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Boeing tests autonomous flight technology in Australia
Boeing/Insitu Integrator UAV. © Boeing

Boeing tests autonomous flight technology in Australia

The Australian-developed on-board system automatically perceives, processes and reacts in coordination with other unmanned vehicles.

Boeing has successfully completed the first suite of synchronised unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight tests using new on-board autonomous command and control technology developed by Boeing in Australia.

Conducted at a regional Queensland airfield, the test flights saw five UAV test beds equipped with Boeing’s new on-board system safely complete in-air programmed missions as a team without input from a human pilot, using so-called “brain on board” technology.

The milestone comes six months after Boeing set up its largest international autonomous systems development programme in Queensland, the Advance Queensland Autonomous Systems Platform Technology Project. The technology has been developed in partnership with local small and medium-sized enterprises.

This is not Boeing’s first Advance Queensland partnership. A broad area UAS situational awareness system developed by Boeing in partnership with Queensland businesses was exported to the U.S. in late 2017 and successfully completed its first flight test in Mississippi on January 2018.

Over the coming months, the Boeing Australia team plans to test more advanced systems on high-performance air vehicles.

Queensland has also been selected as the headquarters for the Australian defence ministry's first national Cooperative Research Centre for Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS DCRC), focusing on drones, robotics and artificial intelligence. The centre was formally launched in May.

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