A memorandum of understanding has been signed between Thales and Aquabotix for the research, design and development of undersea drone swarming technology, which will be used for mine clearance and rapid environment assessment.
The collaboration, between Australian academia and SMEs, including the University of Sydney, Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR), Flinders University, Western Sydney University, Mission Systems and ineni Realtime, will focus on Aquabotix's next generation swarming technology called SwarmDiver.
Swarms of micro-sized autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), hosted by larger UAVs or an autonomous surface vehicle (ASV), can be used to complete a variety of missions for advanced forces.
The next generation SwarmDiver will help task the swarm and monitor mission status.
“Thales is delighted to be working with Aquabotix to accelerate the deployment of autonomous systems and solutions in the maritime domain. Thales is a world leader in underwater technology and in Australia Thales has a 30-year history of developing advanced mine countermeasures systems for both the Royal Australian Navy and for export," Dr John Best, chief technical officer, Thales Australia and New Zealand, said.
"The technologies of artificial intelligence, big data, connectivity and cyber security are now reaching the levels of performance that will enable transformational change in the capability to autonomously undertake hydrography and mine countermeasures missions. With the potential to further remove ADF members from harm’s way and accelerate the speed of mission execution, this initiative will contribute to enhanced maritime security and freedom of action for amphibious forces.”
The capability aims to increase the speed and reliability of clearing mined areas in the littoral environment, delivering an advantage by minimising the adverse impact of mines on naval and commercial shipping activities both domestically and abroad.