Recognition of Australian Unmanned Systems Industry Champions

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

Over 120 nominations were received for the 5 award categories.  Our judging panel have had the difficult job of selecting 4 finalists for each category.  It wasn’t easy as the list of amazing individuals and companies in Australia is large.

Finalists are listed below.

Winners will be announced during the AAUS Gala Dinner that will be held in Canberra in the evening of Wednesday July 17, 2019.  The Gala Dinner is being held in conjunction with the AAUS RPAS in Australian Skies 2019 conference.  Tickets for the Gala Dinner can be purchased via the conference website.




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.

Jackie Dujmovic (Hover UAV)

Jackie’s dedication to the RPAS Industry since the inception of her company Hover UAV has lead her to becoming an influential Woman in a male dominated industry in all aspects from being a leader in setting compliance standards which the industry needs, as well as her involvement with many humanitarian and leading edge drone missions. (Refer to Hover UAV Humanitarian Achievement nomination below). As a mentor for other females to look up to, not just in the RPAS Industry. Jackie has proven through hard work and determination that change can be made on all levels.

LTCOL Keirin Joyce (Australian Army)

Recognised for his hard work and contribution to the Australian unmanned systems industry, LTCOL Joyce has spent the last 13 years in support of the Army Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) capability including deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan and is currently the Australian Army UAS Sub-Program Manager responsible for all Australian Army UAS activities. Keirin’s leadership has delivered remarkable, tangible benefits to the broader unmanned systems industry in Australia. So wide reaching and inspiring is his impact, when discussing unmanned systems in almost any context – Defence, Academia, Research, Industry, Professional Associations, Drone-Racing or STEM outreach programs, not only does everyone recognise Keirin, he is always the first person mentioned. Keirin has become the face of unmanned systems not only in Defence, but across the broader unmanned systems environment.   Critically, this is the result of his deep commitment to the entire capability ecosystem, recognising the importance in developing a STEM workforce of the future that enables future unmanned systems development, understanding the value of collaboration across the research and development environment – from blue sky research institutions, through incremental capability enhancement through current service providers and end-users, through to ultimately realising world-class, disruptive innovation.

Dan Minton (Australian Industry Standards)

Dan Minton serves as General Manager, Industry Skills at Australian Industry Standards (AIS), a Skills Service Organisation (SSO) that provides the skills and support to Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) in the development of VET sector training packages that address industry needs. While acting in this role in the support of the Aviation IRC, Dan has demonstrated great vision and leadership over the past 6-7 years that has driven the development of RPAS training courses in Australia.  In 2012 Dan identified a training needs gap for RPAS professionals and via his role as SSO to the Aviation IRC, he led the development of the Certificate III in Aviation (RPAS VLOS) training package. This was the first training package for RPAS operators in Australia and was quickly adopted by CASA as the standard for licensing of Remote Pilots. (Subsequently CASA leveraged off this syllabus for its own RePL syllabus).  It is no coincidence that the arrival of these training packages in Australia enabled the burgeoning RPAS industry and preceded enormous growth in licensed professionals and RPAS activity. Not resting on its laurels, the Aviation IRC has since revised the Cert III in Aviation (RPAS VLOS) and developed a much needed Cert IV in Aviation (RPAS BVLOS). Dan again was instrumental in driving this work from his role at AIS.   Dan continues to focus on skilling our industry as we move forward and contributes strongly to industry discussion on the skill requirements of many industries. He is very well respected and has also been active on CASA Technical Working Groups surrounding RPAS operations including the recent TWG on the CASR Part 101.

Brooke Tapsall (AGICS)

Brooke is an Aussie flying the banner for drone security on a global scale. She is an acknowledged global thought leader and drone expert, receiving awards and joining international drone working groups and panels. She has been featured in, and contributed to, industry articles and magazines and the DroneALERT system, which she promotes globally, has been a finalist for innovation awards and has been featured in a number of news articles. She is a female entrepreneur that is advocating women in the drone industry and provides support and mentoring to women across the world.  Brooke has worked closely with the European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) from 2014 in testing the use of drones (fixed wing and rotor) for applications of drones in support of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Control with Remote Sensing. Her determination to advocate drone security and put herself forward as an international female CEO over the years has influenced the drone industry. In 2018, Brooke was selected globally from 388 women to win one of 10 coveted “Woman to Watch in UAS 2018’ awards. Each woman is selected as the global leader in a drone field and a female role model positively impacting the drone industry with their work, product and actions. The award for ‘safety technology’ for the DroneALERT system was presented to Brooke. She has also received in recognition for the DroneALERT system, finalist listings for ‘innovative technology’ at CIVSEC 2018 and AUVIS Xpotential (USA) 2019.


