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Autonomous mine clearance capability tested in SA

A new project is seeking to enhance detection and clearance of underwater mines close to shore using autonomous technologies that will improve safety for Navy personnel.

The project will design, develop, test and evaluate various teams of micro Autonomous Underwater Vehicle swarms and Autonomous Surface/Subsurface Vessels to provide an autonomous mine clearance capability that operates in the amphibious zone close to shore.

The amphibious zone is often extremely difficult to navigate when searching for underwater mines, due to tides, waves and currents, low visibility and a low communications environment. The technology being developed would seek to supplement high-risk activities undertaken by Navy Clearance Divers.

Funded by the Defence Cooperative Research Centre, Trusted Autonomous Systems, the ‘Mine Counter-Measures in a Day’ project involves teams from Thales Australia, Defence Science Technology Group, Flinders University, University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney, Western Sydney University and Australian SME’s Mission Systems and Ineni Realtime.

A trial held at Christies Beach in Adelaide in late November demonstrated the technologies live to stakeholders for the first time.

Thales Australia’s Chief Technical Officer John Best said technology would provide a significant change in capability to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

‘This project will utilise technology to transform high risk, and labour-intensive activities and accelerate amphibious zone mine clearance,” Mr Best said. “By reducing the time it takes to clear a landing zone, while also gathering and analysing mission critical environmental data, personnel safety will be enhanced as will the gathering of operational intelligence.”

Defence SA Chief Executive Richard Price said the project was a great example of the benefits that collaboration brings.

“Collaboration is vital for innovation and the development of this cutting-edge defence technology is a great example of what can be achieved when universities and industry work closely with Defence to co-design solutions to increasingly complex challenges,” Mr Price said.

“South Australia has a long history of success in defence research and development and this latest demonstration showcases our strength as a critical testbed for defence technologies.”

Learn more about the Mine Counter-Measures in a Day project