Flinders University has partnered with ENSTA Bretagne and Naval Group to kick-start the development of autonomous maritime vehicles as part of the growing relationship between Australia and France.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in Adelaide earlier in the week will be responsible for covering research, development and education, and has been reached between leading research institutions Flinders University in Australia and French Graduate School of Engineering ENSTA Bretagne with global shipbuilder Naval Group.
The MoU was signed by the chairman and chief executive of Naval Group Hervé Guillou, director of ENSTA Bretagne Pascal Pinot, and president and vice-chancellor of Flinders University Professor Colin Stirling at a ceremony attended by the Premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall, and the President of the Regional Council of Brittany, Loïg Chesnais-Girard.
Autonomous maritime vehicle research is a key strength at both Flinders and ENSTA Bretagne, and is an increasingly important area for defence and civilian applications. Researchers at Flinders have established a close research relationship with ENSTA Bretagne and the institutions are pleased to be working collaboratively with Naval Group in a move that will further enhance the alliance between France and Australia.
Professor Stirling said, "I am delighted that Flinders University continues to strengthen its relationship with ENSTA Bretagne and Naval Group in the vital area of autonomous systems and maritime vehicle research."
Students from Flinders and ENSTA Bretagne will also benefit from the agreement thanks to a focus on internships and work experience programs for students across both countries. The collaboration opens the pathway for Flinders students to undertake internships in France as well as French students to spend time in Flinders research laboratories.
"This relationship will enable our students to benefit from exchange opportunities that will expose them to some of the most advanced research in this area and to create opportunities that will strengthen the relationship between South Australia and the Brittany region of France," Professor Stirling added.
Pinot welcomed the announcement, saying, "There is growing global interest in the emerging field of autonomous marine vehicles and we are pleased to be further building our relationship with Flinders University and Naval Group as a historic partner in developing these exciting technologies."
In July 2018, Flinders became the first research institution outside of France invited to join CELADON, an association of leading industry and academic institutions (including ENSTA Bretagne) that operates land-based and marine facilities adjacent to the French Naval Academy in Brest, France. The signing of this MoU provides further opportunities to enhance collaboration with the Brittany region.
Naval Group chief technical officer and innovation director Eric Papin said, "Flinders University and ENSTA Bretagne are partners of choice when it comes to autonomous systems, which are one of the major challenges of future naval systems."
The Flinders Centre for Maritime Engineering, Control and Imaging (CMECI) has significant experience in the design of underwater vehicles, vehicle autonomy systems, mission planning, navigation in GPS-denied environments, robotics, control systems, signal processing, instrumentation and embedded systems.
ENSTA Bretagne is a French multidisciplinary graduate and post-graduate engineering school and research institute, under tutelage of the Ministry of the Armed Forces.
Naval Group is a European leader in naval defence. As an international high-tech company, Naval Group uses its know-how, unique industrial resources and capacity to arrange innovative strategic partnerships to meet its customers’ requirements.