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Defence’s first CRC finds a home


The Department of Defence has revealed where its first Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for trusted autonomous systems will be located, as well as its inaugural participating members.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has confirmed the $50 million CRC, being set up under the Next Generation Technologies Fund, will be located in Queensland.


"This announcement is great for the state of Queensland, and clearly proves that our biggest build-up of defence capability in our country’s history is truly a national endeavour," Minister Pyne said.

The centre will focus on how drones, robotics and artificial intelligence can play a key role in Australia's future military.

Defence primes Thales Australia, BAE Systems Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia and Defence Science and Technology Group are among the key participating members, along with universities and research agencies. Boeing Australia and Data61 are also undergoing discussions for their future in the CRC.

The establishment of Defence's first CRC was lead by chair Jim McDowell with a panel of experts that included former Australian chief scientist Ian Chubb, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, the UK Defence Ministry’s Chief Science Adviser Air Vice Marshall (Ret'd) Neil Hart, and former CEO of GD Defence Australia Paul Merrow.



"The Defence CRC establishment is based on a sound formation plan developed by chair Mr Jim McDowell, in collaboration with a panel of independent experienced experts from industry, academia, Defence and the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory," Minister Pyne said.

"I thank the panel for their expert advice in shaping the Defence CRC, which will play a vital role in giving Defence a game-changing capability."

Chairman of the Defence Cooperative Research Centre Jim McDowell said Defence's first CRC is already off to a good start.

"This has been a good start to rapidly form a Defence CRC with a totally novel formation process and to do it on schedule," McDowell said.

"Our focus as we move forward will be industry-led projects with real translation opportunities to move technology rapidly from universities into industry and ultimately into leading edge capability for the Australian Defence Force."

The centre's $50 million funding will be spaced out over seven years.

Defence will establish more CRCs in the coming future.

Defence CRC for trusted autonomous systems project leads and partners:

Maritime domain – littoral operations


Thales Australia


Mission Systems (SME), Flinders University

Other participants

Austal – Biotech Engineering (SME), Ineni Realtime (SME),
Curtin University, University of Western Australia

Fugro LADS Corporation

Ocius (SME) – University of New South Wales

University of Sydney

Queensland Institute of Technology

DST Group


Land domain – networked autonomy


BAE Systems Australia


DST Group, University of Melbourne

Other participants

DefendTex – Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Flinders University, University of Melbourne, University of Adelaide, DST Group

Tectonica – Rheinmetall Defence, University of Melbourne, DST Group

Marathon Targets (SME) – University of Sydney

Simbiant (SME) – My Sky Technologies (SME), DST Group

Queensland Institute of Technology

Deakin University

University of Technology Sydney

University of Melbourne

DST Group


Air-space domain – persistent autonomy


Lockheed Martin Australia


Biarri (SME), Consilium (SME), DST Group, University of Melbourne, University of Adelaide

Other participants

Consunet (SME)

KJR (SME) – Griffith University

University of Adelaide

University of Melbourne

Australian National University

DST Group


Potential project partners and CRC members

Industry:       Saab, Boeing, Insitu Pacific, Northrup Grumman, Acacia, AOS Group.

Universities:  University of South Australia, University of Queensland, Flinders University, University of New South Wales.

Defence’s first CRC finds a home
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