Accelerating cross-domain autonomy – 15 June 2022


Speaker bios and abstracts

Speaker bios and abstracts will be added on an ongoing basis in the lead up to the Symposium.

Accelerating Cross-Domain Autonomy

Prof Jason Scholz

Trusted Autonomous Systems CEO

Jason is the Chief Executive Officer at Trusted Autonomous Systems and contributes research leadership in the Decision Sciences. His formal background is in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (Bachelors Degree and PhD). Jason has over 35 years’ experience in AI and decision-making covering all areas of Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I) supporting many Defence projects and programs.

Jason was Exchange Scientist with the US Air Force Research Lab in New York state. He was research leader for the Vital Planning and Analysis (VIPA) system which saved Defence well over $120m and is in operational use. Prior to commencing with Trusted Autonomous Systems, he was responsible to the Chief Defence Scientist for the Strategic Research Initiative in trusted autonomous systems, and to the five-eyes community as chair of the Autonomy Strategic Challenge which culminated in Autonomous Warrior 18, the largest five eyes trial of autonomous systems in air, land, and sea environments conducted to date. Jason is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a tenured Innovation Professor with RMIT University.

Jason is passionate about building sovereign capability for the Nation, and ensuring the high-impact research, development, and innovation of the Centre transitions for operational use by the ADF.  In 2020, Jason was awarded the Australian Naval Institute Mc Neil Prize presented annually to “…an individual from Australian industry and academia who has made an outstanding contribution to the capabilities of the Royal Australian Navy.”


Commodore Michael Turner

Director General Force Integration, VCDF Group

Commodore Turner joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1989, graduating from the Australian Defence Force Academy in 1992 with an Electrical Engineering Degree. He conducted a number of sea postings in PERTH Class Destroyers and ANZAC Class Frigates, as a Seaman Officer and a Weapons Electrical Engineering Officer, including Command of the ANZAC Class Frigate HMAS Warramunga. After command, Commodore Turner was the capability support manager for the ANZAC Class Frigate, before becoming the Surface Combatant Group Capability Manager’s Representative responsible for the ADELAIDE and ANZAC Class Frigates and HOBART Class Destroyers.


RADM (Ret) Simon Cullen

Rear Admiral Simon Cullen AM CSC, RAN (Retired) Simon Cullen retired from the Royal Australian Navy after a 38-year career in September 2014. His career highlights included command at sea and ashore, extensive operational service and appointments to key senior military positions in the United States. During his military career Simon was made a Member of the Order of Australia and awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross and two United States Legions of Merit. Since leaving the Navy, Simon’s focus has remained on defence and national security issues. Simon is a Strategic Defence Advisor to the Government of Queensland, seeking to grow defence industry within the State. Through this work he regularly interacts with the federal government, defence and navy. In addition, Simon undertakes defence consultancy work with small and medium sized companies to help them work with Defence and is active in the not-for-profit and charity sectors. Simon resides in Canberra.

Rachel Horne

TAS Director of Autonomy Accreditation – Maritime, Trusted Autonomous Systems

Rachel Horne is the Assurance of Autonomy Activity Lead at Trusted Autonomous Systems. Rachel joined TAS from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, where she spent the last eight years in legal, regulatory, and policy teams providing advice and managing projects aimed at improving the domestic regulatory framework. Rachel is a subject matter expert on the domestic regulation of remotely operated and autonomous vessels and is invested in working to mature the assurance and accreditation frameworks available to better facilitate the safe and efficient update of autonomous technologies. The benefits this technology will bring from a safety, environmental, and efficiency perspective make this an important and timely undertaking. She was previously a solicitor, working for both commercial law firms and Government. As a solicitor, Rachel specialised in commercial law, property law, and maritime law in an international and domestic context.

