The Karratha Country Club was abuzz with excitement as Wedgetail Aerospace showcased its innovative WA-100 drone in a mesmerising aerial demonstration, held in conjunction with the 2023 Pilbara Summit. The display left the audience in awe and ignited discussions about the transformative potential of these drones for various industries. Wedgetail Aerospace chief operating officer Dominic Letts addressed a crowd comprised of representatives from mining and innovation companies. He highlighted how these advanced drones could enhance everyday business operations while simultaneously reducing costs and ensuring employee safety. Visitors to the demonstration had the unique opportunity to step into the drone hub, where they could witness skilled pilots remotely navigating the drones through screens on the ground, offering a bird’s-eye view of the landscape. The exhibition featured expert pilots, including Steve Penfold, chief remote pilot at Wedgetail Aerospace, and Liam Outram, the senior remote pilot and chief instructor. The WA-100 UAV Rotary Drone boasts impressive specifications, with a maximum speed of 120km/h and an optimal cruise speed of 100km/h. Its maximum endurance extends to six hours, allowing for a maximum travel distance of 600km. Wedgetail Aerospace is a pioneer in the “drone as a service” industry, specialising in aerial data acquisition, cargo delivery, and training for government and commercial customers. Their drones are equipped to carry complex sensors, artificial intelligence capabilities, and cargo over long distances, all while ensuring safe operation beyond the visual line of sight from the ground. These drones have numerous applications, including search and rescue missions, inspection and monitoring of critical infrastructure such as power transmission lines, gas and water pipelines, telecommunications networks, and road and rail systems. They also excel in compliance monitoring of both land and maritime environments. Importantly, these drones can deliver time-sensitive cargo, making them invaluable in critical operations like delivering medicine and aiding in surveillance and search and rescue missions. Mr Letts emphasised the potential cost-saving and efficiency benefits of these drones for industries. “Downtime at mine sites is costing these mining companies between $100,000 and $500,000 per hour,” he said. “If drones can be utilised to more quickly deliver the critical parts and materials to resolve this downtime, then savings are to be had.” Following the demonstration in Karratha, Wedgetail Aerospace plans to showcase its drones in several key locations across Canberra, Sydney, Kalgoorlie, and Perth in the coming months. The company also envisions establishing drone operational hubs in strategic locations starting in 2024.