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Geelong trial demonstrates safe integrated drone operations

Thales Australia,Telstra and the City of Greater Geelong have successfully completed the GLAAM trial, an Australian first. Photo: City of Greater Geelong

In the skies over Geelong, a world-leading partnership has demonstrated the safe integration of manned and unmanned aircraft in low altitude airspace. With support from the City of Greater Geelong, Thales and Telstra have jointly prototyped LAAM (Low Altitude Airspace Management), a technology that dynamically manages airspace, integrating manned and unmanned traffic whilst automating drone flight approvals.

Using the operational expertise of AUAV, a leading drone operator, Thales and Telstra built a robust, safe and secure local ecosystem, preparing the way for the integration of manned and unmanned traffic in Australian skies.

Over a 6-month period, the Geelong Low Altitude Airspace Management (GLAAM) Initiative demonstrated that drone operations can be conducted safely in a semi-urban environment and support the development of Smart City concepts in Australia. A UAV traffic management system will achieve a safer community by improving regulation, accountability and transparency of flights while mitigating privacy violations by ensuring pre-approvals for all flights including flight path, pilot and purpose.

Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said that this project has shown that the creation of a seamless sky is possible, where manned and unmanned traffic is safely integrated in the smart cities of the future.

“This trial has proved that the technology is there to support drone users perform their missions in an orderly, safe and timely manner, helping to safely unlock their full benefit.”

Telstra’s Group Owner, Incubation and Excellence, Gianpaolo Carraro said, “We’re looking to solve aerial connectivity at lower altitudes than regular aviation, such as command and control and airspace awareness. Our ambition is to be an integral player for the industry, supporting safer & secure low altitude airspace equality. Today’s announcement with Greater City of Geelong and Thales reinforces our fast, safe, and secure 4G, 5G, and IoT networks as well as our advanced LANES technology to make this ambition a reality.”

The Thales UAS Airspace Management solution – at the heart of the LAAM – is in operation in the USA to provide drone management services for the New York State Corridor, is accredited by the FAA under the LAANC initiative, and will soon be deployed in the State of North Dakota supporting safe airspace integration of unmanned aircraft. In Europe, the Thales UAS Airspace Management solution is managing the airspace for drones over two major cities, Rennes and Lille.

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