TAS – SeaWolf AUV Project, well underway!

Trusted Autonomous Systems are excited that the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) have now publicly acknowledged at IndoPac 22, our existing SeaWolf project with Cellula Robotics as one of three key programs of development for AUV capability!

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Initiated and overseen by Trusted Autonomous Systems, funded by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Warfare Innovation Navy (WIN) Branch, with expertise, hardware and manufacturing from Cellula Robotics, the SeaWolf pilot project will develop a demonstrator 12m Autonomous Underwater Vessel (AUV) and existing technologies by early-2023.  This project has been under discussion with RAN for 12-months and under contract for 6-months. Cellula Robotics have demonstrated experience in the delivery of AUV technologies and are in the final stages of establishing an Australian based entity to further the next stages of this project including Australian-based manufacturing.

The SeaWolf project is engaging with a range of Australian-based experts to deliver a prototype AUV and to harness technology, manufacturing and regulatory expertise to develop future AUV capability for the RAN.  TAS have contracted Cellula Robotics, Mission SystemsOcean Wave ConsultingEast Consulting Services and Cellula Robotics have also engaged a range of expert sub-contractors on this exciting project including the world renown Ron Allum Deepsea Services. Additional sub- contracts are in finals stages of negotiation.

Trusted Autonomous Systems are a Defence Cooperative Research Centre funded through the Next Generation Technologies Fund and are not conduced for profit. Trusted Autonomous Systems also receive funding support from the Queensland Government.

 

Release of the Australian Code of Practice for the Design, Construction, Survey and Operation of Autonomous & Remotely Operated Vessels

By Rachel Horne, Assurance of Autonomy Activity Lead, TAS

Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS) has released the Australian Code of Practice for the Design, Construction, Survey and Operation of Autonomous & Remotely Operated Vessels, Edition 1 (‘Australian Code of Practice’).

The Australian Code of Practice provides a best practice standard tailored for autonomous and remotely operated vessels operating in Australia. It is a voluntary standard, developed in close consultation with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), intended to be used to support assurance, accreditation, and safe operations.

Access the Australian Code of Practice and Guidance Materials via the TAS website.

The development of the Australian Code of Practice was informed by an analysis of existing, publicly available codes and guidelines for autonomous and remotely operated vessels[1],  significant stakeholder engagement, and public consultation.

TAS, supported by Australian Maritime College Search, have also developed a suite of Guidance Materials to support the use of the Australian Code of Practice. These Guidance Materials explain how the Australian Code of Practice fits into the existing Australian maritime regulatory framework, how to use the Code, and what the requirements are for each category of vessel, together with providing examples and suggestions on where to access further information.

TAS encourages owners, operators, surveyors, regulators and other users of the Australian Code of Practice and Guidance Materials to provide feedback to TAS, to help inform future iterations.

Where can I get more information?

To access more information on the Australian Code of Practice, you can:

 

TAS would like to thank all parties who contributed to the development of the Australian Code of Practice, including particularly Maaike Vanderkooi of Vanderkooi Consulting who led the development of the Code on TAS’s behalf, Rob Dickie of Frazer Nash Consultancy who led the COLREGs project on TAS’s behalf, together with his team Marceline Overduin and Andrejs Jaudzems, and Chris White from AMC Search who led delivery of the Guidance Materials, together with his team Reuben Kent, Damien Guihen, and Nick Bonser.

This project received funding support from the Queensland Government through Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS), a Defence Cooperative Research Centre funded through the Commonwealth Next Generation Technologies Fund and the Queensland Government.


[1] UK Code of Practice for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships, the LR Code for Unmanned Marine Systems, and DNV GL’s Autonomous and Remotely-operated Ships Class Guideline

TAS and Participants looking forward to IndoPac 22

As Indo Pacific 2022 commences next Tuesday, Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS) is pleased to announce presentations and two new Centre projects, established in partnership with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Warfare Innovation Navy (WIN) Branch.

TAS Presentations at IndoPac

TAS CEO Professor Jason Scholz will be presenting ‘Accelerating maritime trusted autonomous systems’, 1600 Tuesday 10 May at the International Maritime Conference.

