The QLD state government has recently announced a 12-month trial of a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) in Cairns and Townsville to target sieges, searches for missing people, intelligence operations and disaster management. 

Reported on ABC News: Read the entire article here.

When sensors detect unauthorised drone activities within the secured perimeter, our product, ORION automatically identifies the invader, intelligently selects, and applies appropriate strategies to inhibit the threat and can issue an immediate alert to systems or staff. 

When required, ORION can utilise its patent protocol manipulation to take control of a target drone or controller, either automatically or on the operator’s command. 

Contact Department 13 to find out how we can assist your industry or specific requirements. All communications are strictly confidential.  

Department 13 is proud to unveil its first Remote Operations Centre (ROC) to support the increased demand for Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations across a range of industry sectors throughout Australia. 

The ROC is capable of operating a range of drone platforms, with success recently illustrated by its state-of-the-art Nightingale Security Blackbird, one of the highest calibre and smartest drones in the world. 

The ROC was designed and built to meet the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA) rigorous specifications for safe use and control of a remote cockpit. These specifications ensure the ROC’s flight, communications, and information systems are sufficiently robust to endure redundancy impacts in worst-case scenarios. 

BVLOS refers to the operation of drones at distances outside of a pilot’s normal visible line of sight. As visual sight is the primary means by which pilots determine safe path execution, developing systems to safely fly drones BVLOS requires advanced communication and control systems to identify airborne threats and vulnerable ground areas. 

Department 13’s UAS pilots hold a range of specialist aviation certifications, are experts in the field of BVLOS operations, and are trained and approved to operate all D13 ROC platforms. 

Department 13 already has a series of critical national infrastructure organisations projects rolling out in 2022 that will benefit from the new ROC services. Paired with its highly specialised team, Department 13 is delivering a unique and effective offering around Australia and further afield, for its growing customer base. 

Check out the recent article created by ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science on Department 13.

As he powered his way toward a Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Science (to go with a Maths Modelling major of his own design), Lewis Aston had scheduled the Capstone engineering project for his second-to-last semester. He didn’t have high expectations. 

“We know what the deal is, we know that the ANU is building relationships with private industry. The Capstone course is a requirement and that’s fine. But then you realise it’s required for a reason,” Lewis said.  

“It gives you a chance to reflect on your education. You’re at the end of your degree, and this is what you’ve learnt. How well can you apply it to a job that has been assigned to you? It all sort of develops from there. The relationships, the work, the knowledge that you gain. It was a really, really good experience.” 

Before the semester was over, Capstone had become the focal point of Lewis’ studies and galvanised a budding career. An inspiring mentoring relationship had led to an eight-week Summer internship, and then the offer of a full-time position at one Australia’s leading engineering firms after graduation.

Lucky 13

Department 13 is a military-grade drone technology company founded in 2010 by former military operators, scientists, and engineers applying proprietary advanced technology to remote machine operations for commercial, government, and defence clients. It’s head office is now based in Australia’s capital city of Canberra, and a major focus for Department 13 has been securing the airspace above government and private assets. 

In May of 2021, Department 13 hired Joni Sytsma as Chief Technology Officer, and part of her role was to develop a long-term relationship with ANU. Sytsma initiated Department 13’s first project with the ANU Capstone program by presenting at “project selection night” at the start of the next semester.

“I wanted to solve the problem of detecting drones with audio,” Sytsma said. “Not a motorcycle, not a whipper snipper, not anything else that goes buzz buzz. A drone detection system that has low false negative and low false positive.”

Drones can carry high-risk payloads, such as video cameras, hacking devices, contraband, and explosives. Department 13’s patented system currently detects drone fingerprints by intercepting the radio transmissions necessary for piloting. Audio detection would be “another arrow in the quiver”, Sytsma said. 

The project immediately appealed to Lewis. He thought the goal was exciting and the scientific approach would align closely with his interests. The project began with a series of virtual meetings between Sytsma and the six-member Capstone team. 

They soon organised themselves into two groups: three on the development side and three on the communications side, providing documentation for both the client and the university such as the Concept of Operations and subsequent audits. 

The development team worked on Neural Networks, MelFrequency Cepstral Coefficients, and Digital Signal Processing (DSP). Lewis was tasked with using DSP to analyse audio files and determine “not just if a file contains a drone sound, but at what times, as well as determining movement of a drone in relation to the microphone by analysing how the harmonics’ frequency and power shifts”. 

The process required frequent communication with Sytsma. “I really liked the work we were doing and I liked Joni. I enjoyed talking to her,” Lewis said.  

