18 Februari 2015
XTek VideoRay submersible ROV (photo : Xtek)
A company describing itself as Canberra's "homeland security specialist" is hoping to sell drone submarines with sonar technology and radiation detectors to the Australian military and federal police.
Tibor Fekete, the head of business development for Symonston-based business XTEK Limited, met with prospective clients on the Kingston Foreshore for a product launch on Tuesday afternoon.
A quick demonstration revealed the drones – designed in the United States by Philadelphia based company VideoRay – could detect large carp in the harbour along with a suspected shopping trolley dumped by late night revellers.
But Mr Fekete stressed the drones would enable security authorities to safely conduct search missions and asset inspections, rather than fishing expeditions.
"We are now the exclusive dealership for law enforcement and defence here in Australia as well as for the commercial sector," he said.
"We just got a contract with the Australian Army and just before Christmas we got a purchase order for $7.7 million worth of ROVs so we always have projects on with defence and law enforcement."
The product launch marks the latest venture for a company with facilities in Sydney and Adelaide, which operated at Fyshwick for 25 years before moving into bigger a office with 21 staff late last year.
In a climate of heightened terrorism alert, XTEK, which imports weapons, ammunition, robots and explosive detectors, has experienced a spike in sales of its products.
But despite success in the defence sector, Mr Fekete said he would like to see drones used by commercial entities with interest already shown by Icon Water.
"This technology is too good to hide away in that defence market space," he said.
VideoRay's Philadelphia-based government and military sales director Mark Fleming said there was a huge opportunity for the underwater drones in Australia, which could be used for a range of projects.
"You guys are infamous for your crocodiles and your sharks and a lot of times you can up an ROV in and get pictures and videos and reduce the hazard times for divers in the water."
"[The drones] can be used for inspections of oil and gas equipment, military applications such as mine identification and force protections, it is used for border protection by coast guards as it will attach onto the bottom of ships."
Mr Fekete said he had been familiar with VideoRay – the largest RUV supplier in the world – for more than ten years and was confident they would establish "a long lasting partnership"
"We started in 1978 in unmanned vehicles or ground robots for the bomb disposal trade for law enforcement and defence and about ten years ago we started representing RUVs before everyone knew what drones were," he said.
"The one bit that we have always been missing in our unmanned systems – we've had land and we've had air – is that sea component so VideoRay is that last missing piece of the jigsaw."