Sydney-based Ocius Technology has confirmed a collaborative partnership with Sentient Vision Systems at the 2019 Defence Innovation Hub Annual Industry Conference in Canberra to combine optical object detection onto the BlueBottle unmanned surface vessel (USV).
Both companies have been individually recognised for their autonomous solution capabilities and awarded separate multimillion-dollar contracts by the Australian government’s Defence Innovation Hub in November 2018 to further enhance those capabilities.
Now, through natural collaboration, they are working together to combine them.
Sentient Vision is the only Australian provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance solutions that has been an integral part of every Australian unmanned aerial system program to date.
The inclusion of Sentient Vision’s ViDAR payload further enhances the Ocius Technology autonomous BlueBottle USV platform’s persistent monitoring and surveillance capability.
This combined sovereign Australian solution of Ocius’ Bluebottle’s cutting-edge, patented technology and naturally inspired design and Sentient’s proven maritime capability is a fantastic example of the smart systems for which Australia is renowned.
Robert Dane, CEO of Ocius Technology, stressed the importance of such a capability, saying, "Australia is responsible for 11 per cent of the world’s oceans and has only 0.3 per cent of the world’s population.
"We are committed to providing a capable, autonomous, persistent wide-area maritime surveillance system for our nation. BlueBottles can carry out maritime surveillance of Australia’s vast coastline at disruptively low cost, with no one in harm’s way and freeing up the Navy and Border Force fleets for other tasks."
ViDAR, the world’s first optical radar, has changed the outcome for the detection of small and difficult to locate objects at sea since its launch in 2016. ViDAR can conduct persistent wide area searches, autonomously detecting small objects on the ocean’s surface, from a very small size, weight and power optical sensor on manned and unmanned platforms.
In November 2018, BlueBottle USV Bruce participated in the Autonomous Warrior War games in Jervis Bay. Due to extreme weather Bruce was often the only USV operating and its command and control (C2) system was used to control a Navy WAMV catamaran and two DSTG UUVs.
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Damien Tyrrell, director of business development at Sentient Vision Systems, welcomed the announcement of collaboration: "Sentient is proud of our continued close collaboration with the Australian government.
"From our origins in the Defence Science and Technology Group’s Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) program, through Defence Innovation Hub contracts, to our proud history of active deployments in support of the Australian Defence Force, we see the inclusion of our wide area motion imagery payload as a part of the BlueBottle USVs as a reinforcement of Australian leadership in advanced autonomous systems."
Ocius successfully demonstrated the ability of an 18-foot (5.5-metre) BlueBottle USVs to carry 300 kilograms of sensors including deploying advanced Thales sonar arrays from Ocius’ patented keel winch to varying depths, detecting passing vessels and communicating real-time results.
In June, Ocius completed its second Defence contract with the Defence Innovation Hub with six weeks of sea trials ‘over the horizon’ off the NSW coast, working with Navy, DST Group, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and UNSW - demonstrating an intelligent C2 network of persistent USVs.
ViDAR is deployed with the Australian Navy, AMSA, the US Coast Guard and the US State Department, and has been lauded as fundamentally changing the success rate and way of conducting operations for broad area maritime surveillance.