Dries Verstraete
Associate Professor in Aerospace Design and Propulsion, Director Engagement & Impact, School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, University of Sydney


Associate Professor Dries Verstraete graduated with a MSc degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in 2000. He then undertook a Masters in Aerospace Engineering at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. This lead to a research position in the Royal Military Academy of Belgium. In 2004 Dries undertook a part-time PhD in Aeronautical Engineering in the Power and Propulsion Department of Cranfield University. While doing his PhD, Dries moved to the Université Libre de Bruxelles and started teaching aircraft propulsion at the Erasmus Hogeschool Brussel. Upon completion of his PhD, Dries moved to the University of Sydney where he is currently Associate Professor in Aerospace Design and Propulsion in the Aeronautical Engineering Department, and director industry engagement for the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering.

Associate Professor Verstraete’s research addresses integration and optimisation challenges of hybrid-electric propulsion for small unmanned aircraft. Propulsion systems are widely recognised as the Achilles’ heel of unmanned aircraft or drones. The Sydney Propulsion Lab, lead byAssociate Professor Verstraete, focuses on two key areas to advance propulsion technologies for drones, namely hybrid fuel-cell-based propulsion systems and small variable pitch propellers. The lab houses a range of state-of-the-art test facilities to conduct component, scale-model, and system-level tests of electric propulsion hardware at any technology readiness level.

Dries serves as associate editor for the International Journal of Aerospace Engineering. He is an invited technical specialist on the NATO exploratory team on hybrid electric propulsion.





Long-range hydrogen fuel-cell-powered eVTOL drone (MedAero) network for Aged Care and Community Care in regional, rural, and remote Australia.

The introduction of the MedAero service will use advanced technology to better link patients/clients/consumers in any location to primary health care. As a result, this business venture will revolutionise healthcare for 29% (7.5 million) of Australians living in regional, rural, and remote areas to achieve timely access to health services and offer numerous advantages for improved community and aged care health outcomes.

The owner of ASAC Consultancy (the research and development arm) and Wildu Aero (the operations arm) have approached this venture due to her belief in the compassionate humanitarian benefits and the right of all people to equitable health outcomes regardless of their geographical location.
The primary purpose of the service is to provide rapid and efficient health service delivery of prescription medicines, collection of pathology, blood products, antivenom, vaccines, etc. for regional, rural, and remote locations, and in emergency situations. Therefore, achieving timely diagnostics and treatment, reducing response times, saving lives, and improving healthcare accessibility. The service utilises technology to substantially increase links between telehealth, health service providers, and pharmaceutical supplies for timely accessibility for aged and community healthcare patients/clients/consumers.

The highlight of the cutting-edge technology of the eVTOL hydrogen fuel cell drones we are developing will be the capability of flying up to 1,200 km, ensuring reliable and secure operations, and complying with aviation and healthcare regulations.
This service offers faster response times, reliability, and accessibility and reduced dependency on land transport which is often faced with challenges related to difficult terrains, floods, weather conditions, or overcoming geographical barriers. The service is cost-effective with savings of more than 80% in comparison to other forms of transport.

The service will address existing challenges faced by those living in underserved communities, especially First Nations communities, concerning healthcare accessibility, due to long travel times, limited medical infrastructure, and difficulty accessing urgent medical services. The service will align with public values and the cultural needs and sensitivities of First Nations communities.
The eVTOL drone service has potential socioeconomic benefits, such as job creation, skill development, improved overall well-being of communities, and the positive environmental impact of using electric-powered hydrogen drones, reducing carbon emissions, and contributing to the sustainability objectives.

The introduction of the service will extend collaboration between telehealth, businesses, government agencies, and communities. In addition, the service will achieve improved health outcomes for the population living in regional, rural, and remote communities.