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Artificial intelligence to enhance Aussie search and rescue capabilities

Air Commodore Darren Goldie set a challenge for the Jericho program office to find a way to use a detector on an aircraft to enhance the ADF’s search and rescue (SAR) capabilities.

While SAR is a critical role, it has largely been done in the same way for a hundred years – using unaided visual search to find objects in the water. 


AI-Search is a Plan Jericho collaboration with the Warfare Innovation Navy Branch, Air Mobility Group’s 35SQN and the University of Tasmania’s Australian Maritime College.

More partners, including DST, have been engaged to contribute to future project phases.

Wing Commander Michael Gan, Plan Jericho’s AI lead, said, "Jericho saw the opportunity to use AI to augment and enhance SAR. The idea is to train a machine learning algorithm and AI sensors to complement existing visual search techniques."

"Jericho enlisted the help of budding AI guru, Lieutenant Harry Hubbert, Warfare Innovation Navy Branch. We gave Harry a challenge – find an orange hull, in a large body of water, using AI, and do it in a month. Harry developed the algorithms in his own time within two weeks."



LEUT Hubbert, Warfare Innovation Navy Branch, added, "It felt pretty amazing to be up in the C-27J gathering the data to train the algorithms that I had developed that week. There is a lot of discussion about AI in Defence – but the sheer processing power of machine learning applied to SAR has the potential to save lives and transform SAR."

Group Captain Jerome Reid, Director Plan Jericho, said, "This is how we need to go after advanced capability for Defence; empower our bright sparks, connect them with mentors and resources, get out of their way and let the magic happen.

"Jericho is running EDGY Air Force, a new Jericho acceleration program, to bring out the talents of our people."

The C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter will complement the Australian Defence Force's existing air mobility fleet. Its capabilities bridge the gap between Army helicopters, such as the CH-47F Chinook, and larger Air Force aircraft, such as the C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster III.

The Spartan will provide airlift of people, equipment and supplies in Australia and our region. It can operate from unsurfaced airstrips, and support humanitarian missions in remote locations.

Both Defence and the Royal Australian Air Force encourage industry input and collaboration. To join EDGY Air Force, submit your idea to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit here.

Up to $5 million in ‘Edge Bounties’ are available for units and squadrons in FY19-20. The next EDGY Air Force Ignite will be held at East Sale on 16-17 October.

Artificial intelligence to enhance Aussie search and rescue capabilities
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