TAS Assurance of Autonomy lead – Maritime, Rachel Horne will be presenting on ‘An Australian code of practice for autonomous and remotely operated vessels’, 0900 Wednesday 11 May at the International Maritime Conference, and ‘Improving the Regulatory Experience for Autonomous and Remotely Operated Vessels: TAS Regulatory Project Overview’, 1255 Wednesday 11 May at Autonomy in the Maritime Domain.

Robert Dickie of Frazer-Nash will be presenting on the TAS Assurance of Autonomy COLREGs project, An enabling framework to support COLREGS compliance for autonomous and remotely operated vessels’, 0930 Wednesday 11 May at the International Maritime Conference.

New Projects!

Ocius – iDrogue

Through disruptive innovation, Warfare Innovation Navy (WIN) Branch enables the Royal Australian Navy to be at the forefront of asymmetric warfighting for joint integrated effects. The iDrogue project, initiated by Trusted Autonomous Systems, led by Ocius Technology, and funded by WIN Branch, was established to develop and demonstrate a novel Autonomous Underwater Vessel (AUV) launch and recovery system. Ocius, a leading Australian innovator, is partnered with the Australian Maritime College and University of New South Wales on this exciting project. This pilot project is being conducted over 12-months, through 2022.

  • The ultimate aim, with further funding, is to develop an intelligent robot based on biomimicry that can launch and recover ‘any AUV, from any platform in virtually any sea state’
  • AUVs are in increasing use by modern navies. The current method of launching and recovering AUVs is undertaken by humans at the sea surface level.
  • This pilot program will exploit advanced robotics and autonomy to undertake functions at calm depth and without human involvement. In the next 6-months the iDrogue will be automated and the design reviewed.

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  • This project contributes to RAN sea superiority with a capability that integrates with current and future fleets and allied capabilities.
  • The graphics on the stand represent human machine teaming and human control.
  • It is an industry led (Ocius) project funded by WIN Branch and overseen through Trusted Autonomous Systems.
  • Ocius partners include AMC Search, UNSW and Southern Ocean Subsea (SOSUB).
  • WIN – Through disruptive innovation, Warfare Innovation Navy (WIN) Branch enables the Royal Australian Navy to be at the forefront of asymmetric warfighting for joint integrated effects.
  • Ocius Technology have developed a range of uncrewed platforms. More on their range is available here.
  • Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS) were established though the Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF) to accelerate autonomous systems development for Defence. The TAS vision is ‘smart, small & many’ and projects cover all domains.

Dr Robert Dane of Ocius Technology will be presenting ‘Persistent autonomous data gathering and monitoring – a future vision for autonomous ocean observations’, 1030, Wednesday 12 May at the International Maritime Conference.

Ocius and a prototype iDrogue are represented with TAS on the Royal Australian Navy Capability – Autonomous Systems stand 3J24. Ocius will also have a presence on additional stands.

Austal – Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial

The Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial led by Austal on behalf of the Royal Australian Navy, Warfare Innovation Navy WIN Branch will establish robotic, automated and autonomous elements on a decommissioned Patrol Boat. This will provide a proof-of-concept demonstrator for optionally crewed or autonomous operation and explore the legal, regulatory pathways and requirements.

Austal are uniquely placed to undertake this project being the original designers and builders of the Armidale-class vessels. Austal has partnered with L3 Harris on the project. This project presents a significant opportunity to inform current and future maritime capability acquisition, and to build sovereign Australian capability in the autonomous maritime platform domain. It will pave the way for further work to achieve sustained and sustainable optimal crewing, to improve safety of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and expose the Naval workforce to these technologies and other elements of the Navy RAS-AI Strategy 2040 including normalising human-machine teaming.

Mr Tim Speer of Austral will be presenting ‘Australian defence opportunities for un-crewed vessels’ 1700 Tuesday 10 May at the International Maritime Conference. Austal are represented at Indo Pac 22 at stand 2H6.

