Turbo charge for marine technology

The Department of Defence and partners including Flinders University have embarked on a $15 million project that could see swarms of underwater robots detect and clear naval mines ahead of landings.

Flinders University is teaming up with partners including Thales Australia, Australia’s Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre, and the Department of Defence on the five-year project where researchers will design, develop, test and evaluate Autonomous Underwater Vehicle swarms, and Autonomous Surface Vessels, to revolutionise mine clearance.

“This project is one of our largest defence contracts to date,” says Tony Kyriacou, Defence Partnerships Director at Flinders University.

“Congratulations to Karl Sammut who is leading our participation in this project. This is the result of strong engagement with Thales both in Australia and France and represents dedicated efforts for more than two years.”

Four research partners will help deliver the project, with three Sydney universities participating – the University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney, and Western Sydney University.

“The fact that we are the only non-NSW organisation involved in the project illustrates the significance and profile that Karl has developed for Flinders in the area of maritime autonomy,” says Mr Kyriacou.

Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC says the project will harness Australia’s research and innovation capabilities in autonomous systems technologies.
“Developing new systems for underwater mine detection and clearance are vital to protecting Australia’s maritime environment and advancing our interests.

“Key technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, connectivity and cyber security will be vital in developing the capability to autonomously undertake environmental data collection and mine countermeasures missions.

“This will help to create a safer operating environment for Australian Defence Force personnel.”

Other industry partners on the project include Australian businesses Mission Systems and INENI Realtime.

Flinders University is at the frontline of defence-oriented research and development, including through its Centre for Maritime Engineering led by Professor Karl Sammut.

The University’s research excellence in autonomous marine vehicles is grounded in strong industry and academic relationships across continents – and reflected in our extraordinary success in the Nicolas Baudin internships including Flinders students receiving one-third of last year’s national internships.

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