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AAUS Industry Champions Awards 2021 Finalists Announced

Recognition of Australian Unmanned Systems Industry Champions 2021

23 February 2021

AAUS is once again proud to be hosting an Industry Awards night to recognise individuals and organisations that have made a significant contribution to the Australian unmanned systems industry.

This year, over 80 nominations were received for the 5 award categories highlighting the strength of our rapidly developing industry.  Of interest was that over a quarter of these were nominated for the Innovation Award. 

All nominations were high quality and consisted of an impressive list of individuals and organisations.  Our judging panel had the difficult job of selecting finalists for each category.   

Finalists are listed below.

Winners will be announced during the AAUS Gala Dinner that will be held in Canberra on the evening of Wednesday March 10, 2021.  The Gala Dinner is being held in conjunction with the AAUS RPAS in Australian Skies 2021 conference.  Tickets for the Gala Dinner can be purchased via the conference website.


The Leadership Award recognises individuals or organisations that lead the way with advocacy work that strives to improve the commercial and / or technological viability of the unmanned system industry.


  • Dr Terry Martin (Revolution Aero) for many years of dedicated advocacy work particularly representing industry in the development of RPAS policy, regulation, risk analysis and UTM.  
  • Joe McMahon (Suas Rov) for his advocacy work with many regulatory bodies across Australia over the last 3 years advancing the development of aerial spraying licensing and certification for all RPAS industry.
  • Mirragin Unmanned Systems for championing sovereign capability on behalf of the unmanned system industry in Australia.  
  • Queensland Government (Dept of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning) for its vision in spearheading many powerful initiatives since 2007 to support UAS industry growth.

The Innovation Award recognises organisations  that have designed a new product, a new service, a new production or manufacturing process contributing to the advancement of the unmanned systems industry.


  • Philip Rowse (CubePilot) for the development of the CubePilot avionics that has enabled significant growth of Australian and International unmanned system innovation and development.
  • Thales, Telstra, Australian UAV & City of Greater Geelong for the development and demonstration of a robust, safe and secure ecosystem enabling the management of low altitude airspace for manned and unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • Trendspek for the development of a drone data management system enabling 3D digital modelling with analytics, planning and collaboration tools.
  • Innovaero for the development of the FOX Unmanned Aerial System addressing a capability gap between existing Tactical class of UAS and MALE UAS.  The system is capable of VTOL, 11 hours of endurance and has a 40 kg payload capacity.
  • AVCRM and Department 13 have partnered to combine AVCRM’s compliance risk management product with Department 13’s drone detection and identification system.  The resulting product gives clients a complete turnkey solution for operational safety, asset management and situational awareness.
  • Emesent for the development of Hovermap, a versatile autonomy and LiDAR mapping solution enabling the capture of mining data in hazardous and inaccessible areas.  When mounted to a drone, Hovermap provides advanced collision avoidance and autonomous flight technologies to accurately map GPS-denied environments such as underground mines.

The Education & Safety Award recognises individuals or organisations who demonstrate leadership in educating the unmanned systems industry with particular emphasis of developing a safety-focussed culture.


  • Inspector Chris Nicholson (NSW Police Force Aviation Command) for his dedicated work in transforming the NSW RPAS capability into a proactive asset through a diligent education and safety program.
  • Fiona Lake (Rural Drone Academy) for her dedicated work in educating rural residents on the safe and practical use of drones in the performance of agricultural applications.
  • Aviassist for the development of Future Capabilities Workshops enabling organisations to create a positive safety culture; in doing so, becoming more engaged with the regulator and other professional organisations to drive successful aviation outcomes.
  • UAVAIR for their ‘Central Queensland RPAS “Safe Pilot” Program’. The program was developed to produce safety-conscious RPAS pilots through young people in schools. The program involved design, implementation and evaluation of industry-relevant training and work placement program. 
  • UAV Training Australia for the development of an integrated online e-learning system to train, develop and engage RPAS candidates at a scope never seen before in Australia.  Over 1200 RPAS candidates accessed the virtual training platform during the last 12 months.

The Humanitarian Achievement Award recognises individuals or organisations that demonstrate the role unmanned technologies can play in bettering our world.


  • Disaster Relief Australia for its use of Veterans, Volunteers and RPAS for enhanced damage assessments following the Black Summer Fires of 2019/2020.
  • Swoop Aero for its continued work in Malawi using drones for the quick, safe and reliable transportation of essential medical supplies in impressive quantities leading to 150% increase in operational efficiency of the health supply chain.

The NextGen Achievement Award recognises young individuals (under 35 yo) that demonstrate elite capability and leadership in their field within the unmanned systems sector.


  • Abdulghani Mohamed (RMIT University) for his impressive body of research across robotics, aerodynamics, turbulence, biomimetics, sensors, dynamics and control.
  • Mike Monnik (DroneSec) for his role in the development of a drone threat intelligence platform that runs consistently generating weekly intel reports regarding drone security and incident reporting.  Mike has been active in advocacy efforts with Government and law enforcement on cyber security threats associated with the use of drones.
  • Andrew Davies (Taz Drone Solutions) for his leadership within the Tasmanian drone sector in moving the needle for all of industry.  Andrew is a valuable contributor to AAUS working groups and advocacy.
  • Steven Cracknell (Textron Systems Australia) for his dedicated work as an aeronautical engineer leading the development of innovative products for Textron Systems Australia.
  • Mitchell Bannink (University of Adelaide / Airspeeder / OVRL / Qantas) for his ongoing advocacy work towards the advancement of RPAS policy, regulation and safety on behalf of industry.

Award Winners were announced on 10 March 2020 at the AAUS Gala DInner in Canberra

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