CRC-P grants fund firefighting aircraft, LiDAV technology

By Lauren Davis
Monday, 26 February, 2024

CRC-P grants fund firefighting aircraft, LiDAV technology

Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic has announced $51 million in funding under Round 15 of the Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) program, which encourages collaboration between industry and researchers on breakthrough projects with potential to transform industries and create jobs.

The program supports industry-led research projects by offering matched funding of between $100,000 and $3 million for a period of up to three years. The latest grants acknowledge 21 projects with promising commercial potential that solve a wide range of community and economic challenges.

Aircraft designer and manufacturer AMSL Aero has received $3 million through the program to adapt its zero-emission aircraft, Vertiia, to fight bushfires autonomously in a way that keeps firefighters safer and enables night-time firefighting. The company will work with its project partners to develop and test a remotely piloted version of Vertiia, claimed to be the world’s most efficient long-range zero-emissions electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, that is capable of effectively spraying preventative fire retardant and dropping hundreds of litres of water.

“We will develop a version of Vertiia that enables Rural Fire Service crews to prevent and put out fires remotely using swarms of autonomous aircraft, like a hi-tech flying bucket-brigade that can operate day and night, radically improving crew safety and significantly reducing crew fatigue,” said AMSL Aero CEO Max York. “Vertiia’s compelling unit economics also mean we can operate more aircraft in more places, and because Vertiia is long range and zero emissions, it gives us the ability to stay on task longer and means we are not contributing to the climate change problems that are leading to more fires.”

Advanced Navigation, an innovator in AI for robotic and navigation technologies, has meanwhile received $1 million in funding to accelerate production of the company’s Light Detection, Altimetry and Velocimetry (LiDAV) technology for Earth applications. The aim is to develop a navigation sensor measuring velocity in 3D, creating a compact, lightweight and low-cost solution delivering precision that is not possible within the same size and weight constraints.

Currently, LiDAV is supporting NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to improve the safety and reliability of autonomous landing manoeuvres on the lunar surface. The Earth solution of LiDAV is expected to solve complex autonomy challenges across aerospace, automotive, weather, railways and logistics, with applications including:

  • Aiding aircraft during take-off and landing, particularly in difficult conditions.
  • Measuring weather patterns far more accurately to significantly improve weather detection and forecasting.
  • Guiding passenger drones and autonomous vehicles reliably under all conditions.
  • Building geophysical models from gravitational surveys.
  • Guiding autonomous navigation in GNSS-denied environments, particularly for defence and security applications.

It is hoped that the innovation will strengthen Australia’s sovereign capability in the high-end uncrewed autonomous vehicle (UAV) market while enhancing SME project partners’ global competitiveness.

The full list of Round 15 recipients is available at

Image caption: AMSL Aero’s zero-emission aircraft, Vertiia.

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