Griffith University mechanical engineering graduate Sebastian Speck has designed a catapult launcher for a fixed wing Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) which will be used to detect illegal hunting and poaching in Africa.

The catapult launcher was uniquely designed and built during an internship to propel the RPAS, also known as a UAV or drone device, called the Antipoaching Scout (APS), owned by company Scout Aerial Media and Surveying.

The company was so impressed by Sebastian’s invention that they have employed him full time to create 30 more by December this year.

Sebastian said the launcher was built to propel the Antipoaching Scout, whose fixed wing configuration resembles a delta wing as opposed to a traditional drone.

Scout Aerial Media and Surveying will use the Antipoaching scout to detect and prevent the illegal killingof rhinoceros and elephants in Africa. In the past decades, poaching has been attributed as one of the main factors of the diminishing population of both rhinoceros and elephants in Africa.

“These devices can cover much larger distances than a traditional drone and I needed to find a way to launch it,” Sebastian said.

“You need a launcher as it controls the safety of the device as launching by hand can be unreliable, risky and completely unadvisable”.

“Once in the sky the device can be piloted remotely, or can follow a predetermined path and set of instructions.”

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Sebastian gained an internship with Scout Aerial through Griffith’s Industry Affiliates Program while studying a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, which he graduated in June 2016.

“Everything that I learnt in my degree was put into practice in this internship,” he said.

“I used this knowledge combined with more specific research into launchers for different devices to design and build mine.

“Being employed by the company is the best result I could have hoped for as I’ve always wanted to do something like this.”

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Mechanical engineering graduate Sebastian Speck with his UAV drone launcher

Mechanical engineering graduate Sebastian Speck with his UAV drone launcher

Sebastian, who is of Ecuadorian and Swiss decent, moved to Australia specifically to study at Griffith University. He now plans to head to Africa in the next few months to demonstrate his launcher as part of the project.

“It had always been a dream of mine to live by the beach and I’d heard really good things about Griffith,” he said.

“I’m so happy I made the choice as it has exceeded all my expectations and Griffith really prepares you well for the industry.”

Scout Aerial Group, Managing Director, Patrick Weeden said he was impressed by Sebastian’s ability to apply his theoretical learning to the real world of design and manufacturing.

“It’s unreal actually, I would have believed he had years of experience in the field based on his ability,” he said.