firsts.
A suite of technologies was developed to support the safe, efficient sharing of airspace by UAS and piloted aircraft. These included automated vision-based collision avoidance of midair and ground-based objects and an airspace tracking and management system.
One of Smart Skies’ world firsts was the integration of all these technologies in complex scenarios involving up to 50 real and simulated aircraft at once.
ARCAA has also won awards including:
- Best Research Collaboration, National Business Higher Education Round Table, 2010
- Engineering Excellence Award from Engineers Australia, Queensland Division, in the category of Control Systems, Networks, Information Processing and Telecommunications, 2010.
Read more about the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation [external link].