Mathew Herbert (pictured below) earned his wings as a pilot in Australia as a teenager. His love of technology eventually led him to experiment with RC-controlled aircraft and later on unpiloted aerial vehicles (UAVs). The idea for Victorian UAS Training (VUAST) came to him during a conversation with a friend one afternoon about what was impeding growth of the UAV industry in Australia. Realizing that training was holding up UAV innovation, Matthew decided to form VUAST.
Up until recently, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in Australia had made commercial operation of UAVs very challenging due to restrictive regulations, much the same as we currently have in the U.S. under the FAA. Luckily, CASA saw massive opportunities for market expansion in this space and passed liberal regulations that permit commercial usage of UAVs with proper training and licensing. That’s where VUAST comes in.
“There’s plenty of demand, but there’s still a bottleneck around certification,” said Matthew. “With minimal effort, we have already lined up 15 students who are eager to start training. We’re just waiting for CASA to approve our Operation Certificate to conduct certified UAV training facility.”
Every day, Matthew hears about new potential applications for UAVs. “Some of the use cases are in agriculture, but we’re also seeing people who want to use UAVs for forestry and emergency services, like search and rescue, as well as for photography,” said Matthew. “UAVs are ideal for dangerous jobs. The scope of the UAV industry is just amazing, and that’s what makes the VUAST team so excited about it.”
In terms of the competitive landscape, Matthew is enthusiastic about the opportunity to scale and operate their training facilities throughout Australia. “There are currently four schools that are set up to train and certify UAV pilots. Out of those, three will only train on their proprietary systems on the condition that you buy them, while the other is part of a university that only trains on fixed-wing aircraft. We see a massive gap in the existing market, and we look forward to stepping in.”
Committed to enabling open innovation, VUAST integrates 3D Robotics’ autopilots into all of their training platforms and programs. “We currently use 3D Robotics’ APM 2.6, though we will be shifting to the new Pixhawk shortly. We intend to use this open platform for training new UAV operators looking to get into the industry safely and legally. This in turn will allow the industry to grow and inspire innovation for everyone involved in the industry.”
For more information, check out VUAST online, and stay tuned for further updates.