At that point, Lewis’ master plan to graduate in a year’s time with three majors was in jeopardy. The pandemic had made the Engineering major’s work requirement more difficult to fulfil. He needed eight more weeks of experience in the field and had applied to several firms over the years, “but I had been rejected time and time again,” said Lewis. 

For one such position, he was among six finalists out of 2,500 applicants, but just as the Capstone project was ramping up, he learned that he had not been chosen.­

He feared that he would not be able to graduate as planned. His plan B would be to move back to Perth and look for a summer internship the following year.

Lewis requested a virtual meeting with Sytsma and shared his predicament. Sytsma went to Department 13’s CEO Lee Croft and due to Lewis' excellent performance to date coupled with the growing connection to Capstone, they agreed to offer Lewis a paid position for the approaching summer.

For this, Sytsma decided to challenge him further. “I scoped out a project that was nothing like what I’d asked of him before and nothing like he’d ever done,” Sytsma said.

Lewis and Sytsma met in person for the first time on Lewis’ official first day of work. He would be designing a circuit board for an advanced radio detection system, powering and controlling external devices such as a GPS sensor, and a temperature sensor. “I had to figure out the power requirements, how thick to make the copper traces on the board. It was nice to be on top of things and see how they fit together,” said Lewis.

For eight weeks, Lewis integrated seamlessly into Sytsma’s development team. His task was more complicated than the Capstone project because “the requirements were not static, they were always changing” as his colleagues simultaneously developed elements that his circuit board would connect.

Sytsma was pleased with Lewis’ work, as was the Department 13 development team from top to bottom. 

“This is a functional, absolutely required component of the next version of the product and if Lewis hadn't done it, I don’t know who else would have done it. That’s why we’re now offering him a full-time job,” Sytsma said.

We, the true geeks

Sytsma said that she and Department 13 will be participating in Capstone again in 2022, and a likely project will be to continue the work that Lewis and his team began in 2021.

“They’ve written the algorithm that does the detection. Now it needs to be running in a continuous cycle on an embedded hardware solution. A raspberry pi [a tiny computer] with a microphone and some other stuff hooked up to it,” she said. 

Sytsma sees projects like Capstone as a way to incubate and assess talent and to “give back to the science community in this country”. She also sees it as a smart, practical component of research and development.

“I’ve been doing this sort of thing for quite a few years now,” Sytsma said. “I’ve got a job to do, which is to build the tech that ultimately we’re going to sell. But that’s not the main motivation. Every time I interact with folks that are outside of the organisation that I’m in, it’s an opportunity to bring someone in.”

Sytsma said Lewis is a “prime example” of success for a program like Capstone.

“He was just so enthralled by the digital signal processing. He kept on calling me. The project was over. They’d submitted the final report and he’s asking me all these questions because he really wanted to learn,” she said. 

“The true geeks aren’t just in it for a grade or a dollar. The true geeks are in it because they really do want to know. When I see that kind of passion, I want to do what I can to throw some fire on it,” Sytsma said.

How does Lewis Aston feel about being a “true geek” on the Joni Sytsma scale?

“I am okay with the sentiment because it's in her own words and her own experiences, although the term nerd is more technically accurate. However I would still not use this to describe myself, I would say I’m passionate,” Lewis said.

Nerd, geek, or passionate — he went from fearing he wouldn’t graduate to having a job offer, friends, and colleagues waiting for him at a leading drone technology company.

Lewis says he has a developed a deep appreciation for the ANU Capstone project, but not just because of his own experience. He saw it benefit his classmates as well. “It provides a transition period from the academic setting to the workforce,” he said. “They’re essentially embedding you with these fantastic companies, and these fantastic people that have projects that really challenge you and allow you to learn.”

Read the article direct from their website here,

An autonomous drone in Sweden helped to save the life of a 71-year-old man who was suffering cardiac arrest.

The man was amazed at how quickly the drone arrived at his side. It took 3 minutes for the alarm to be raised until the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) arrived.

Reported on BBC News: Read the entire article here.

See how Department 13 provides autonomous drone solutions for a variety of applications:

The Blackbird drone can conduct autonomous scheduled patrols of areas of interest within your dedicated perimeter zone and send out alerts when intruders are detected. If an alarm is triggered, Blackbird can also autonomously respond by deploying within 30 seconds to the threat location and stream live video to the security team. Should a major event occur onsite, the Blackbird can be the first responder via a manual deployment and safely provide live footage and monitor events as they unfold on the ground.

