Drone plan taking flight as discussions progress with industry players

Western Queensland drone initiative eyes Japan as next step


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A western Queensland delegation is planning to visit Japan in March.

A western Queensland delegation is planning to visit Japan in March.

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A trip to Japan in March offers the chance to progress idea.

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Plans to cement western Queensland as a drone testing hub are bubbling away, with stakeholders eyeing a trip to Japan in March to meet with international industry players. 

Last year Barcaldine hosted regional Australia's first ever drone symposium, where the Remote Area Planning and Development Board launched its vision to make the region a centre for national and international drone testing. 

RAPAD is now working with Trade and Investment Queensland to hammer down the details of a trip to Japan, slated for March if everything goes according to plan.

It is understood there have also been discussions about hosting a visit to the region by Japanese satellite company JSAT, with the details to be ironed out in coming weeks.

Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler will visit Japan if the trip gets the green light, with plans to visit companies such as Mitsubishi.

"The Japanese are leaders in that technology, but it's a bit hard to trial in Tokyo," Mr Chandler said. 

"What better place to trial than central west Queensland, flying from Barcy to Longreach to Birdsville. There are some pretty amazing stretches to fly."

Although there was a lot of work to do to secure firm commitments to invest in the region, Mr Chandler was upbeat about western Queensland's prospects. 

"There's no reason why anyone can't do business in regional Queensland," he said.

"We are even looking at a drone racing course. A company in Mackay is keen on coming down and doing a few workshops to see what the demand is for that technology."

RAPAD chief executive David Arnold said the feedback for a western Queensland drone testing hub had so far been positive. 

"It's tentative days, but this is not a make believe industry," he said. 

"It's real and it is moving at an exponential pace."

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