Victoria’s defence industry advocate Greg Combet is gunning for the state to be the home of the $50 million Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) in Trusted Autonomous Systems.
Speaking to Defence Connect, the former parliamentary secretary for defence procurement announced the state is working hard to be the home of the first CRC established under the Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF).
"There's one other thing we're focusing on that I'm pretty keen for us to secure ... it's nationally focused, but it's out of the Next Generation Technologies Program ... and it's the Cooperative Research Centre Trusted Autonomous Systems," explained Combet.
Combet said the first CRC will look at the future of warfare and how to prepare Australia's defence forces.
"Essentially, it's to say, well, here's the future of warfare. What capabilities is the ADF going to need in autonomous systems that we don't have yet? What's going to give them the leading edge, the military capability edge?" he said.
"Let's all work together to try and deliver that. Develop it. What do we need to do? Well, we need industry in the leadership role, ADF support, and we need to mobilise the research capabilities in our unis and research organisations to do the underpinning work to deliver it."
Victoria's Defence Science Institute, which just secured a further three years of funding from the state government, will also be a partner of Victoria, along with primes and SMEs if the state is successful in its bid for the CRC.
"The primes and the state would also bring some things to the party and that'll provide, I reckon, a great basis if we can secure that for manufacturing off the back of it, advanced manufacturing and IT capabilities, systems capabilities," Combet said.
"That's where the real ... future value in defence industry really is, not in welding as much as the systems that go into all these platforms."
Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said in July the CRC in Trusted Autonomous Systems will deliver game-changing unmanned platforms that ensure reliable and effective co-operation between people and machines during dynamic military operations.
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“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,” the minister 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.
A decision on the location of the CRC in Trusted Autonomous Systems is expected by Christmas this year.