Austal welcome Greenroom Robotics to the TAS-WIN Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial

Austal Australia  announce  Greenroom Robotics has joined the Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial, underway for Trusted Autonomous Systems and the Royal Australian Navy.  Greenroom Robotics will integrate their Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV) control software into Sentinel (a decommissioned Armidale-class Patrol Boat) that will allow autonomous navigation, remote pilotage and control, mission planning and operations. Read more at Austal news & media.

Release of Australian Code of Practice Edition 2

Call for abstracts/date claimer – TAS 2024 Symposium

Following the success of previous TAS Symposiums we are pleased to announce Wednesday 27 March for the TAS 2024 Symposium in Brisbane (mark the date in your calendars). Final arrangements are underway with the venue and registrations are anticipated to be launched in late-January.

In anticipation of announcing the speaker line-up with launch of registrations, TAS are calling on short abstracts with the general interim theme of ‘disruptive and transformative innovation’. While TAS are Defence focussed, we are interested in more general, translatable innovation success stories.

We are keen to hear about:

  • the nature of your innovation, including why it is or could be transformational or disruptive,
  • factors critical to its realisation,
  • challenges you had to overcome along the way, and
  • your ideas for how to foster an environment that can aid in and sustain disruptive innovation in the future.

Please include in response:

  • name and brief qualifications of presenter
  • presentation title
  • abstract of no more than three paragraphs
  • desired/forecast duration of presentation, and
  • telephone and email contact details.

Please direct abstracts to no later than Friday 1 December 2023. TAS will assess the responses and provide advice early in 2024.

HAPS Challenge Phase 3 and Conclusion

TAS participant Cellula Robotics Ltd to continue UUV development with BAE Systems UK

BAE Systems and Cellula Robotic Ltd announce development of the Herne XLUUV, furthering technologies developed in TAS-Cellula SeaWolf program.

An Australian Maritime Regulatory Sandbox

Rachel Horne, General Manager – Law, Regulation and Assurance, Trusted Autonomous Systems


Testing autonomous and remotely operated vessels can be challenging, particularly when it comes to identifying and navigating regulatory pathways. For designers and manufacturers who are not maritime-natives, or are working with iteratively designed vessels or groups of vessels, the process can be particularly confusing and lengthy.

To facilitate more efficient test and evaluation, and to support the gathering of data to support future regulatory development, Trusted Autonomous Systems worked with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and AMC Search to advocate for the establishment of an Australian Maritime Regulatory Sandbox.

This week AIMS announced their success in obtaining an approval enabling permit-free testing and evaluation of vessels up to 12m in length, travelling up to 20 knots within the test range.


ReefWorks Project Director Melanie Olsen said the status removed a time- consuming hurdle and uncertainty for developers and helped clear the path to development for Australia’s fledgling autonomous marine technology sector. 

“For the first time in Australia there is a place where individual developers can go without having to first secure a permit,” she said. 

“It eliminates a significant amount of red tape as well as the expensive possibility of not securing a permit in time for a planned trial. 

“It will also allow ReefWorks to share the lessons we learn with regulators to help reduce risk and drive legislative changes.”[i]



(C) AIMS Jo Hurford


While the Australian Maritime Safety Authority now has established processes in place for autonomous and remotely operated vessels, with many success stories in terms of quick turnarounds on applications, initiatives like the Australian Maritime Regulatory Sandbox remain critical to facilitate innovation in Australian industry. Increasing the efficiency of regulatory pathways by removing hurdles, in a way that does not jeopardise safe operations, benefits all stakeholders involved. This includes designers and manufacturers seeking to conduct rapid and iterative trials on one hand, and AMSA staff who must assess all unique applications on the other hand.

To learn more about Regulatory Sandboxes, and how they are used in other industries, please read the ‘Report Excerpt: Regulatory Sandboxes’ available below.

Report Excerpt: Regulatory Sandboxes


To find out more about the AIMS ReefWorks facility and see some autonomous and remotely operated vessels in action, take a look at this video from the Trusted Autonomous Systems Maritime Showcase 2022.

Trusted Autonomous Systems will continue to work to support this initiative and to bring other initiatives forward to support the Australian autonomous systems ecosystem.


If you would like to contact us to offer feedback or suggestions, or request more information on our projects, please email us at


Detect and Avoid flight trials at the Queensland Flight Test Range

By Tara Roberson, Trust Activities Coordinator


Trusted Autonomous Systems, Revolution Aerospace, and QinetiQ conducted a series of live flight trials at the Queensland Flight Test Range in Cloncurry during December 2022.

The flight trials showcased a Detect and Avoid (DAA) system developed by Queensland SME Revolution Aerospace and demonstrated how crewed aircraft can be detected by a DAA system – allowing remotely piloted aircraft to manoeuvre to a safe position.

