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Airobotics Receives First-Ever Approval for Automated BVLOS Flights from Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority

BY Zacc Dukowitz
1 February 2019

Airobotics recently announced that they are the recipient of the first approval ever granted by the Australian CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) to fly automated UAV missions BVLOS  (beyond visual line of sight) with no aircrew required on-site.


Photo credit: Airobotics

According to Airobotics, this new approval gives their remote UAV pilots permission to oversee missions from their Remote Operations Center. Using systems located at customer sites, remote pilots can use this approval to supervise missions at a distance of up to 1,000 kilometers (632 miles) away.

Removing aircrews from potentially dangerous environments, like mines, enables customers to extract maximum value and reduce risk from their business operations by leveraging technology and automation.

– Niv Russo, Vice President of Aviation and Compliance at Airobotics

Comparing Airobotics’ CASA BVLOS Approval to Airobotics’ Recent FAA BVLOS Waiver

Last month Airobotics received a BVLOS waiver from the FAA that gave them permission to fly automated BVLOS missions over people without the use of a visual observer.

So what’s different between that FAA waiver and the Australian CASA approval they just announced?

One main thing stands out—while the FAA waiver gave Airobotics permission to fly BVLOS over people, the CASA approval does not explicitly give Airobotics permission to fly over people.

Another difference to note is that Airobotics seems to have permission to fly BVLOS from their ROC (Remote Operations Center) in Australia at a distance of 1,000 kilometers (632 miles) or less from a given site.


Airobotics drones can dock at a charging station on-site and be deployed as needed

In comparison to the CASA approval, while the waiver Airobotics received from the FAA allows them to fly automated missions BVLOS in the U.S. without a visual observer on-site, they did not explicitly mention any restrictions about where these missions can be supervised from or how far away the supervision location can be from the actual site of the mission.

Airobotics has not explained whether the 1,000 kilometer distance cap for remote supervision of flights was imposed by the Australian CASA or whether it simply fits into their current operational needs. However, we can surmise from the information they have shared that they probably plan to use the approval to fly automated missions in remote, unpopulated areas in order to conduct surveys of mines and other similar industrial areas.

Airobotics’ Recent Accolades and Global BVLOS Success

When we reported on Airobotics’ U.S. BVLOS waiver last month, we also covered the fact that they are the only company with permission to fly BVLOs in Australia, the U.S., and Israel.

This new approval from the Australian CASA to fly automated missions without an aircrew on site is one more feather in Airobotics’ cap.

[All three of these countries are global leaders in the creation of comprehensive drone regulations—learn more about drone laws in the U.S, Australia, and Israel.]

In addition to their success on the waiver and special permissions front, Airobotics has received a spate of awards and funding over the last year:

  • In February of 2018 Airobotics was named one of the world’s “Most Innovative Companies” by Fast Company.
  • In March of 2018, Airobotics received Frost & Sullivan’s 2018 Global New Product Innovation Award for their autonomous drone platform.
  • In October of 2018, Airobotics announced that they had raised $30 million in their Series D funding round, which brought their total amount raised up to $101 million.
  • In June of 2018, the Wall Street Journal named Airobotics one of the Top 25 Tech Companies to Watch in 2018.

Given the amount of trust the U.S. FAA, the Australian CASA, and the Israeli CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) have all placed in Airobotics and the safety of their technology, we expect to be hearing a lot more about their automated inspection solutions in the near future.

In fact, Airobotics has already announced a new addition to their offerings since the CASA approval was made public—to supplement their current automated offerings, they’ll be adding LiDAR as one more inspection tool their clients can use.

What do you think about Airobotics’ new BVLOS approval from the Australian CASA? Do you think automated UAV inspections are going to proliferate quickly in Australia, the U.S., and elsewhere, or do you think we still have a ways to go before they become an everyday occurrence? Share your thoughts and opinions on this thread in the UAV Coach community forum.

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