Contact Department 13 to find out how we can assist your industry or specific requirements. All communications are strictly confidential.  

Soccer fans were left irritated after an English Premier League game was put on pause due to the illegal flight of a drone over the stadium.

The drone was spotted 30 minutes into the match after circling the playing field, then proceeded to hover above the grandstands.

Similar to the recent drone violation at an NFL playoff game, these incidents could have been detected and possibly avoided with the use of our Atlas13 + Scout13 technology. Detect, identify, and locate.

Reported on Drone DJ: Read the entire article here.

How Department 13's advanced technology could assist to recognise and counteract potential threat:

When Department 13’s Atlas and Scout system is combined with a drone management system, they can correlate a live drone with its accredited operator and registered flight mission, to deliver pre, post and in-flight operational awareness and audit functions, making site safety and audit efficient and simple.

Contact Department 13 to find out how we can assist your industry or specific requirements. All communications are strictly confidential.  

A key oil facility in Abu Dhabi was targeted in a suspected drone attack, killing 3 people, and resulting in a separate fire at Abu Dhabi’s international airport.

The attack, believed to be executed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, has been condemned by government officials globally.

Reported on Aljazeera: Read the entire article here.

How Department 13's advanced technology could assist to recognise and counteract potential threat:

Contact Department 13 to find out how we can assist your industry or specific requirements. All communications are strictly confidential.  

Department 13 has commenced work with another national critical infrastructure organisation in Australia, to enable the safe and controlled use of autonomous drone capabilities at multiple sites and drive new and innovative business outcomes from capabilities and intelligence delivered by the drones and its operating system.

Integrating Department 13’s specialised drone technology into the site’s current operations is elevating safety and security postures and enabling a range of autonomous duties to be conducted by the new drone fleet. The capabilities of the system that will further extend into, support, and innovate a range of areas in the organisation like never before.

Department 13 CEO Mr Lee Croft said “This is an incredibly exciting application of our technology. Not only are we advancing the clients unique security and safety requirements to strategically protect the sites critical infrastructure, people, and IP – we’re developing new ways for the drones to also assist the organisation on a broader level with integral autonomous duties and data collection that can scheduled to occur as they please.

“It’s making the drones multi-task and be incredibly effective and efficient in their roles and responsibilities at the site. In turn it’s allowing the boots on the ground to refocus their time and efforts to more important matters” said Mr Croft.

Supporting the organisation through the entire technology integration, Department 13 will help plan and manage all mandatory compliance work required by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations at the site.

To ensure complete due diligence, Department 13 will conduct comprehensive assessments of ground and air risks pertinent to the site’s operation areas, and de-conflict surrounding airspaces by engaging with nearby stakeholders and take into consideration any of their current air management arrangements. Custom operating procedures will be produced, and workshops held with the end users and CASA to ensure safety and compliance requirements are clearly aligned and achieved.

State-of-the-art Nightingale Security Blackbird drones deployed at the site are Department 13’s self-sufficient aerial capability that can be deployed anywhere in Australia and be operated by Department 13’s in-house 24/7 Remote Operations Centre (ROC).

With highly skilled and qualified pilots based in Canberra, Department 13 is delivering innovative drone technology solutions to a range of industries including government, defence, security, commercial enterprises and critical infrastructure organisations with full turn-key airspace management solutions. Dedicated to ensuring the highest level of safety, security, CASA compliance, support, maintenance, and efficiency for innovative and diverse drone operating systems, Department 13 has a series of critical national infrastructure organisations projects rolling out in 2022.

To find out how Department 13 technology can assist your industry or specific requirements, contact us for an initial confidential discussion. 

Not all drones are best suited for climate disasters, but sometimes this is the only technology that can assist with controlling wildfires and locating survivors after a bad storm. Read the full article below to find out how drones can be enlisted to fight climate disasters.

Reported on Washington Post: Read the entire article here.

How Department 13's advanced technology could assist in the commercial industry 

Contact Department 13 to find out how we can assist your industry or specific requirements. All communications are strictly confidential.  

Drones continue to be a significant component in the pursuit of greater human safety. They can fly into areas unfit for human intervention and provide surveillance for areas beyond our sight. A research team at the University of Zurich could make this surveillance easier with a new approach to training drones flying through complex environments. 

Reported on RT Insights: Read the entire article here.

How Department 13's advanced technology could assist in the commercial industry 

Contact Department 13 to find out how we can assist your industry or specific requirements. All communications are strictly confidential.  

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