Talk title: Supporting the Use of Autonomous Systems in the Maritime Domain – TAS Regulatory Initiatives

Autonomous technology offers significant benefits in the maritime domain, and significant Defence funding is accelerating development. However, regulatory barriers are impeding development and uptake of this technology, potentially jeopardising Australia’s capacity to realise the full benefits this technology offers. TAS is implementing innovative, impactful initiatives to smooth the assurance and accreditation path, and to build the legal, ethical and regulatory infrastructure needed to support the use of this technology into the future. Initiatives like RAS GATEWAY will support the Australian autonomous systems ecosystem, including in relation to the development and use of cross-domain applications of autonomy.


Dr Simon Ng

Chief Engineer, Trusted Autonomous Systems

Simon is Chief Engineer at TAS. Graduating from Monash University with a PhD in 1998,  he completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at CSIRO before joining DSTG, where he developed techniques for military operations experimentation, and applied systems methods to surveillance and response, space operations and autonomous aerial systems. He was previously DSTG Group Leader for the Joint Systems Analysis and Aerial Autonomous Systems Groups, and Associate Director of the Defence Science Institute. He is Australia’s National Lead on The Technical Cooperation Program Technical Panel “UAS Integration into the Battlespace”, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  

Colonel Robin Smith OBE

Director RICO, Australian Army

Colonel Robin Smith is the inaugural Director of the Army’s Robotic & Autonomous Systems Implementation & Coordination Office (RICO) within Future Land Warfare Branch of the Australian Army HQ. RICO leads concept development around emerging and disruptive technology, including autonomy and AI, Quantum Technologies and alternative power and energy. He has overseen Army’s exploration of autonomous systems since 2017 after he authored the Australian Army Robotic and Autonomous Systems Strategy. He is a logistician by background and served for over 30 years in the British Army before transferring to the Australian Army. He has commanded at all levels up to and including Regimental level and deployed overseas a number of times including to Afghanstan, Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland. In 2012 he was awarded OBE and more recently a Conspicuous Service Cross. He has a background in Electronic Engineering and has fulfilled a number of roles in the Joint logistics domain at the tactical and operational levels.

Stephen Bornstein

Managing Director, Athena AI

Stephen Bornstein is the managing director of Cyborg Dynamics Engineering and CEO of spin out company Athena Artificial Intelligence. The companies collectively employ 25 people in RASAI engineering roles developing sovereign capability for the Australian defence force. Stephen has a degree in Aerospace engineering, is a commissioned Army reserves infantry officer and the former Australian young engineer of the year. Before founding Cyborg he worked in various roles in industry at BAE Systems, Rocket Lab and Airbus Helicopters where he delivered capability across the aerospace / defence domains.

Talk title: Perspective of a small-to-medium-enterprise CEO

Stephen’s presentation will discuss the TAS project, as well as how following on to ADF contracts through TAS and other mechanisms has enabled Stephen’s companies to grow from 3 FTE to 25 FTE in under 3 years. The presentation will showcase how the original Defence project effectively translated university research into defence capability, supported the companies other platform developments indirectly, bought new innovative companies into Athena’s consortium, which now directly and indirectly employs 57 employees in high tech roles. Some topics discussed will be how university to industry transition was managed, how Defence stakeholders have been engaged throughout the project, how follow on projects have been enabled and lessons learned throughout the 3 years.

Julia O’Callaghan

Director University Engagement / CRC Programs – DefendTex

Julia’s extensive background in the education sector is the driving force behind her ability to promote effective collaborative engagement between industry, academia and defence. Her experience in working for Victoria’s Department of Education in senior leadership roles across many schools highlighted the importance of seamless transition between sectors where she developed governance structures to support this. Since moving to DefendTex in 2016, Julia’s role as the Director of University Engagement and CRC Programs, has grown the company’s academic partnerships to 32 Universities, of which she is the Director of four Co-Operative Research Centre Projects and two Defence CRCs for Trusted Autonomous Systems.

Air & Space

Wing Commander Michael Gan

Deputy Director Artificial Intelligence – Air Force
Jericho Disruptive Innovation

Wing Commander Gan is the Air Force Headquarters lead on Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs in Jericho Disruptive Innovation, the Royal Australian Air Force’s 5th generation transformation program. In this role he is responsible for AI programs within Jericho Disruptive Innovation as well as developing Air Force’s AI enterprise. His priorities for AI in Air Force include education, ethics and AI assurance.