The Innovation Award recognises organisations  that have designed a new product, a new service, a new production or manufacturing process contributing to the advancement of the unmanned systems industry.

Airsight Australia

Airsight Australia provides aerial information services including inspection, mapping aerial video and photography.  Since 2016 Airsight Australia has been focused on the development of a low-cost UAV LiDAR scanner that could overcome issues with earlier small systems that had been adapted for drone use. Version 1 of NextCore was released in 2017 and sold to the Australian Department of Environment and in early 2019, the NextCore RN50 was released. The unit was designed to be fitted to the DJI m600 and weighing just 2.4 kilograms could allow operators to achieve in excess of 23 minutes flight time on a single set of batteries.  The reaction to the new unit has been strong, with requests for demonstrations coming from Japan, Korea, Indonesia, South Africa and the United States.


AVCRM has spent over three years researching and developing the AVCRM Paperless Operations software. Over 3.5 million lines of code have gone into the development of this application, providing a custom solution for this current resource heavy reporting system, allowing the Chief Controller and Remote Pilot to stay up to date with the operation and paperwork, whilst continually monitoring safety, and improving efficiency.

AVT Australia

AVT Australia have designed and built a new type of gimballed camera payload. This gimbal was designed by a team of engineers in Melbourne and is being produced in a production facility in Sydney. The gimbal is 140mm in diameter and weighs 1300gms. It has an EO camera with 30X optical zoom, which is fairly standard in this class of gimbal. What is more innovative is that it has a 3X zoom LWIR camera. Typically IR zoom capability is found in much larger gimbals. The IR camera and video processing has also been developed by AVT Australia completing a vertical supply chain which makes use in Australia and exporting faster than ever before  Additionally it has direct drive motors which improve stability significantly. Exports have begun this year with deliveries to: USA, Canada, Israel and Australia.

Sypaq Systems

Sypaq systems have rapidly developed and matured, in a matter of only a few years, the Corvo Family of UAS, now including five different variants (micro fixed wing, multi-rotor, small fixed wing, small tactical and small precision payload delivery). They have done this completely in house: from requirements setting through to manufacture. The Family approach has leveraged efficiencies in sub-system commonality and allowed unique requirements to be implemented for unique capability delivery. Sypaq’s UAS development efforts, and resulting Corvo UAS Family is cutting edge in technology and unique from its competitors, and creatively solves problems in ways not demonstrated in other (global) solutions.


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.

Ace Aviation

Established in 2016, Ace Aviation is a leading drone training organisation servicing Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. In mid 2018 Ace Aviation was approached by the South Australian State Emergency Service to implement a drone training program for volunteers coming from all corners of the state.  These students needed special endorsements and night time training given the nature of their potential operations.  CEO Mark Viswanathan worked closely with the SES point of contact to offer sub 25kg heavy lift type training as well as the standard RePL training that Ace Aviation offers. Field deployments within a national park were performed to secure a real life environment for the training where the final scope was to be able to use RPAS as a tool to reduce time and increase human resource efficiency in Search And Rescue (SAR) deployments.


Established in 2008, Aviassist is a CASA certified company specializing in drone training.  Over the years, Aviassist has introduced several initiatives to increase the safety culture of individuals, organisations, and the broader RPAS community. These initiatives commenced a few years back when they developed a contextualised RPAS training syllabus prior when Private Pilots Licence theory was standard as part of a RePL The introduction of contextualised training facilitated mass adoption and has allowed hundreds of Australian companies to innovate with remote aircraft safely and efficiently.  In 2019 Aviassist invested in the introduction of powered lift training, becoming the first training organisation to do so. Before this, prospective remote pilots had to conduct a CASA flight test without any formal training.  When CASA introduced the excluded category, Aviassist created a training package for those operating in the excluded category. The key driver was to allow access to professional information and training for those utilising the new category.  Alongside training, Aviassist provides a support service for those that have trained with them. The support service provides a sounding board for those new to the aviation industry and utilising remote aircraft. In addition to the standard support, Aviassist provides mentoring to Chief Remote Pilots.  The key driver behind this program is to ensure that organisations can establish a good safety culture and excel in their use of remote aircraft.


