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Elbit Systems of Australia’s Centre of Excellence, RMIT partner to protect Australians from natural disaster

The pair have teamed up to deliver uncrewed technologies that protect lives during natural disasters and emergency scenarios.

The pair have teamed up to deliver uncrewed technologies that protect lives during natural disasters and emergency scenarios.

Announced at the Elbit Systems of Australia (ELSA) Centre of Excellence open day in Melbourne on the 6th of June, the two-year partnership will see the pair carry out two joint research projects on the use of drones during natural disasters and emergency situations.

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Major General (Ret’d) Paul McLachlan AO, CSC, ELSA managing director, welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with RMIT, expecting that the partnership will deliver cutting-edge research that keeps Australians safe.

“Our partnership with RMIT University demonstrates that we are determined to create solutions to deal with the complex problems that emergency management organisations face during natural disasters,” McLachlan said. 

“The projects will research how to use drones to count the number of people in designated evacuation zones, then to co-ordinate and communicate the most efficient evacuation routes to everyone in the zone, as well as monitoring the area to ensure that everyone has been accounted for.”

The use of drone technology during national disasters is expected to address key recommendations laid out within the October 2020 Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, noting that “effective national coordination will be a critical capability in managing natural disasters on a national scale or with national consequences. Arrangements need to be clear, robust and accountable”.

“It is rare that an emergency management organisation has access to research and development money to spend as most funding goes to operations that is spent – and quite rightly on appliances and people,” McLachlan continued.

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McLachlan has brought unique insight into the project from his time in the ADF, having served as a commander of the Operation Queensland Flood Assist taskforce.

“Our vision is to create an opportunity to collaborate and co-develop innovative technology that would make their jobs easier and better and that’s what this partnership with RMIT signifies today,” he continued.

“As we continue our enhancement of ELSA as an Australian subsidiary, collaboration and diversification with industry partners is a top priority.”

With research scheduled to begin later in the year, RMIT’s Professor John Thangarajah, director of Centre for Industrial AI Research & Innovation, welcomed the opportunity to partner with the ELSA team.

“RMIT is proud to partner with ELSA’s Centre of Excellence for the research projects in which we are determined to break new ground for emergency services and government agencies to ensure the safety of those who are caught in distressing circumstances that sadly we are all becoming familiar with after recent fires and floods,” Professor Thangarajah said.

The Centre of Excellence is a joint partnership between ELSA and the Victorian government.

[Related: Elbit Systems, Rheinmetall team up for Canadian defence project]

Elbit Systems of Australia’s Centre of Excellence, RMIT partner to protect Australians from natural disaster
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