Recognition of Australian Uncrewed Systems Industry Champions 2022

9 March 2022

AAUS is once again proud to be hosting an Industry Awards night to recognise individuals and organisations that have made a significant contribution to the Australian uncrewed systems industry.

This year, over 80 nominations were received for the 7 award categories highlighting the strength of our rapidly developing industry.  

Finalists are listed below.

Winners will be announced during the AAUS Gala Dinner that will be held in Canberra on the evening of Tuesday March 29, 2022.  The Gala Dinner is being held in conjunction with the AAUS RPAS in Australian Skies 2022 conference.  




The Leadership Award recognises individuals or organisations that lead the way with advocacy work that strives to improve the commercial and / or technological viability of the unmanned system industry.


  • Kelly Cox (Boeing Defence Australia) has made significant and lasting contributions to airspace integration, regulatory development, and diversity advancements across the global uncrewed aircraft system sector. Kelly has over 17 years of aerospace experience, with nine years in the uncrewed sector and the impact and legacy of her leadership is advancing and proving the value of the art of the possible in: diversity in a technical workforce, safe airspace integration, safe routine BVLOS operations above 400 feet AGL in non-segregated airspace, and working collaboratively with regulators around the globe.
  • Reece Clothier (Boeing), Luke Gumley and Sharon Marshall-Keeffe (CASA) for the skill and leadership shown in Co-Chairing the RPAS and AAM strategic roadmap technical working group as Co-Chairs.  As regulatory risk is a significant barrier, a regulatory roadmap will have a significant impact for the emerging RPAS and AAM industry for many years to come.  The Co-Chairs drove an intense effort from July 2021 through to January 2022 that involved 73 professionals across industry and CASA to arrive at the draft roadmap (submitted January 2022). 
  • Jackie Dujmovic (Hover UAV) for her dedication advocacy work on behalf of industry. Jackie Dujmovic is the CEO of Hover UAV and one of the world’s leading experts in RPAS consultation. She is an advocate for the growth of the RPAS industry in Australia, increased aviation safety, and Women in STEM fields. She has never been far from the pulse of the RPAS industry in Australia and is involved with many representative bodies.
  • John Fleming (FPV Australia) for his sustained efforts in industry since 2006 as an advocate for training and safety in the RPAS industry.   John has been involved in many industry and CASA working groups and is happy to share his broad knowledge for the benefit of industry and emerging young students.
  • Mirragin RAS Consulting for championing sovereign capability on behalf of the uncrewed system industry in Australia. Mirragin have embarked on several activities that focus on the education of potential clients in an attempt to drive further demand; per the aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Mirragin see that greater education will benefit the industry as a whole, not just a sub-element, with a legacy effect. This is unfunded effort, applied by many of Mirragin staff, for the betterment of the industry leaving a lasting legacy. Examples include the Mirragin Drones for Good podcast, significant work promoting sovereign capability to Defence and the development of the Australian Drone Ecosystem Map.
  • Clem Newton-Brown (Skyportz Australia) for his vision, persistence and leadership in advocating for the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) industry.  Clem serves on several Federal, State, industry and international committees advancing the development of the rules and regulations around establishing a whole new era in clean, green electric aviation. The success of the global industry in AAM relies on being able to land eVTOLs in new locations apart form existing helipads and airports. While there are many players in other parts of the ecosystem, Clem has been a leader in Australia and globally in advocating for the importance of landing infrastructure to enable AAM to fulfil its potential
  • Dr Andrew Tridgell (The ArduPilot Foundation / Aerial Robotics Australia) for his work as Lead Developer for ArduPilot, an open source autopilot software project in widespread global use.  Andrew has been a driving force in the evolution, accessibility and democratisation of uncrewed systems globally for over 10 years. In addition to his efforts in autopilot software development, Andrew has been a mainstay of the ArduPilot Partners Program which provides support to industry adopters of ArduPilot from around the world.


The Innovation – technology Award recognises organisations that have developed drone technologies including drone systems or sub-systems.  (eg. drone, payloads, avionics, powerplants, data exploitation systems) that has had a significant positive impact for end users or the broader uncrewed systems industry.