UAVAIR is well regarded as an RePL training provider within the Australian UAS industry. What is not so well known is that they were selected by competitive tender to implement a safety, training and education regime for Army – Australia’s largest UAS operator – specifically tailored to Army’s needs. These safety needs are unique as Army is not required to be compliant with CASA, but the Defence Aviation Safety Authority (DASA). As such, UAVAIR, in collaboration with Army, have implemented a very unique safety, education and training initiative/program with a focus of improving safety within Army’s diverse UAS missions.  The Army Multi-Rotor UAS (MRUAS) training program is about large scale, safe use of MRUAS in Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations by operators who would not normally be considered UAS professionals. The program had an aggressive schedule: train 800 MRUAS operators by the end of the calendar year 2018, across 11 training locations and whose operator skill sets ranged from teenage Army Cadets and infantry riflemen through to helicopter pilots, doctors and Generals. The package had to be completed by a student in less than a day’s worth of training. Army articulated the needs for this training program and developed a learning management scaffold that was handed over to UAVAIR to develop the content for. It was a innovative, collaborative and iterative process.

UAV Training Australia

UAV Training Australia has been operating for more than 10 years delivering a range of RPAS training courses to individuals, businesses, industry groups and schools.  In 2016, the company director Wayne Condon wrote the Ministerial to the then QLD Government Education Minister to implement professional RPAS Education and Training within Education Queensland.  He was subsequently requested to be join the newly formed QLD Government, Department of Education & Training RPAS Training Advisory Group (TAG) and to guide the department through a RPAS restricted pilot program which was to be integrated into the Queensland Government Vocational Education Training in Schools (VETiS) program.  Over the following 18 months UAV Training Australia wrote the curriculum against the 14 units and Nationally Accredited Certificate III in Aviation (Remote Pilot) and embedded this 18 month program across 20 schools in South East Queensland and as of 1 June 2019 has with over 360 year 11 & 12 students are currently studying as part of the senior education high school curriculum today undertaking both the Nationally Accredited Certificate III in Aviation (Remote Pilot) and CASA REPL with AROC licensing outcomes.  In addition to this Wayne Condon over the last twelve months has professionally and personally dedicated himself to ensure that as a member of the AAUS and professional educator, training and safety has been raised to a level of high creditability. To reflect on this Mr Condon was part of CASA’s Part 101 RPAS working group along with CASA’s Learning and Development panel and worked closely with CASA’s RPAS Service Delivery Transformation Program (SDTP) and was the first Chief Remote Pilot in Australia to issue a digital RePL on behalf of CASA.


The Humanitarian Achievement Award recognises individuals or organisations that demonstrate the role unmanned technologies can play in bettering our world.

Global Drone Solutions

Global Drone Solutions is a CASA certified drone pilot training organisation based in Australia.  It fits into the Humanitarian Achievement Award as it has formed a partnership with Werobotics to build local drone pilot capability in third world countries allowing aid agencies like Red Cross to reach disaster effected communities quickly. Through this partnership, Global Drone Solutions have trained pilots for free in all 23 “Fly Labs” globally.  The joint mission is to accelerate the positive impact of local aid, health, development and environmental projects.  WeRobotics Flying Labs have logged hundreds upon hundreds of flight hours over the years. Many started flying well before drone regulations were in place in their own countries. Today, most of these countries are working on setting up the standards, processes and accreditation mechanisms necessary to issue their own drone pilot or remote pilot licenses. This presents a challenge for Flying Labs as they seek to obtain these licenses for their most experienced pilots. These pilots need to take accredited courses in Europe, North America, Australia or South Africa to get their drone or remote pilot licenses but doing so is expensive (international flights, lodging, etc.) and time consuming.  Global Drone Solutions offers a combination of online and offline training necessary to obtain a remote pilot license and are providing the online component of the training for free to the growing network of Flying Labs Globally.  Locally in Australia, Global Drone Solutions are working with disadvantaged and disabled youth by offering free scholarships to obtain RePLs as well as mentoring and showing them how to establish a drone business.