Talk title: Autonomy and Joint Warfighting: not just battle bots and computer vision

For many observers, two things immediately come to mind when discussing the topic of military applications of autonomy and AI:  autonomous vehicles and use of computer vision for targeting and intelligence. The applications of autonomy and AI extend far beyond these horizons, however, and Air Force and Defence must be able to comprehend and engage all potential uses of the technology to succeed across the spectrum of conflict. In this presentation, WGCDR Gan will explore the applications of autonomy and AI across the joint warfighting functions in all domains, highlighting key technical and considerations for the TASCRC and Defence. WGCDR Gan will also provide a brief overview of the Air Force Jericho Disruptive Innovation program.

Prof. Andy Koronios, co-presenting with SmartSatCRC CRO Dr Carl Seubert

CEO & Managing Director, SmartSat CRC

Andy Koronios is the CEO of the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), a consortium of industry and research organisations developing game changing satellite technologies to catapult Australia into the global space economy. Andy has previously held the positions of Dean: Industry & Enterprise and Head of the School of Information Technology & Mathematical Sciences at the University of South Australia. Andy holds academic qualifications in Electrical Engineering, Computing and education as well as a PhD from the University of Queensland. He has extensive experience in both commercial and academic environments and his research areas include data quality, information management & governance, data analytics and the strategic exploitation of information. Andy has worked both as a consultant as well as a professional speaker on IT issues in Australia and South East Asia and has over thirty years’ experience in the academic environment. He is a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society, a Founding Fellow of the International Institute of Engineering Asset Management, a Distinguished Speaker of the ACM and was conferred as an Emeritus Professor at UniSA in 2021.

Talk title: SmartSat’s Pursuit for Intelligent, Autonomous and Cooperative Small Satellite Systems

Like most sectors of the economy, Artificial Intelligence is increasingly playing a key role in space. The miniaturisation of electronics and the dramatic reduction in the cost of launch is now enabling small companies and even start-ups to access space and develop space-based applications. The SmartSat CRC was established to leverage the opportunities offered by space particularly in applying AI techniques in areas of advanced communications and earth observation and in building intelligent, autonomous, and cooperative satellite constellations. This presentation will outline the plans, activities and achievements of SmartSat and explore the potential of collaboration with the TAS research agenda.

Dr Jennifer Palmer

Director Technology Program, Trusted Autonomous Systems

Since early 2022, Dr Jennifer Palmer has been the Director – Technology Program for the Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS) Defence Cooperative Research Centre, where her focus is on technologies supporting ADF land forces. Prior to that, she spent 15 years working in the field of aerial autonomy at the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) in Melbourne, Australia. Dr Palmer’s research focussed on, amongst other things, hybrid power for small unmanned aircraft, flapping flight, autonomous systems for urban operations, and swarming. Dr Palmer has collaborated with a wide variety of national and international experts in autonomous-system technologies and, in her most recent role at DSTG, oversaw DSTG innovation programs and promoted innovation culture and collaboration across the Department of Defence. Dr Palmer holds a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, along with a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering and a Master of Science in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.

Australia’s Future Stratospheric Capability

Flight Lieutenant Mahaboob Mallik

Augmented Aviation Asset Intelligence Lead, Australian Department of Defence

Talk title: Industry 4.0 technologies within Defence

Flight Lieutenant Mallik commenced his career in Defence through Officer Training School in 2014 as an Electrical Engineer. As a FLGOFF, Mallik posted to CISSO in Canberra and then to S&CSPO in Williamtown where he provided engineering services in various capabilities. On promotion, FLTLT Mallik was posted to the ATC tower in Williamtown as the Maintenance Commander. In 2020, FLTLT Mallik posted into CASG NX, then known as Team Vulcan, as a Product owner and went on to got appointed to A3I lead. FLTLT Mallik is passionate about cars and enjoys delving in data science. He is married to Alison with whom he shares 3 daughters; Chelsea, Eliza and Amira.


