Swoop Aero, the Aussie drone-powered logistics firm, has obtained approval from Australia’s Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (CASA) to operate their drone logistics Remote Operations Centre (ROC), allowing them to pilot up to five aircraft across three continents beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS). Pilots can operate their drones beyond the physical view of the aircraft.
Announced at the AWS Summit 2022 in Sydney, the CASA-approved ROC will permit Swoop Aero to operate like an airliner, centralising resources in one facility for visibility and network operations efficiency globally. The ROC can allow Swoop Aero to scale up operations with much higher ratios of remote pilots to remotely piloted aircraft (30 aircraft to one pilot).
How feasible is Swoop Aero’s idea?
Swoop Aero expects to have approved BVLOS drone logistics in Queensland and Victoria by the end of 2022. Pilots will be able to undertake routine and emergency transportation of essential health supplies and marine ecology and surf rescue management. The company’s ROC architecture uses Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon.com company.
Using AWS, Swoop Aero established application programming interfaces (APIs) with air traffic control and unmanned traffic management (UTM) systems, helping the company’s drones deconflict with each other, other drones, as well as manned aircraft in the vicinity.
Swoop Aero’s use of AWS also assisted its operations across Africa, specifically in Malawi. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Swoop Aero became the first organisation to remotely pilot an aircraft from Australia to support the continued delivery of health supplies in Malawi in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Population and NGO partner, VillageReach.
“CASA’s approval to operate drones through the Remote Operations Centre marks a significant milestone for Swoop Aero,” said Eric Peck, CEO of Swoop Aero.
“Using AWS increased our scalability and delivery, and the direct support from the AWS team was key to our success over the past two years. As a result, we improved delivery speed, accessibility, availability of health supplies, and patient outcomes,” Eric further commented.
“We’re pleased to support Swoop Aero as they develop their tech and digital twins to operate drone logistics,” said Ben Thurgood, APJ Head of Industry Solutions Architecture at AWS.
“This infrastructure helps Swoop Aero to remotely deliver essential health supplies in safer and more reliable ways. We’re proud to help the team address some of healthcare’s biggest supply chain challenges through evolving drone logistics combined with our cloud capabilities.”
What is the importance of ROC?
Safety remains the principal concern for Swoop Aero and its partners. The accuracy and autonomy of Swoop Aero’s platform is enhanced through the integration of AWS machine learning services. These include Amazon SageMaker, Amazon SageMaker Ground Truth, and Amazon Mechanical Turk, for model training, data labelling, and crowdsourcing, respectively.
Swoop Aero will continue to use the ROC as an educational resource to train and upskill new pilots globally. This training initiative includes working with organisations like the African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA) to recruit and train new crew members to progressively scale up network operations across Malawi, DR Congo, Mozambique, Namibia, and Sierra Leone.
Zachary Kennedy, Swoop Aero’s Chief Regulatory Officer, added, “The ROC will serve as a vital function to foster complete visibility of drone operations. From a regulatory perspective, the ROC ensures Swoop Aero is meeting top aviation and safety standards at a global level.”
The ROC reflects Swoop Aero’s latest innovation to strengthen and streamline international operations. The integration of the Kite™ aircraft alongside the Remote Operations Centre (ROC) will allow Swoop Aero to respond to emergencies effectively, including public health emergencies, natural and emergency disasters, and search and rescue operations.
With a highly experienced operations team, Swoop Aero is on track to achieving the firm’s goal of providing drone logistics to 100 million people in 2025 and 1 billion people by 2030.