New Australian Drone for Amphibious Support

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The Australian Navy has tested a new LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) drone designed to support amphibious operations. The drone performed bathymetric and littoral light detection during this year’s ‘Exercise Sea Raider’ and projected green wavelength laser beams through the sea surface to map the seabed and beach topography.

According to Interesting Engineering, this S-100 drone can fly for several hundred kilometers in most weather conditions, day or night, and can be integrated with a mothership’s system to assist in intelligence and air traffic control missions.

Australian Amphibious Force Lieutenant Commander Thomas Lennards explained that with this new technique they “generate survey plans for landing areas, then create 3D flight profiles and gradients, either electronically or paper, which are used as a briefing tool of shallow water bathymetry, beach, back of beach topography.”

Experts from the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) have also tested hand-held 3D laser scanners for tactical applications like battlefield damage assessment.

DST Geography Scientist Dr. Alexander Lee tested portable laser scanners that offer 3D views of landscapes, which can be used for detection analysis like assessing battlefield damage. “The data it generates allows us to better understand the limits of the LiDAR data collected from airborne platforms like the S100,” he said.

According to Interesting Engineering, the aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 200 kg and can fly for 6 hours, it can reach speeds of up to 220 kph and has a ceiling of 5,500 meters. Optional external AVGAS fuel tanks can extend its endurance to over 10 hours.