The defence contractor is set to leverage government funding to develop autonomous vehicle technology with 5G capability.
The Commonwealth government has awarded a grant to Rheinmetall Defence Australia under its 5G Innovation Initiative, aimed at supporting the testing and development of 5G uses, applications, services and products.
Rheinmetall has confirmed the grant would help fund its Advanced Firefighting Concept (AFC) program, focused on developing autonomous vehicle technology with 5G and drone-based communication relay systems.
The AFC, developed in response to the 2019-20 bushfires and modelled on the German Army MARDER platform, aims to reduce the risk to frontline firefighters.
“This ex-military vehicle has been transformed into a firefighting vehicle capable of traversing dangerous terrains to support rescue, path clearing and firefighting missions over distances in excess of 100 kilometres,” the company’s managing director, Gary Stewart, said.
Rheinmetall will work alongside telecommunications giant Telstra to use an uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of creating a communications relay device to establish a 5G network to the remote firefighting vehicle.
“Rheinmetall is pleased to be partnering with Telstra and is looking forward to commencing tests at MILVEHCOE, our state-of-the-art facility in south-east Queensland,” Stewart added.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia has invested over $10 million into advanced autonomous systems research and development, alongside the CSIRO, DSTG, RMIT University and the Queensland University of Technology.
This announcement comes just weeks after Rheinmetall Defence Australia was shortlisted for the LAND 125 Phase 4 project.
Defence is seeking an industry partner to provide prime vendor services for product acquisition, integration and support to help deliver an Integrated Soldier System (ISS) for the Australian Army.
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The ISS is expected to embed all elements and subsystems used, worn or carried by soldiers in any operational context or environment for up to 72 hours without resupply.
The prime has invited industry stakeholders to register their interest via its RDA Supplier Portal.
News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media
Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.