Thales Australia developing cutting-edge drone solutions with revolution aerospace to connect regional communities

Thales Australia and Revolution Aerospace, a Brisbane based SME, are developing a Unified Traffic Management solution as part of Round 1 of the Emerging Aviation Technologies Partnership (EATP) Program grant. The grant was awarded to Revolution Aerospace, along with consortium partners Thales Australia and Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS), to develop key drone technologies to address access constraints to products and services, particularly in remote and regional Australia.

The multi-faceted project includes Revolution Aerospace developing a drone-based regional cargo delivery solution with cargo capacity significantly larger than current drone operations in metropolitan areas. This capability can improve the connectivity for regional communities, including more regular access to lifestyle products in quicker timeframes, and improved access for lifesaving medical products.

To integrate the cargo solution into the national airspace system, Revolution Aerospace and Thales are developing an Uncrewed Traffic Management (UTM) system. Thales Australia’s SkyLab Innovation team have been heavily involved in the trials to develop a cutting-edge digital twin solution to optimise Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operations and ensure safe integration of the project into existing airspace. Building on Thales’s extensive Air Traffic Management expertise, this project leverages global Unified Traffic Management (UTM) innovations designed to separate and deconflict a mix of drones, air taxis, and crewed platforms in an integrated traffic environment.

The consortium lead, Revolution Aerospace, is developing a Detect and Avoid payload, in addition to drafting a Test Method guideline in partnership with Trusted Autonomous Systems. These technologies combined will demonstrate how the distribution of people and product can be achieved at scale.

This Australian Government initiative, supported by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local government, is designed to maximise opportunities for emerging Australian aviation technology researchers, developers, and manufacturers to help solve regulatory barriers through advanced, safe, and globally informed enabling technology, which is developed in Australia.

“The Emerging Aviation Technology Partnerships Program will ensure our aviation sector remains at the forefront of innovation as it continues to develop and grow, particularly with the renewed focus on achieving net zero carbon emissions.

“This program will directly support regional communities in improving health services and connections, as well as enhancing the capabilities of Australian businesses in delivering new aviation operations with increased technical complexity,” said Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King, of the EATP Program.

Through the EATP program, Thales Australia aims to grow our air mobility capabilities and invest in home-grown talent, contributing to a self-reliant airspace ecosystem and driving innovation for our sector and beyond.

“The EATP program will lay the foundation for a future where UAV delivery systems redefine logistics and connectivity, revolutionising industries such as emergency response, medical supplies, and connecting regional and remote cities to the business district. Together, Thales Australia, and consortium partners share a commitment to pushing the boundaries of emerging aviation technologies for a more connected and efficient future." Elita Huynh, SkyLab Innovation Manager, Thales Australia

“The combined effort of Revolution Aerospace and Thales is truly cutting edge, particularly the development of algorithms that can take into consideration a broad range of community and commercial objectives simultaneously. This includes optimising safe, efficient, and prioritised routing and scheduling of operations as drones seek to provide transport and logistics for e-commerce.” Guy Morris, Project Director, Revolution Aerospace

An important milestone in this 18-month project was reached recently, with the successful completion of the first set of initial flight trials at the Queensland flight test range in Cloncurry, in north-west outback Queensland.

Thales Australia, Revolution Aerospace and Trusted Autonomous Systems will conduct a major trial in the Whitsunday’s region in the beginning of 2024, bringing together all technology elements to showcase how first, middle, and last mile operations can be successfully achieved in complex uncontrolled airspace.

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