The trials were developed as part of a Trusted Autonomous Systems initiative which will produce a DAA guideline – a suite of documents that will provide a critical stepping stone to enable Remotely Piloted Autonomous Systems (RPAS) developers to design and build DAA systems with a regulatory-aligned safety assurance process.

The collaboration aims to support acceleration of Beyond Visual Line of Sight flight for RPAS in Australia.

Aerial photo of the Queensland Flight Test Range, taken by Cloncurry Mustering Company.


Why was this important?

Australia was the first country in the world to regulate drones and remains on the forefront of the future of drone regulation.

With applications for RPAS continuing to emerge, our airspace will become busier. Detect and Avoid systems will be a vital part of how we maintain and enhance safety for everyone involved.

The December trial aimed to test a Detect and Avoid system – which provides an equivalent capability for RPAS – developed by Revolution Aerospace as part of the TAS Detect and Avoid guideline project.

Illustration of a drone detecting a crewed plane through a Detect and Avoid system. Visual created for TAS Ethics of RAS-AI video series


What happened at the flight trials?

At the Queensland Flight Test Range, Revolution Aerospace and QinetiQ worked with local aviation companies Cloncurry Mustering Company (CMC) and Savannah Aviation to conduct real-time activities.

They conducted manoeuvres with RPAS and crewed aircraft – including head-to-head (crewed aircraft approaching the system from the front) and side-on (crewed aircraft approaching the system from the side) – to test Revolution Aerospace’s Detect and Avoid system. The Queensland Flight Test Range provided the test and evaluation space for the trials to be conducted in a safe and controlled manner.

Encounters were largely successful in demonstrating the capability of the system and procedures. A demonstration day at the conclusion of the trials showed the capabilities of the system to delegates from the Queensland Government, Defence Aviation Safety Authority (DASA), and Cloncurry Shire Council.


Assurance of Autonomy Activity

This work forms part of Trusted Autonomous Systems’ Assurance of Autonomy Activity. Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS) is working to support the growing Australian autonomous systems ecosystem by identifying and addressing key hurdles in the assurance and accreditation frameworks for autonomous systems and connecting stakeholders to broaden understanding of issues and effect meaningful change.

The TAS Assurance Activity provides expertise to regulators, government, and Defence and builds bespoke assurance and accreditation approaches for the Australian operational context to enable the integration of autonomous systems. These bespoke approaches aim to help industry access higher risk operational areas and achieve increase operational flexibility while maintaining safe performance and meeting regulatory requirements.

This work 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.

Reflecting on the TAS Maritime Showcase Demonstration, September 2022

Rachel Horne, Assurance of Autonomy Activity Lead, Trusted Autonomous Systems

TAS ran the TAS Maritime Showcase Demonstration in Townsville, Queensland on 28 September 2022. With nine autonomous and remotely operated vessels involved (four live and five static), this event was the largest commercial demonstration of autonomous technology in the maritime domain to date.

Compilation of images from TAS Maritime Showcase Demonstration, images and compilation by Jawahar Bhalla

The event successfully demonstrated how the TAS COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework could be used to inform live trials of autonomous and remotely operated vessels. The event also showcased Australian autonomous vessel operators and the capabilities available at ReefWorks. The event was attended by approximately 65 people from across government, defence, industry, and academia.

An Event Report has been prepared, which describes the event, provides background information on how the COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework informed the planning and execution of scenarios, and sets out key findings and reflections. This Event Report will be used to inform future demonstration events and assurance activities for autonomous and remotely operated vessels in Australia.


TAS Maritime Showcase Demonstration Report

The key finding from the TAS Maritime Showcase Demonstration were:

  • When designing assurance activities, it is critical to consider the specific characteristics and capabilities of each vessel. There is a vast difference in operational capability and needs between different types of vessels, and generic scenarios are unlikely to work for diverse groups.
  • Translating intent is very easy for a remotely operated vessel, where the demo organiser can explain verbally and through pointing at environmental characteristics etc. their intent to an operator, who then operates the vessel accordingly. However, for vessels using autonomous operating systems, the demo organiser and operator need a strong understanding of how the system works, to ensure scenarios can be designed appropriately for the system, and to ensure the right distances and prompts are used.
  • Building in wet run throughs with all parties and environmental requirements present is critical to success. Building a shared understanding of what success looks like, and ensuring scenarios are realistic and appropriate, and all parties understand exactly how they will work and what is expected of them, is critical, and it also helps to build trust in the team.
  • Ensuring the requisite internet connections and associated infrastructure are available to support command and control and communications forms a critical part of live trials, and enlisting expert support is key to success.
  • The regulatory requirements for operating vessels are complex and applications to the regulator can take many months to be processed. Start the process early and continue to follow up regularly. Inviting representatives from regulators is also highly recommended to build familiarity with the technology and comfort with the activities being undertaken.
  • The TAS Demonstration Canvas was important for prompting a range of preparations and activities that ensured observers were well-catered for and understood the activities they were observing.
  • There is generally a low level of awareness and understanding regarding the use of autonomous technology in the Australian maritime domain, and demonstrations play an important role in spreading awareness and gradually building trust in this technology.

