A recent South Australian defence industry delegation that travelled to Europe has returned with a deeper understanding of opportunities to advance the state’s expertise in undersea defence and maritime autonomous technologies.
Led by Defence SA, the delegation travelled to the Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) Conference in Rostock, Germany in May.
The largest global event dedicated to the undersea defence industry, the UDT Conference provides a platform to bring stakeholders together to learn, expand networks and explore business opportunities. More than 1500 delegates from around the world congregate for the conference and exhibition to participate in a program designed to equip nations to deal with an increasing diversity of challenges in the domain.
The South Australian delegation was hosted by Defence SA Director Maritime, David Eyre and Defence Innovation Partnership Pathways Manager, Bez Mohammadi. It included representatives from Flinders University and local companies PrioriAnalytica and PMB Defence.
Defence SA Director Maritime David Eyre said the mission provided a valuable opportunity for the group to receive an introduction into what’s happening globally in the undersea defence domain.
“The undersea defence domain is becoming a more complex and challenging space and understanding advancements in areas such as maritime autonomous technologies will be vital for South Australian industry to support our Defence Forces to maintain an operational advantage in the future,” Mr Eyre said.
“We can learn a lot from the experiences of our overseas counterparts in relation to test and evaluation, research and certification systems used for undersea defence technologies.
“Facilitating this mission – which also provided the opportunity to meet with key industry leads from BAE Systems, Forcys, Sonardyne and Nova Systems – is an important way for government to support the expansion of local industry capability that will be needed to underpin future Defence projects.”
The visit also included a briefing on the Digital Ocean Lab, operated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD in Rostock. The facility features a physical underwater testing range for maritime technologies in a real environment under controlled conditions.
From Germany, members of the delegation travelled to Plymouth in the UK to engage with representatives from City College Plymouth and visit Smart Sound Plymouth – a first-of-its-kind proving area that facilitates design, testing and development of innovative marine technologies.
Discussions covered the innovative developments in maritime autonomy and workforce and skills pathways across the maritime, defence and nuclear sectors. It also explored opportunities for potential collaborations in the future.
Managing Director of software technology company PrioriAnaytica, Steven Benn, who was part of the industry contingent who travelled with Defence SA, said the knowledge gained would be extremely valuable in the months ahead.
“The trip to both UDT and SmartSound in Plymouth was of great value offering the chance to confirm and progress existing contacts and potential business and introduce new opportunities,” Mr Benn said.
Adelaide-based PrioriAnalytica use Machine Learning algorithms and eXplainable Artificial Intelligence to build advanced Operational Analytics solutions for the defence, resources, energy and logistics sectors.
“The trip laid the foundations for several potential partnerships and we are pleased to confirm that we will soon be proposing a trial of Priori systems with one of the companies visited in Plymouth.”
South Australia already has real industry and research strengths in undersea sensors, undersea autonomy and machine learning.
Activating local defence innovation in this priority area for Defence is the focus of a new defence research and development funding scheme recently launched by South Australia’s Defence Innovation Partnership (DIP).
The Activator Fund will leverage existing strengths in the domain to support a more rapid transition of technological developments into operational Defence capabilities that will directly benefit the Australian Defence Force.
Up to $1.6 million will be available from the fund for the initial ‘Remote Undersea Surveillance Data Processing, Analysis and Networking’ project, with successful applicants required to provide matching co-contributions that will support larger scale research and development activities.
DIP are currently seeking proposals from consortia led by South Australian universities and industry and involving Department of Defence partners, as well as other national and international partners.
Activator applications are now open and close on 18 August 2023.
Learn more about the Activator Fund.
Image: Professor Karl Sammut (Flinders University), Steven Benn (behind, PrioriAnalytica), Stephen Faulkner (front, PMB Defence), David Eyre and Bez Mohammadi (Defence SA), and Claude Messina (PMB Defence)