Australia to invest $15 million for autonomous mine clearance project

Image Source: Thales Australia

New autonomous technologies will revolutionise mine clearance capability in operations close to shore through a new five-year, $15 million research and development project, Thales Australia announced.

The project is part of a new partnership between Defence, Australia’s Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre (TAS DCRC) and Thales Australia.

Researchers will design, develop, test and evaluate various teams of micro Autonomous Underwater Vehicle swarms and Autonomous Surface Vessels, to develop new systems for underwater mine detection and clearance.

Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the project will harness Australian research and innovation capabilities in autonomous systems technologies.

“As announced in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, developing new systems for underwater mine detection and clearance are vital to protecting Australia’s maritime environment and advancing our interests,” Minister Reynolds said.

“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.”

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said Australian businesses will play a vital role in the TAS DCRC project.

“Our local business partners will be part of the team designing and developing a communication, simulation and training solution for the new autonomous technologies,” Minister Price said.

“We are delighted to be working with the TAS DCRC, Thales, and Australian businesses Mission Systems and INENI Realtime.

“This will help us accelerate the development and deployment of autonomous systems and solutions in the area of mine counter measures.”

Research partners include Flinders University, the University of Sydney, the University of Technology Sydney and Western Sydney University who will design, develop, test and evaluate various platforms.