Hover UAV

Hover UAV is a drone solutions consultancy and innovation company. The Hover UAV team are currently working on numerous humanitarian projects around the world. Two notable programs that Hover UAV are actively involved with include collaborations with We Robotics – Pacific Flying Labs and Shark Surveillance.  Hover UAV has been working closely with the We Robotics Team in Fiji for the past year, mentoring a young Fijian female team from the Pacific Flying Labs.  Hover’s involvement has enabled the Pacific Flying Labs Team to have the confidence and foundation knowledge to spread across other South Pacific Island nations whilst expanding their applications including using drones to release mosquitoes treated with bacteria to stop the spread of dengue fever, looking at the health of our oceans, medical deliveries and profiling villages after natural disasters to expedite aid relief.  In the world of shark surveillance and beach safety Hover UAV has been pioneers utilising unmanned technology to keep water users safe. Hover UAV was present when the NSW government was deciding if the technology in the first instance would be a viable shark mitigation tool.  From there, specialised equipment, procedures and methods of best practice were developed taking into account not only what researchers were advising on shark behaviour but also taking into account regulatory requirements. This culminated in 9 phases of NSW state government trials before this role was handed to Surf Life Saving NSW. At this point Hover UAVs unique understanding of the inherent complexities shark mitigation has attributed to it, along with experience operating unmanned systems in harsh marine environments saw Hover UAV train over 350 NSW Surf Life Saving Volunteers and Lifeguards on the best methods to maximise the efficiency of drones to ultimately keep beach users safe.

Team Rubicon Australia

Team Rubicon Australia (TRA) is a volunteer disaster response organisation, uniting the experience and skills of military veterans with first responders to assist communities impacted by natural disasters.  In May 2018 TRA established a Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) program, to benefit both communities impacted by natural disasters and Australian military veterans. The humanitarian objectives of the program are twofold; firstly, to provide RPAS gathered data that enables communities, disaster management agencies and individuals to respond to and recover from natural disasters. And secondly, to support and train veterans, many of whom have struggled to adjust to life after leaving the military and who continue to suffer as a result of their experiences during their time in service. By providing them with a skill set which they can then use to benefit others, the TRA RPAS program has given them a greater sense of purpose, harnessing their skills and experience to help those in time of great need.  As a charity organisation, TRA provides this service and the resulting data at no cost. The entire team volunteers their time, be it for training or operations, often taking weeks off work, away from home and family, to assist wherever possible.  Over the past twelve months the TRA RPAS program has trained 12 veterans and deployed them on four operations, undertaking over 200 operational flights and capturing 12,000 post-disaster images in Indonesia and Australia, gathering actionable data across a range of events, including earthquake, tsunami, flood, bushfire and drought.

The Ripper Group and University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

The Ripper Group and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have implemented the first ever artificial Intelligence SharkSpotter© that can, in real time, detect sharks or other marine life (and differentiate between them) with a reliability of over 90%.  Comparably, human observation from helicopters or fixed wing aircraft struggle to attain a detection rate of 30%.  It has been incorporated into the Westpac Little Ripper life saving drones that are fast becoming commonplace on our beaches, especially in the ‘high shark prone’ beaches of northern NSW.  The second part of this achievement is the design and implementation of droppable life saving pods from a drone. When the AI algorithm spots swimmers near sharks, or in distress in rips, it has the ability to drop an inflatable rescue tube, or, if necessary, an electronic shark repellent pod.  The world-first rescue from a drone of two swimmers in distress was successfully undertaken at Lennox Head in January 2018.


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

Mitchell Bannink (University of Adelaide & Overall Photography)

At the age of 33, Mitchell Bannink nothing short of an elite leader, advocate and educator for RPAS operations at the University of Adelaide and the RPAS industry across Australia. He brings a wealth of energy, experience and knowledge to the RPAS industry. Mitch is heavily involved in the full spectrum of operations and training in the RPAS industry, ranging from defence to agricultural research, autonomous swarms to cinematography at major public events. Meanwhile, his deep engagement with regulatory agencies such as CASA, the ATSB, Airservices Australia and various committees, places him as a member of the RPAS community that is abreast of industry and recreational needs while leading the way in advocating for them.  Mitch’s leadership career began when he was appointed as the Head of Check and Training with an Australian airline at the age of 25. More recently, Mitch was a Fleet Safety Investigator for Jetstar, specialising in RPAS/manned aircraft incidents and deconfliction, and responding to the Senate enquiry into RPAS on behalf of the Qantas Group. In addition to his position within the University of Adelaide, Mitch has continued his leadership accomplishments within the RPAS sector, becoming the President of the Canberra Model Aircraft Club, President of the ACT Aeromodellers Association, a Council member of the Model Aeronautical Association of Australia (MAAA), a Safety and Technical Representative to AusALPA, (supporting the RPAS and Accident Investigation portfolio) and Vice President of the ACT UAV Developers organisation, (supporting events such as the Outback Challenge), all within the last 18 months.

