The protection of sites, assets and people is a priority for commercial enterprises, governments, defence and critical infrastructure sites around the globe.

Department 13’s newest drone detection system Scout13 uses a combination of radio frequency and protocol comprehension to observe up to 5km of airspace, providing the highest level of intelligence on unauthorised drones invading monitored areas.

This innovative technology enhances surveillance and security teams, collecting radio frequency data, transmitting in real-time to the cloud-based central knowledge command centre for interpretation, tracking and intelligent response.

Data is verified through Department 13’s robust drone fingerprint library to detect, identify, attribute and locate drones within and around nearby airspaces.

Department 13 CEO Lee Croft says, “The product instantly enables informed strategic decisions regarding potential threats from airspace incursions that could compromise the safety and security of the monitored site.”

“Through instant and early threat detection, Scout13 can protect sites, assets and people anywhere in the world.”

Department 13 will be hosting a live Scout13 presentation showcasing their complete ecosystem of turn-key Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) and Counter Uncrewed Aerial Systems (C-UAS) systems on Wednesday 19 October 2022, Session 1 at - 8:30am AEST and Session 2 at - 5:30pm AEST.

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‘By 2050, there could be close to 7.5 million personal and commercial drones sailing through the European skies’ said SESAR, a European air traffic control infrastructure modernisation program.

The “bubble project” has kicked off to ensure there is a proper plan in place for airspace management (unmanned traffic management), so there are no collision incidents with the drones. The program involves a generated security bubble around each drone based on algorithms calculating the risk of collision.

Our featured products and their capabilities can assist in a variety of applications:

To make site safety auditing efficient and simple, when combined with a drone management system our products Atlas and Scout, can correlate a live drone and controller with its accredited operator and registered flight mission, to deliver pre, post and in-flight operational awareness and audit functions.

Reported on Euro News: Read the entire article here.

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

In the urban wetlands of Perth’s inner northeast suburbs, a large swarm of mosquitos have been a nuisance to the community for over 17 years. The local council has recently approved drones equipped with pesticides to fly over these targeted areas to combat the mosquitos taking over the wetlands, making it more pleasant to go for walks, sightseeing and various other outdoor activities within the area.

The council had previously trialed spraying the pesticide by foot but were unsuccessful due to sinking in the mud, making it unsafe for them to undertake this activity themself.

This is one of many examples where drones serve a great purpose to support communities in various ways.

Reported on ABC News: Read the entire article here.

Our featured products and their capabilities can assist in a variety of applications:

Department 13’s Blackbird drones are one of the smartest drones available in the world. Smart, innovative and capable, each entity has unique mission requirements that the Blackbird can adapt to and deliver. Collaboration and integration create endless opportunities for AI in conjunction with the human management teams to deliver next level opportunities.

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

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.

Our featured products and their capabilities can assist in a variety of applications:

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. 

Remote Operations Centre Gallery

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,

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. 


Canberra Innovation Network interviews Department 13's Chief Technology Officer, Joni Sytsma as part of their Women In Innovation initiative.  

Raised on science fiction, Joni got the tech bug from a young age. Innovation is what drives her and, as she puts it, is how she makes the 'magic happen'. 

"At Department 13 over the last 3 months, I led an Agile R&D program to determine the angle of arrival of radio signals from drones. With a really tight budget, a small crew, and a pandemic holding us back I still managed to plan a tech program and build a hardware and software solution that fully integrates within our existing framework and is ready to be installed in the field, if COVID ever allows us out in the field again! We demonstrated the end-to-end system last week and it worked amazing, and we hope to install it with a customer soon!"

Published via Read the full article here

Department 13 are the industry thought leader for sUAS and counter sUAV technology. To find out how Department 13 technology can assist your industry or specific requirements, contact us for an initial confidential discussion.

Unmanned technology industry leaders from around the globe will congregate at the world’s most respected industry expo, AUVSI Exponential 2021, and be the first to see demonstrations of Department 13’s new product releases Scout13 and Atlas13.

The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) will host the event from Tuesday 17 August to Thursday 19 August 2021, in Atlanta Georgia USA. The event will see technologists and policymakers of the highest calibre put Department 13’s products through some of the hardest theoretical tests to solve problematic scenarios across a range of industries, including government, defence, security and commercial enterprise.

Department 13 chief executive Lee Croft said Xponential 2021 is about engaging with key industry players from a range of sectors - we want to see what everyone else is doing, and we want them to see what we’re doing – we’re now taking sUAS capabiltiies to the next level.

“Xponential Atlanta is particularly exciting for us this year. We are launching some of our latest products - Scout13, Atlas13, and Blackbird-C - which will ensure we continue our lead in the unmanned technology arena, and further cement our proven track record in demonstrating technology superiority in our drone, counter-drone and surveillance systems” said Mr Croft.

New to Department 13’s product group, Scout13 is an intelligent drone sensor system providing unparalleled situational awareness for commercial, government and military applications, including drone detection, identification, attribution and location.

Atlas13 is the new software user interface (UI) that Scout13 and Mesmer will talk to, constantly feeding detection data into the system to enable the most efficient drone detections and best practice airspace management and compliance.

Blackbird-C is the latest sUAV from Nightingale Security. It is a smaller transportable version of the Blackbird drone, which is improving the opportunity for faster response mobile surveillance operations.

The low altitude airspace management solutions are part of Department 13’s broader, full spectrum ecosystem of unmanned innovation designed to detect, protect and operate at elite levels surrounding autonomous reconnaissance, security and surveillance.

The ecosystem also includes longstanding industry leader in defence grade counter-unmanned aerial system Mesmer , and the fully-autonomous Nightingale Blackbird drones.

Department 13 has integrated a number of other leading partners within the sUAS industry, to bolster their ecosystem into a truly intelligent turn-key drone and airspace management system, which can be installed and managed from anywhere around the globe.

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

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