Existing Project

MCM in a Day Thales project underway with TAS

Project participants Thales are also at Indo Pac 22. Thales is partnering with DST Group, Academia (Flinders UniversityUniversity of SydneyUniversity of Technology Sydney and the Western Sydney University) and Australian SMEs (INENI Realtime and Mission Systems) in the development of new autonomous technologies that promise to revolutionise mine clearance in littoral operations. The Mine Counter-Measures ‘MCM in a Day’ project will design, develop, test and evaluate various teams of micro Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) swarms and Autonomous Surface/Subsurface Vessels (ASVs) to deliver coordinated, multi-robot autonomous mine clearance technology to support and assist amphibious zone preparation. This new approach has the potential to support a significant operational step-change to the Royal Australian Navy by removing ADF members from harm’s way and accelerating the speed of mission execution. The work is leverages and benefits from Thales existing experience in the field of autonomous Mine-Counter-Measures systems. You can find Thales at stand 3A6.

Generally

There are a range of other TAS Participants present at IndoPac 22.  TAS staff will be present generally and specifically at the iDrogue display 3J24.

TAS are a Defence Cooperative Research Centre funded through the Commonwealth Next Generation Technologies Fund and also receive funding support from the Queensland Government. You can find out more about TAS by attending our Symposium, ‘Accelerating cross-domain autonomy’, 15 June in Brisbane.

Release of COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework

By Rachel Horne, Assurance of Autonomy Activity Lead, TAS

TAS and Frazer-Nash Consultancy have developed a COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework to make it easier to understand and comply with International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs) when operating autonomous and remotely operated vessels. This Framework is available for standalone use, or as an annex to the new Australian Code of Practice for the Design, Construction, Survey and Operation of Autonomous and Remotely Operated Vessels.

The COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework translates the stated and unstated capabilities described, and the terminology used, in COLREGs into a vocabulary and format that makes sense for autonomous and remotely operated vessels. It is intended to be an enabling framework to:

  • Help vessel designers understand what capabilities COLREGs requires vessels to have;
  • Help operators understand what capabilities COLREGs requires and how mission planning can mitigate or remove the need for solving some of the more complex elements of COLREGs; and
  • Help regulators apply a consistent methodology for assessing the capability of a vessel with regards to COLREGs.

The COLREGs framework

Download the COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework on the TAS website

The intent is that the information gathered using the COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework will be used to inform regulatory approval processes and operational planning.

The COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework is currently presented as a PDF, which is best used printed in A3. It is also being converted to a digital tool in a collaboration between TAS, Frazer-Nash, and Aginic over the coming months.

Using the COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework

The recommended use of the COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework for an operator with a specific vessel and proposed operation in mind is as follows:

  1. Download and print out the COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework in A3 colour
  2. Download and fill out the Design Record Template, to ensure you have documented the capabilities of your vessel
  3. With your vessel particulars and the details of your proposed operation in mind, review the framework document, reading from left to right, and identify:
    1. When each rule in COLREGs applies (i.e. some only apply in specific contexts like when in Narrow Channels)
    2. The capabilities required to comply with each specific rule, broken down into the categories of Sense and Perceive, Decide, and Act (noting that these could be in the vessel, the control centre, or a combination)
    3. Mission constraints that could be implemented if you don’t have the capabilities to comply with a specific rule, to remain in compliance (for example, if you don’t have the capabilities needed to comply with Rule 9 – Narrow Channels, you may plan to avoid narrow channels, and therefore remain in compliance with COLREGs)
    4. The suitable method of compliance for each rule (for example, for Rule 5 – Lookout, the proposed evidence of compliance is Design Checklist and Simulation)
  4. Review your analysis, and prepare for own records a list of applicable rules for your vessel and proposed operation, corresponding required capabilities, any operational limitations that need to be imposed, and the recommended evidence type. You may then wish to provide your filled out Design Record and your analysis against the COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework to AMSA to support your application for exemption and/or certification. You can also review it when conducting operational planning to ensure you remain COLREGs compliant.

