Biomedical Engineering
School of ITEE

Researcher Profile

What is your area of research?

I work in dynamics, control and propulsion of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), specialising in rotorcraft.  This includes topics as diverse as aerial manipulation (picking things up with flying platforms) and disposable UAVs for bushfire fighting. 

What are the major scientific challenges facing your area of research?

Drones have come a long way from experimental vehicles of the early 2000s and the flying toys of the last decade.  The new frontier is in expanding the capabilities of small unmanned rotorcraft to make them truly useful - to perform manual handling tasks, to fly with heavier payloads for longer, to be cheaper and more flexible, to go boldly where no drone has gone before!

Why did you become a robotics engineer?

I wanted to be an engineer from before I could talk.  I used to joke that I always wanted to be an aerospace engineer or a roboticist, because that's where the best toys are.  Then I discovered that flying robots are a thing and finally understood why I was put on this earth.

Who has been/is the biggest influence on your career and why?

Clarence "Kelly" Johnson is my hero and personal saviour.  He won two Colliers Trophies for the incredible U2 and SR-71 spy planes, and is revered for a career stretching from the dawn of flight to the modern age of aviation: the Lockheed Electra flown by Amelia Earhart, the legendary P-38 lightning, the US' first jet fighter, and finally the F-117 stealth fighter.  He showed that - with hard work, talent and principles - you can make the impossible possible.

If you could choose one person to sit next to on a plane, whom would it be?

I have a terrific sales pitch for Elon Musk.

Lecturer

School of Information Technology & Electrical Engineering