Air Commodore Jason Begley

Director General Joint C4

Air Commodore Begley joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a Navigator in 1991. Since completing his training and conversion onto the P-3C Orion family of surveillance platforms, he has enjoyed a wide range of operational assignments as a Tactical Coordinator and Electronic Warfare Mission Coordinator, with deployments spanning from the Middle East region to the Indo-Pacific. He has fulfilled a range of command and staff positions, including Commanding Officer of Number 10 Squadron, Director of Joint Effects at Headquarters Joint Operations Command, and Director of the Air and Space Power Centre. In his current role as Director General Joint Command, Control, Communications and Computers, he also oversees the Defence Artificial Intelligence Centre.

Dr Anthony Szabo

Information Warfare STaR Shot Leader

Talk title: Autonomy and the Information Warfare STaR Shot

Defence Science and Technology GroupFrom 1 July 2022, Dr Szabo will be the Chief of Maritime Division at the Defence Science and Technology Group, with responsibility for delivering the Maritime Domain Innovation, Science and Technology program. Immediately prior to this role, he was the Information Warfare STaR Shot Leader focused on developing and delivering new integrated information warfare capabilities for Defence so that it can operate in contested information environments. Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence are critical to this endeavour.

Kuba Kabacinski

Executive Chairman, Consunet Pty Ltd

Kuba Kabacinski has over 20 years of Defence industry experience in technology innovation, capability delivery and corporate leadership. His technical background is focused on distributed systems, advanced software, and Electronic Warfare (EW) sensors and effectors. Kuba is the founder and Executive Chairman of Consunet Pty Ltd, a medium sized business with two decades of market experience delivering cyber and spectrum security technology. He is also a co-founder and Chairman of RFTEQ Pty Ltd, a maturing start-up focused on EW hardware systems.

Common Control

Dr Michael Crump

Principal Technologist – Trusted Autonomy / Technology Delivery Manager – Common Autonomy / Red Ochre Labs – BAE Systems Australia / Air Sector Licensed Technologist & Cluster Lead – Robotics and Autonomy

Dr Michael Crump has been working on autonomous and robotics systems for over two decades within BAE Systems Australia. He has held leading technical roles within autonomy programmes such as Nulka, the M113 OCCV and the Ghost-Bat UAV. In his current role, he provides technical support for all BAE Australian autonomy programmes and also has a strong presence within BAE Systems global autonomy community, leading the autonomy technology stream for BAE Systems Air Sector in the global market.

Talk title: An Australian industry perspective on Common Autonomy

Robotic and autonomous systems are increasingly important and present as part of our military capability.  Rapid growth in adjacent civilian industries has led to accelerated development over the past decade.  What is evident is that sovereign capability for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is necessary. This capability should offer elements of commonality across domains and platforms, through modularity, scalability and interoperability with allies.   A common approach (for both on-vehicle and off-vehicle autonomy architectures) to development and deployment offers significant advantages to the ADF and Australian industry.  This session will present an Australian-centric approach to this challenge, incorporating open industry standards and best practice methods in this space.

Group Leader – Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group, Data 61, CSIRO

Navinda leads the 90-person Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO. He also led the CSIRO Data61 DARPA Subterranean Challenge team that won the US$1million second place prize at the finals of this event in September 2021. Navinda is a senior member of the IEEE, former Chair of the IEEE Queensland joint chapter for Control Systems/Robotics and Automation Societies and a Fellow of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at both Queensland University of Technology and University of Queensland.

Talk title: Team CSIRO Data61 at the DARPA Subterranean Challenge

I will describe the component technologies that were developed in this 3yr long A$14M project that enabled the CSIRO Data61 team to beat formidable competition from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Melon University to tie for the top score in the final event of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge. Our competitive advantages as well as lessons learnt in this project will be discussed.

Commences 1700

Dinner 1800-2000


Departure 2100