The Department of Defence has delved into researching ‘Trusted Autonomous Systems’ (aka, robots), as part of the Turnbull government’s $50 million investment into launching the Defence Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).
The Defence CRC is a collaborative program that brings together academia, publicly funded research agencies, industry (particularly small to medium enterprises) to create an interlocking research and innovation capability that is focused on driving a Defence outcome.
It is a federal government initiative of the Next Generation Technologies Fund, which complements the Defence Innovation Hub as the two core initiatives of the new Defence Innovation System outlined in the Government’s Defence Industry Policy Statement.
These two signature innovation research and development programs, together with the Centre for Defence Industry Capability, deliver on the government‘s $1.6 billion commitment to grow Australia’s defence industry and innovation sector.
Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne said the first Defence CRC will focus on Trusted Autonomous Systems to deliver ‘game-changing’ unmanned platforms that ensure reliable and effective cooperation between people and machines during dynamic military operations.
“Existing autonomous and robotic systems that operate in the manufacturing and mining sector are effective in controlled environments but not suitable for the uncertain situations in which Defence operates,” Mr Pyne said.
“To be effective, Defence needs autonomous systems to be highly trusted, robust and resilient and this initiative will bring together the best researchers from industry and universities to develop the intelligent military platforms of the future.”
The CRC for Trusted Autonomous Systems will receive an annual funding of $8 million with a maximum of $50 million over a seven year period.
“I am also pleased to announce that the CRC will be chaired by Mr Jim McDowell, an esteemed businessman who has had an extensive career in the defence industry, and most recently at the University of South Australia,” Mr Pyne said.
“As Chair, Mr McDowell will be responsible for leading the development of the research program and business plan and work with industry on transitioning the research results into capability outcomes.”
This is the first of several CRCs that the government is announcing with further CRCs will be established in the near future on projects also aligned with the priorities in the Next Generation Technologies Fund.
Defence will be a member of each CRC along with universities, research agencies and industry and participating members will be selected on the basis of their research excellence and technology expertise.
“The CRC environment offers excellent synergies for Defence, industry and universities to collaborate closely on Defence innovation,” Minister Pyne said.