  • Ascent Vision Technologies Australia for the development of the CM234 Spitfire gimbal,  a light weight, 4-axis stabilised, seven sensor imaging system.  Designed, developed, and produced in Australia, the CM234 originated with Defence Innovation Hub contract P18-937600, and was later selected for incorporation into the Land 129 Phase 3 program to support Australian Defence customers. Not only does the CM234 deliver advanced ISR and target acquisition capabilities to the Australian Army during tactical unmanned aerial systems (TUAS) operations, the CM234 supports border protection, force protection, or search and rescue missions and can be easily implemented across a variety of platforms.
  • Carbonix for the development of the Carbonix Ottano RPA. In collaboration with launch customer Ausgrid, Carbonix identified critical operational requirements to make drone-based linear infrastructure aerial surveying practical and economical. This included radio connectivity independent of ground repeaters, simultaneous payload operation and a climb rate sufficient to follow steep hills at high elevation on a hot day. Flying 8-10 hours low and slow carrying a 7kg payload with satellite connectivity represents an extraordinary capability that had not been realised previously. It allows linear infrastructure operators to replace costly, polluting, and hazardous crewed flights with drones whilst getting higher quality and more frequent data.
  • Currawong Engineering for the development of electronic speed controllers (ESC) that have one of the highest power densities on the market in ESCs for UAVs. Designed to power a brushless DC (BLDC) motor which is attached to the propellers on a UAV this small piece of innovative engineering has helped revolutionise reliable flying for Currawong’s customers. 
  • Innovaero for the development of the FOX (MUAS) Maritime Uncrewed Aerial System and Optionally Piloted Aircraft Long-Endurance (OPAL) programmes. FOX delivers the unmatched combination of up to 40kg payload capacity, 11-hour endurance in a VTOL platform with systems reliability providing mission assurance for high value payloads. In July 2021 the FOX became the first large RPAS to fly under civil regulations in Australia. OPAL provides up to 250kg payload capacity and 14 hours endurance in a CTOL platform (conversion of an existing civil aircraft) with enabling technologies for uncrewed BVLOS operations providing a low cost, accessible platform for a broad range of emerging RPAS market segments operating under civil regulations.


The Innovation – Operations Award will go to the organisation or individual that has developed novel and innovative operational capabilities to benefit customers.  (eg. airspace integration, swarming, novel applications).