Anthony Marsh (AirAssess)

Anthony has worked in the RPAS industry since 2014, ultimately taking the leap from his role as an Aerospace Engineering Officer in the RAAF/CASG in early 2015 to found three companies – Aeroeye, Swoop Aero and AirAssess. All three companies have been successful in their own right, however AirAssess is by far a standout. With his amazing team, Anthony has been able to provide information to insurers at a rate, scale and detail unparalleled. After building their proprietary platform, scaling their network and effectively ‘turning on’ in Sep 2018, AirAssess has seen incredible growth, having completed over 8,000 inspections across 900+ postcodes and surpassing multi-million-dollar revenues, with no external capital or financing. Anthony is also the CRP for Australia’s largest university, Monash University, working as part of the OH&S team to develop a university-wide RPAS governance framework. In addition to his business pursuits, Anthony is also incredibly passionate and active across the RPAS industry more holistically, volunteering a significant amount of his time to participate in several industry working groups, committees and events, including the Australian Industry Skills RPAS Technical Advisory Committee, CASA RPAS ReOC Non-Complex and ReOC BVLOS Sector Risk Profile workshops, CASA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Standards sub-Committee, ACUO Management Committee, Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board RPAS Standards Development Group, and as a witness to the RPAS Senate Inquiry, among others.

Andrew McKinnon (Defence Capability and Acquisition Group)

Andrew McKinnon was part of the team that delivered Army’s first UAS into service. He joined that team as a graduate and quickly rose to become the senior Project Engineer. That team undertook an accelerated acquisition of the Shadow 200 Tactical Unmanned Aerial System (TUAS) for the ADF through Foreign Military Sales from the US Army. Specifically, Mr McKinnon was responsible for the engineering to achieve second pass government approvals, accelerate acquisition, deliver into service, execute the engineering activities as part of Initial Operational Test and Evaluation in Woomera, and provide engineering support to the deployment of the equipment to Afghanistan.  Once deployed and transitioned into in-service status, Mr McKinnon transferred to the Army Aviation Systems Branch (AASB) Unmanned Aerial Systems Management Unit and undertook a range of engineering tasks as a Design Engineer to make the American system an Australian system.  Mr McKinnon has had a gang-busters past 18 months. As the leader of the Army UAS Project Office, Mr McKinnon has driven multiple parallel work efforts: the Black Hornet NUAS into service (161 systems across the Army combat force); the Wasp AE SUAS into service (half-way through a 67 system roll-out across the Army combat force); the Phantom 4 MRUAS into use (350 systems and 800 operators across the entire Army); the rapid acquisition of the Puma AE SUAS+ for service on Op APEC ASSIST; LAND 129 Phase 3 project development through Gate 1 approvals; kicked off the Army Minor Project to acquire a SUAS+ for Battle Groups across Army; and has been the CASG advisor on all Army UAS Innovation Contracts. This has been a profound 18 months for Mr McKinnon and his impact on the Australian UAS industry is felt now and will be for many years to come.

Aonghus Stevens (Measure Australia)

Aonghus Stevens is the founder and CEO of Measure Australia (MA), one of Australia’s largest commercial drones as a service company. Aonghus founded the business 10 years ago whilst at school when he was 15 years of age and was MA’s first Chief Pilot. He was responsible for the establishment of a drone LiDAR capability and has also implemented thermal imaging. A pioneer of infrastructure inspections for commercial clients, his work has revolutionised the way in which Australian companies undertake facilities management and the role that UAVs play in that critical business activity. Aonghus also built MA’s artificial intelligence platform that utilises machine learning to analyse infrastructure data and identify anomalies and areas for maintenance and repair. Without this system MA would be unable to manage the volume of data it is collecting on a daily business around Australia and in the Asia Pacific region. Aonghus has been working with CASA since 2009 and is regularly asked for his views by CASA on its operating requirements and any new procedures or legislation.



Award Winners will be announced that the AAUS Gala DInner (held in conjunction with the RPAS in Australian Skies conference 2019) in Canberra on Wednesday July 17, 2019.