Further guidance materials, examples, and an instructional video will be released to support the use of the COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework in the coming months.

Further information

Background information on the project to develop the COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework, including the process the team used, is made available in a Briefing Note prepared by Frazer-Nash.

Next steps

TAS will be working with Frazer-Nash and Aginic to develop a digital version of the COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework. TAS intends to make this digital version available through RAS-GATEWAY, a new online portal for assurance and accreditation information and support for autonomous and remotely operated vessels.

The TAS RAS-Gateway project is creating a digital hub to support the Australian autonomous systems sector, including operators and the testing and evaluation ecosystem. The Gateway will feature new methods, policies, practices, and expertise to support accreditation. It aims to address issues currently experienced by regulators, insurers, and technology developers by, for instance, filling gaps in standards and producing consistent (yet flexible) parameters for safe and trusted operations and improved agility to meet fast-changing technical and social licence needs.

In parallel with this digital development, the COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework will be tested through a trial at the Reefworks testing range in Townsville later in 2022.

TAS welcomes feedback on the COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework to info@tasdcrc.com.au

 

TAS would like to thank all parties who contributed to the development of the COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework, including particularly Rob Dickie, Marceline Overduin and Andrejs Jaudzems of Frazer-Nash Consultancy for their smarts and creativity in identifying the best way to turn an idea into a tangible enabling framework, and then doing the hard analytical, excel, and design work to make it happen.

This project received funding support from the Queensland Government through Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS), a Defence Cooperative Research Centre funded through the Commonwealth Next Generation Technologies Fund and the Queensland Government.

 

 

Results of public consultation on the draft Australian Code of Practice for the Design, Construction, Survey and Operation of Autonomous & Remotely Operated Vessels

By Rachel Horne, Assurance of Autonomy Activity Lead, TAS 

Public consultation occurred on the draft Australian Code of Practice for the Design, Construction, Survey and Operation of Autonomous & Remotely Operated Vessels, (‘Australian Code of Practice’) between 15 November 2021 and 15 December 2021.

Background information on the development of the Australian Code of Practice and the public consultation process is available on the TAS website.

TAS received seven written submissions from a diverse range of stakeholders, include SMEs developing vessels, government departments and Recognised Organisations. TAS thanks all stakeholders for taking the time to review the draft Code and make submissions.

The submissions received were considered, and further advice was sought from third parties assisting with the project where needed, to determine where changes were required to the Code. Examples of the changes made to the Code post-consultation include:

  • the accuracy of sensors is now required to be determined and declared, and their performance is required to be monitored. This will help to ensure that vessels do not operate in conditions where the sensors are not sufficiently effective, or when sensors cease to be sufficiently effective;
  • the control system must now be able to be disabled and isolated to allow for inspection and maintenance activities;
  • for survey-exempt vessels and vessels in survey, the risk assessment of any novel system must now be reviewed by an accredited marine surveyor or Recognised Organisation. A note has been added which provides that review by a competent person may be sufficient for a survey-exempt vessels where the vessel, due to its size, speed and shape, poses a very low risk to the safety of persons and other vessels should a failure occur;
  • for survey-exempt vessels and vessels in survey, tests or trials must now be witnessed by an accredited marine surveyor or Recognised Organisation. A note has been added which provides that a competent person witnesses the tests or trials may be sufficient for a survey-exempt vessels where the vessel, due to its size, speed and shape, poses a very low risk to the safety of persons and other vessels should a failure occur; and
  • improved alignment of the Code with the AMSA Guidance Notice – Small unmanned autonomous vessels, including changing the guidance on the operational speed permitted for survey-exempt vessels from 12 knots to 10 knots.

A Consultation Feedback Report was prepared which summarises the consultation undertaken, the responses received, and the outcomes.

The Consultation Feedback Report is available to download.

Once the necessary changes were made to the Code, the updated draft was provided back to AMSA for further review, before confirming it was ready to be finalised as Edition 1.

TAS welcomes ongoing feedback from users of the Code, which will support further future iterations and improvements.

For further information please contact us at info@tasdcrc.com.au.