Queensland Police is preparing to launch two new high-tech Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) in the state’s north as part of ongoing trials in assisting frontline officers.
The advanced Teledyne FLIR SkyRanger R70, used by militaries across the globe, has joined the QPS fleet and is undergoing testing ahead of its deployment to Townsville and Cairns.
The new RPA will join the other selected aircraft for the trial, the DJI M30 RPAS, which has been assisting officers on the ground in the region in disrupting and preventing criminal behaviour.
The training of QPS RPAS pilots in Townsville and Cairns occurred in December 2022 with additional aircraft familiarisation training for the R70 commencing soon.
Once this advanced training has concluded, the R70 will be available for use in Cairns and Townsville alongside the M30.
On December 19, the M30 was used to provide support to police in Townsville following the successful deployment of a tyre deflation device on a stolen vehicle where six occupants fled.
The M30 assisted in the arrest of three offenders involved in alleged property crime and stolen vehicle offences, with the pilot observing and able to relay information to QPS Tactical Crime Squad officers.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Wheeler said the trials of the new RPAS were proving successful in Townsville and Cairns.
“We are very pleased to see our aerial capabilities in the north boosted with these high-tech systems,” Acting Deputy Commissioner said.
“Rapid technological progress is being made in many spheres of our daily lives, and this is another example of how technology can be adapted to deliver better outcomes.
“The QPS has been successfully using RPAS operationally for many years in specialist units, however, this new high standard and advanced mission capable aircraft takes it to another level.
“It will provide police with enhanced capabilities including higher quality tools and image analytics.”
Police Minister Mark Ryan said the State Government was committed to ensuring the QPS was equipped with cutting-edge technology to help fight crime.
“These new “eyes in the sky” have great potential in helping police to keep people safe and we are already seeing that,” Minister Ryan said.
“I congratulate the QPS for looking to adapt new technologies to provide enhanced levels of support to community safety.
“These aerial assets have enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and advancements like artificial intelligence technologies for tracking vehicles.”
The use of RPAS in Australia is strictly regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
The QPS is the holder of a Remote Operators Certificate, and all RPAS pilots have a Remote Pilot Licence and receive regular training and testing from the QPS Chief Remote Pilot.