  • AVCRM for development of 4 new modules for its RPA operational and compliance management platform.  The 4 newly developed modules that are unique to AVCRM include an Integrated Auto Authorisation System for operations within the regulatory distance of a controlled airport for both Australia and New Zealand; an Auto Telemetry Syncing and Processing System for automatic RPA logs and customisable flight assessment; a Schedule Maintenance System, which is compliant to all categories of RPA including above 150kg (Type Certificate); and Integrated GPS Track and Monitoring System for Operational Control rooms.  The integrated modules of AVCRM are allowing RPA operations to operate in complex environments and ensures that the regulator has access to the information required to approve complex operations. The platform enables operators to gain complex airspace approvals, EVLOS (1,2)/BVLOS approvals, ensuring that the industry is constantly able to evolve safely and with the highest operational compliance. AVCRM developed solutions are 100% customisable, allowing operators to change the operational standards within the operational platform to exactly match their needs and/or the regulators compliance requirements.
  • DTLX (Australia) for their innovative work educating farmers across Australia on the use of drones in agriculture.  The programs have saved farmers large amounts of money using drone technology, becoming more profitable, effective and efficient in monitoring of livestock, fencelines, pastures, drought management and spreading of fertilisers as well as decreasing Occupational Health and Safety risk.
  • FlyFreely for the development of the Fly Freely Field App, designed to eliminate problems for operators documenting operations in the field without internet connectivity. If a mission has been pre-planned (i.e. ReOC operations) all an operator needs to do is swipe down to refresh their mission list before they leave the office. All actions for those missions will be stored on the device and synced automatically when internet connectivity is available.  At the end of a long day operators can be extremely confident all records including forms and checklists including flight times are accurate and compliant. End of mission paperwork reconciliation time reduced by up to 65%. Furthermore, if they will be planning offline (i.e. Excluded RPA operations) in the field they simply toggle the offline mode to download the latest workflows, forms and checklists version to the device for true offline mission planning. This is a truly unique capability in the market at the moment and has been completely driven by customer demand and co-developed with customers. The Field App can be sideloaded onto Smart Controllers, Crystal Sky or any other Android based system to eliminate the need for multiple devices in the field. Additionally the FlyFreely Field App also includes the ability to provide a RPA serviceability declaration while in the field to ensure compliance with the CASA Part 101 Manual of Standards, report and record infield maintenance along with fully integrated CASA verified airspace checking to name a few.
  • Hover UAV for the development of operational technologies that enable a remote operations centre.  The Hover UAV Remote Operations Centre is one of only a handful of first approvals given globally to operate RPAS remotely. The technology that powers the Remote Operations Centre (ROC) innovates on traditional BVLOS approvals in Australia by solving one of the biggest roadblocks to the next level of remote operations – communication. The Hover UAV ROC uses a “comms-in-a-box” solution, developed by Hover UAV that differ from regular radio-over-internet-protocol solutions by allowing the remote user to switch channels and have full control just like a normal radio user. This “comms-in-a-box” contains a remotely controllable local VHF radio with on demand frequency changes, an ADS-B scanner, and the means to enable two-way communication of both from anywhere in Australia with internet access. Combined with a drone-in-a-box solution, this new technology will enable safer remotely operated BVLOS flights by giving Remote Pilots the same communication capability as local traffic operating in the same area meaning more complicated approvals like One-To-Many are now within sight. It will also open the possibility of a single pilot controlling multiple drones in multiple geographic locations since they’ll have total control of radio communication functions, solving one of the biggest regulatory challenges in this complex area of approvals.


The Education & Safety Award recognises individuals or organisations who demonstrate leadership in educating the unmanned systems industry with particular emphasis of developing a safety-focussed culture.


