Twenty-five representatives from across Defence industry, the Royal Australian Navy, Royal New Zealand Navy, CSIRO, and Australian Maritime College (AMC) have wrapped up Australia’s premier Autonomous Maritime Systems technology showcase Winterfest 2023 at the AMC in Tasmania.
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Industry partners include Jaia Robotics, Forcys, and Mission Systems Australia working with Defence and government partners where they collaborated in various exercises that put both above and below water autonomous technologies through their paces.
The exercises were aimed at bringing participants together to learn from each other to improve individual and collective capabilities.
During Winterfest 23 participants completed a number of different activities or exercises, these included the completion of Rapid Environmental Assessments (REA) and object detection using both Uncrewed Surface Vessels (USVs) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs).
As part of the exercises, AMC, RAN, RNZN and industry partners also progressed trials around collaboration between USVs and AUVs in the conduct of these activities. The week concluded with a combined session reviewing vehicle performance data and interrogation recorded log files to determine how well the autonomous systems performed.
This process which AMC calls Vehicle Performance Analysis (VPA) forms a fundamental part of the USV and AUV training that we provide to the Royal Australian Navy. Only through confirming the performance of the autonomous vessel or vehicle can you ‘trust’ the accuracy of the sonar and other sensor data collected by the robots.
For the first time, Winterfest participants were able to take advantage of AMC’s recently approved AMS-TEC 1 regulatory sandbox, allowing for the operation of autonomous technologies under AMC’s Safety Management Systems without the need for operating permits from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
AMC’s collaboration with the RNZN in the operation of both their MANTAS T12 ASV and REMUS 300 AUVs allowed operators from both sides to share their operating procedures, launch and recovery techniques, and most importantly, the value of post-mission analysis and vehicle performance analysis.
Winterfest 2023 will be followed by the inaugural International Conference on Maritime Autonomy and Remote Navigation (ICMAR Nav), commencing on the 27th of November at the AMC, where around 100 attendees will be presented the opportunity to listen to presentations from key industry leaders and discuss the future of maritime autonomy.
As Navy's preferred training provider, participants also discussed education and training support to enhance the adoption and use of Autonomous Maritime Systems (AMS) as part of both Winterfest and ICMER Nav.
Based off this the AMC has developed the nationally accredited Certificate III in Autonomous Maritime Systems, this certificate covers both AUV and USV operations and technical aspects which will be available to Defence, the maritime industry and private individuals through the AMC from early 2024.
This will see Australia become the first country in the world to offer nationally accredited vocational training on AUVs and USVs.