Drones of the future take flight at Cockatoo Island

Media release | 11 August 2017

Sydney’s heritage-listed former naval dockyard Cockatoo Island is now home to a state-of-the-art drone manufacturing operation.

Carbonix is the first Australian company to commercialise and export fixed-wing drones using advanced composite materials like carbon fibre.

Minister for Trade and Industry Niall Blair said the NSW-based company was pushing the boundaries in design and innovation.

'Carbonix has developed a new fixed-wing drone called Volanti. It looks like a plane but has multi-rotors attached so it can take off and land vertically,' Mr Blair said.

'It’s built with carbon fibre, making it extremely light. The airframe alone weighs just 4 kg but it is capable of carrying equipment loads twice its body weight.

'Impressively, the nose cone weighs less than a foam cup but is 10 times as strong and can handle hot temperatures up to 120 degrees Celsius.

'The potential for a drone of this kind is endless—it can help farmers monitor and analyse crops, survey mining operations, transport emergency medical supplies, undertake search and rescue missions in military and defence applications and even aid in shark spotting.'

The Volanti drone is strong and stable enough to withstand winds up to 60 km/h in flight. It can reach speeds of up to 100 km/h or travel as slowly as 55 km/h. Even more impressive is its energy efficiency, with the drone able to fly for up to seven hours if needed.

Carbonix is one of many companies the state is supporting with the NSW Defence and Industry Strategy, which aims to grow defence and aerospace industries to promote jobs and investment as well as innovation, research and commercialisation.

'On a World Heritage site, in the heart of Sydney, Carbonix is building on a proud maritime defence history with a whole new industry which is set to evolve more and more in the years to come,' Mr Blair said.

'From an infantry unit to an air force pilot, drones have rapidly become an indispensable part of the tool kit for every arm of the modern military.

'As Australia moves towards manufacturing its own military drones, the ground-breaking work of Carbonix means NSW will be at the forefront of this technology.'

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Watch the video of the drone in action