  • Air Support Queensland (trading as UAV TRAINING Australia) for their program delivering mission specific training to RePL candidates. Utilising this training program, government agencies and the Australian Defence Force are now measuring the success of candidates competing the initial RePL against operational requirements outcomes implemented by Air Support Queensland’s (UAV Training Australia) for mission critical flights.  Air Support Queensland has witnessed the positive impact  of developing a safety-focused operational culture and at the true need for this program in the uncrewed industry by undertaking RPAS Fire Operations support in 2021 with HQ Plantations in extreme Fire and Operational conditions.
  • Aviassist for the design and implementation of a SORA (Specific Operational Risk Assessment) training workshop for those operators seeking complex approvals, including Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations. The program is specifically aimed at those operators seeking complex approvals from the regulator and those wishing to upskill their knowledge. The SORA training is undertaken over two days which covers the SORA methodology and real world application through examples and scenarios brought by the students themselves. The course also references the CASA standard scenarios, their use and limitations. The objectives of the program are: to enhance operators to have a true understanding of the operational safety objectives and how to use SORA as a tool to develop BVLOS safety cases and robust operating procedures, increase in safety outcomes achieved through operators having a better understanding of the risk methodology, provide confidence to the regulator, reduce the reliance on consultants in developing BVLOS safety cases, reduce the resources required to review BVLOS safety cases, and remove a perceived barrier to complex operations. Over 70 students have completed SORA training since July 2021 across 40 unique operators representing multiple industries and varying organisation size. This has resulted in an increase in the amount of operator initiated BVLOS applications and resultant BVLOS operations. The process to develop a BVLOS safety case is a more collaborative effort with a better understanding of the risk methodology.
  • Bendigo Aerial for their safety program to educate young children on drone safety through a catchy song (Drone Safety Song) and a children’s rhyming book (Drone Adventure) that underlines a series of essential safety rules and regulations when introducing children to flying drones. Released in July 2021, this self-funded project is aiming to get one free book into every primary school library in Australia. The song is available free on all platforms. Safety is a primary concern when dealing with drones at any age, but the increasing popularity of drones and young pilots raises particular concerns. With the uptake of drones and young pilots learning fundamental drone rules and regulations skills become just as important as learning maths and science and are best taught in ways that are fun and playful.
  • FPV Australia for its safety focussed training and support programs for clients.  FPV Australia have continued to build on its training services with programs designed to keep clients abreast of regulatory changes and industry best practice for RPAS operational safety.  Features of the FPV Australia program are ongoing mentoring of all students, free lifetime access to the FPV Australia online lecture library, free online training videos, an RPAS scholarship program, special school programs, regular online interactive webinars and chief remote pilot compliance program.  The key focus for these programs is safety and to raise awareness through the provision of ongoing information and education. 
  • Global Drone Solutions for its commitment to excellence quality in delivering training programs that exist through an ongoing relationship with the client. GDS’ focus on quality and excellence begins with first contact and extends beyond graduation. GDS believes it has an obligation to help graduates break into the sector, whether as employees or as start-up businesses. To this end they offer a free mentoring program for graduates who have attained a commercial drone licence and need assistance to realise their career or business goals.
  • Hover UAV for its program in providing safety and education for BVLOS operations. Their work in the field of safety includes: regularly sharing our knowledge in the field of safety on webinars, presenting on safety at conventions, providing SORA and BVLOS training, maintaining a BVLOS hub for visitors to see firsthand how safety in BVLOS operations works, publishing safety and regulatory content on their website. Hover UAV openly share their safety experience and knowledge through these various mediums to actively contribute to the collective safety expertise of the remote aviation industry. Hover UAV also offer SORA and BVLOS educational courses which educate clients on the structure of the SORA safety assessment and re-enforce a key company value that you should always aim for the highest safety standard you can reach, not just what the SORA asks you to complete. These courses directly educate clients on how to safely approach complex BVLOS operations from analysing initial needs all the way through to preparing their SORA application.
  • Shoal Group for its work under contract by the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) Unmanned Aerial System Management Unit (UASMU) to explore the use of Quantitative Risk Analysis methodologies within Safety Assessments of Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS). This project involved a shared exploration of Operational and Regulatory Needs of Safety Assessments and the development of sophisticated simulations and models to evaluate the feasibility of Quantitative Risk Analyses for this application. Shoal’s bespoke software toolkit, Shoal Aerospace and Risk Capability (SHARC), which is a mathematical interpretation and software implementation of the Australian Flight Safety Code’s Risk Hazard Analysis and Maximum Probably Loss methodologies was used as a starting point. Shoal have developed a sophisticated model of a UAS for use within the Shoal Aerospace and Risk Capability (SHARC) to consider multiple failure modes of UAS, and perform statistical analysis on the results of the simulations to quantify the individual and collective risk to people. This step-change in safety thinking for UAS is valuable for both the Defence and Civil aviation communities and fills an emerging need to better understand the risks posed by UAS to people. Furthermore, these efforts lay the foundations for more comprehensive safety assessments involving risk to infrastructure, other airspace users, and extending tailoring to specific operations.


The Social Impact Award replaces the Humanitarian Achievement Award and will recognise individuals or organisations who demonstrate a mission, capability or technology that has a positive impact on society or has focused on the betterment of the uncrewed industry as a whole.


