New cyber craft takes off from Challenger TAFE

Sunday, 26 July 2009

It had all the traits of a hi-tech spy thriller, but fact proved more fascinating than fiction today when a locally-made surveillance aircraft took to the skies from Challenger TAFE's Australian Centre for Energy and Process Training.

The hi-tech capabilities of the Cyber Eye V1 unmanned aircraft, developed to help combat drug trafficking, people smuggling, bush fires and environmental pollution, were put to the test during the craft’s first demonstration flight.

With a seven metre wing span, speeds of up to 160kmh and a 10-hour flight time, the Cyber Eye V1 showcased its potential for surveillance operations and border protection.

The test flight took the aircraft over Rottnest and the Fremantle coastline, while live data and video were transmitted back to the demonstration area at ACEPT.

Challenger TAFE managing director, Liz Harris, said the College was excited to support the venture, which had been spearheaded by a group of West Australian technology companies.

“Challenger TAFE prides itself on supporting small to medium enterprises engaged in cutting-edge research,” Liz said.

“The College has a strong reputation for helping build the workforce capabilities of a range of defence industry companies and is excited to help promote the type of innovative solutions the Cyber Eye offers.”

Operational Solutions Management’s Eric Pearson, who brought the companies together to develop the aircraft, said governments and private industry required cost effective surveillance technologies that could cover greater areas and utilise available communications.

He said international demand of the Cyber Eye V1 had already taken off: Malaysia and Thailand had bought three of the aircraft each and at least 20 orders had been received from other countries.

“The economic downturn has presented an opportunity for smaller companies to position themselves for when the economy picks up,” Mr Pearson said.

“The current economic climate is favourable to the collaborative approach that we’ve taken in developing the Cyber Eye. Many of the major companies have resisted this type of development during the downturn.”

Mr Pearson said the companies that developed the aircraft were Operational Solutions Management, Cyber Technology, Tactronics Australasia, ETCORP, Mobilarm and BronzeSky.

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