  • Air Support Queensland (trading as Advanced Aerial Solutions) for critical mission and operational capability that has had a positive impact on society during severe recent flood and fire events. In 2021, Air Support Queensland undertook RPAS Fire Operations support in with HQ Plantations in extreme Fire and Operational conditions. During Feb-Mar 2022, Air Support Queensland completed 30 RPAS missions totaling over 16 hours in support of emergency services relating to the devastating floods of SE Queensland. The  RPAS operational capability missions performed with the Matrice M300 streamed liver imagery back to the Noosa Council Disaster Co-Ordinations Centre to assist Local Government, Energex, QLD Police, Fire and Emergency services to successfully coordinate evacuation and recovery of people impacted and stranded by this event. The missions demonstrated the benefit of RPAS technology to government officials in a life saving capacity.  
  • Dendra Systems for its work to empower humanity to restore the balance of our natural world by creating the tools needed to drive scalable ecosystem restoration. Dendra works around the world to restore land on behalf of global natural resource companies as well as public agencies and governments, to accelerate the rate at which we bring back natural ecosystems for land that has been degraded and is vulnerable to ecosystem restoration threats. Combining specialised data ecology, RPAS, AI and aerial seeding, Dendra provides end-to-end solutions that enable faster, cheaper and more effective and scalable restoration of the world’s natural ecosystems. Dendra’s technology helps restore degraded land to flora and fauna-rich habitats 11 times faster than traditional hand planting. Dendra Systems is a global company that was founded in 2014. Their first commercial operations in Australia were  in 2017, which has been the foundation to all their work ever since. They have been expanding to partners with some of the world’s biggest companies, in the natural resource sector, infrastructure and government, to help rehabilitate land and restore biodiverse ecosystems, in an industry where there is global demand for solutions that can be applied at scale.


The Diversity & Inclusion Award will recognise individuals or organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to supporting diversity and fostering inclusion within the uncrewed systems industry

This is a new award for 2022.


  • Dr Karen Joyce (She Maps, Geonadir and James Cook University) for her leadership and advocacy work for diversity and inclusion within the uncrewed systems industry and more broadly geospatial sciences and STEM. She Maps are on a mission to diversify STEM in schools through providing programs focussed on drones and geospatial science. Their STEM programs are aimed at fostering engagement with every gender, creed and culture in the school environment. She Maps initially focussed on the fact that women are vastly under-represented in science and technology industries (including the uncrewed systems industry). The co-founders, Dr Karen Joyce and Paul Mead, have successfully used drones to inspire thousands of students across Australia, including regional and remote areas and First Nations communities. She Maps runs 6 STEM education programs ranging from kindergarten through to Year 12, educators and industry using drones. Karen is a strong believer of “you can’t be what you can’t see” so She Maps have produced a book celebrating diversity in STEM, drones and geospatial science aimed at young readers (aged 5-9): Pippa and Dronie. The program also supports a number of charities to get copies of the books to places such as remote indigenous communities. More than 30,000 students, teachers and communities have already benefited from She Maps programs across Australia, the United States, United Kingdom, and Asia. Dr Joyce founded Geonadir  which has a mission to organise the world’s drone data to protect at-risk ecosystems. She recently received a government grant for Geonadir under the Australian Government’s Boosting Female Founders Initiative. Geonadir stands for anti-racist, feminist and decolonial approaches in the way they undertake their work. Karen is also an active member of the AAUS Diversity and Inclusion Working Group and makes a valuable contribution by leveraging her extensive network of people working in the many aspects of D&I.  She is also a Director of the Advancing Earth Observation Forum which incorporates the national drone remote sensing conference. Karen is leading the program development and is ensuring diversity and inclusion is considered in all aspects of the program. This is something that she is passionate about. Karen was lead author on a paper published in the journal Drones in 2021 titled “Of Course We Fly Unmanned – We’re Women”. The paper was shared via social media and had over 4,200 views on the journal’s website. For many organisations and associations around the world that were considering moving away from the term ‘unmanned’ in their identities, this paper provided the impetus to do so or start the conversation to revise their name. 

  • Siobhan Sleater McMahon (Suas Rov) for her tireless work to increase female participation in the RPAS industry.  At the heart of this work centres around Suas Rov’s work with Swinburne and RMIT universities, where she has developed a higher education course that affords learners with an opportunity to obtain their Remote Pilot’s Licence as part of their higher education (University) Degree Course. Of particular note is the focus that Siobhan and her University Partners have had on attracting female students into the course. Working with Swinburne University, Siobhan launched the course last year and has now achieved a female cohort of over 28% with enrolments this year tracking above 30%, for a S.T.E.M. course this is a significant achievement and significantly exceeds the female participation of other higher education electives. Siobhan is also actively engaged with RMIT University and is the Industry Partner for an all female project team focusing on utilising RPAS technologies to provide critical services to remote communities. Siobhan’s dedication to raising awareness for more females goes far beyond her role as Head of e-Learning for Suas Rov.  

The NextGen Achievement Award recognises young individuals (under 35 yo) that demonstrate elite capability and leadership in their field within the uncrewed systems sector.


  • Kihan Garcia (FliightTechnologies) for his impressive body of work as part of the drone industry for over 7 years. Over the last year he has taken the leap into starting his own company which is going from strength the strength. Kihan is one of Australia’s leading technical integration specialists. There is not many people in the commercial industry that has not gone to Kihan for advice before purchasing equipment or integrating a sensor. He has been a crucial member of many successful programs such as Infravision line stringing, Pypervision Airport Fog dispersing, Unleash live remote operations integrations ,endeavor energy programs and Hover UAV BVLOS Programs. Kihan is very patient and generous with his time which he spends educating industry on the technical elements required to push boundaries in the RPAS Industry.
  • Mathew Gardiner (Shoal Group) for his important technical roles with Shoal Group leading development spirals on a number of key projects with the Australian Space Agency and the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG).  For the latter role, Mat led multiple development spirals that extended Shoal Aerospace Risk Capability (SHARC) toolkit for other use cases and applications, including launch systems and guided weapons. The primary growth of the capability occurred in the Uncrewed Aerial System (UAS) space. Shoal was engaged by the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group’s (CASG) Unmanned Aerial System Management Unit (UASMU) to explore the development of a Safety Assessment Framework for the risk assessment of UAS. Shoal initiated the UAS System Safety Initiative project, with Mat as the project lead. Under Mat’s technical leadership, the project team then performed a feasibility study to address the operational and regulatory needs relating to quantitative risk analysis. SHARC was extended to assess the ground risk of Defence UAS operations. The project team designed and implemented a fixed-wing UAS model with multiple failure modes and developed the statistical analysis processes required to generate prototype outputs and visualisations. In particular, Mat developed novel mathematical approaches for efficiently calculating risk along a known flight path. Mat and his team worked closely with CASG to ensure the prototype processes, assumptions, and outputs were fit-for-purpose and to improve solution concepts.
  • Isaac Palmer (AVCRM) for his impressive body of work for AVCRM and the broader industry. Isaac leads the Operations Team at AVCRM, managing all aspects of user engagement, from day-to-day operational guidance to large scale rollouts and innovation assistance. Isaac is able to integrate industry knowledge from various fields and collaborate with the client network to produce best in class guidance, processes and support.  During the past 18 months, Isaac has played a pivotal role in the development and implementation of complex compliance programs for Australia’s largest RPA Organisations, developed specialised guidance packages for emergency services agencies across Australia for procedural compliance to ensure operational efficiencies are achieved. This was developed with a multi-tiered approach in order to provide specific role training at the pilot, Senior pilot and Operations management/oversight roles. Streamlining operational workflows and providing internal hierarchy and succession planning.  Running AVCRM’s Operations team, Isaac has successfully implemented and managed large-scale rollouts to schemes of over 120 local councils in Australia from various aspects of RPA Utilisation (from onboarding entirely, to fully fledged ReOC holders). The role sees him communicating and scheduling regional based working groups and mentorship platforms between AVCRM, councils and third party providers for the benefit of the broader industry. Isaac is avidly pursuing the Diversity and Inclusion AAUS Working Group for action, with aims of addressing issues within the industry, and providing equal opportunity across all aspects of the field.  Through work with the AAUS Industry groups (MOS and D&I), Isaac is at the forefront of regulation and industry, and able to provide unique insight into various operational fields.
  • Tom Putland (TAS DCRC) has been a crucial part of the growth of the drone industry in Australia. From his work with the JARUS SORA WG6 , CASA and most recently his work with Trusted Autonomous Systems and developing much needed detect and avoid standards. Tom is one of the smartest people in the industry but always takes the time to clearly explain and educate the wider industry so we can all move forward together.

Award Winners will be announced on 29 March 2022 at the AAUS Gala DInner in Canberra (held in conjunction with RPAS in Australian Skies 2022).