Compilation of images, courtesy of the Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS)

Overall the TAS Maritime Showcase Demonstration was a success, with four live vessels participating in a range of scenarios testing their capabilities relevant to COLREGs, and observers gaining a stronger understanding of the technology and how live assurance against COLREGs requirements can be conducted. The key findings, reflections, and feedback identified will help to shape future activities and events planned by TAS and AIMS.

TAS would like to thank all participants in this event, including the teams from:

  • ReefWorks at the Australian Institute for Marine Science
  • MacroData
  • Shoal
  • Downer Group
  • Unique Group
  • James Cook University
  • BTB Marine
  • Surfbee
  • AMC Search
  • EdgeROV
  • L3 Harris
  • Ocius
  • BMT



If you would like to contact us to offer feedback or suggestions, or request more information on our projects, please email us at

Reflecting on the Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022

Rachel Horne, Assurance of Autonomy Activity Lead, Trusted Autonomous Systems

Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS) ran the Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022 in Townsville, Queensland on 28-29 September 2022. Drawing on the outcomes of the inaugural AMSA-led AV Forum in 2019, our event focused on identifying:

  • the status of autonomous vessel development and regulation in Australia, and
  • areas of focus for improving assurance and regulatory pathways into the future.

Over two days more than 70 delegates from government, defence, industry, and academia, participated in the event. Highlights included the preceding TAS Maritime Showcase event with four live and five static vessels at ReefWorks (see AIMS Media Release), together with the many insightful presentations.

Presenters and panellists at the Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022, image and compilation by Jawahar Bhalla

A series of ideas and themes emerged from the event, which are outlined in the Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022 Post-event communique.

Access the communique here

The event had many takeaways – I particularly noted the consensus that existing regulatory pathways are not working for industry and that we need to collaborate to identify what needs to change and how. A poll of attendees highlighted a range of key regulatory issues that need to be addressed.


Slido poll result to question posed at Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022 “What key regulatory issues do you want to see addressed?”


AMSA presenters acknowledged the difficulties they face, and that operators face, in using available regulatory approaches for autonomous vessels, but also highlighted existing flexibility mechanisms that can enable operation, and ways to contribute to consultation processes.


Rob Maher from AMSA presents at the Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022, image captured on behalf of Trusted Autonomous Systems.


Both AMSA presenters participated in a panel after their presentations where a breadth of questions were asked and candidly answered, providing a unique opportunity for participants to access expertise and test ideas. Topics covered included:

  • international collaboration and cross-domain collaboration
  • approaches to risk, including the connection between risk appetite and social licence to operate
  • the need to upskill the workforce, including surveyors
  • whether day and night operations, and surface and subsurface operations, should be certified differently
  • what lights and flags are needed for autonomous vessels
  • different requirements and areas of focus for regulating commercial versus university research vessels, and commercial versus defence vessels
  • opportunities presented by regulatory sandboxes.

Regulatory sandboxes were mentioned multiple times throughout the Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022. General consensus suggested they are a pivotal next step in facilitating innovation in both technology and regulation. A regulatory sandbox is a bespoke regulatory approach put in place at appropriate test ranges, such as ReefWorks in Queensland or the Autonomous Maritime Systems Test & Evaluation Centre (AMS-TEC) in Tasmania, enabling operators of vessels that fit specific criteria to test and trial their vessels without requiring individual approvals from AMSA, and allowing regulatory approaches to be tested in a low risk setting and data to be gathered to inform future development.

Noting the importance of regulatory sandboxes, for their potential to ease the regulatory burden associated with test and trialling autonomous vessels, but critically their importance in supporting evidence-based regulatory development, TAS is working to see a regulatory sandbox implemented in Queensland and Tasmania.


Mike Galvin from Ocius Technology Ltd presents at the Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022, image captured on behalf of Trusted Autonomous Systems.


Simulation was another topic that came up multiple times throughout the Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022. Participants in the event were introduced to simulation at the TAS Maritime Showcase where video presentations by AIMS and BMT showcased how simulation can be used in a maritime environment, including for assurance against requirements such as COLREGs (collision avoidance requirements). Presentations by Shoal also highlighted how different types of simulation can be used to assurance autonomous vessels, providing a virtual environment to refine and gather confidence in a system before taking it to live on-water testing. It was broadly agreed that simulation will be critical for assuring autonomous systems into the future. Some areas requiring further consideration include verification of data sets, diversity of test scenarios, and the need for consistent standards for assurance.

Multiple speakers and attendees highlighted the positive impact of TAS’s work to date in supporting assurance and regulatory pathways across the breadth of commercial industry, academia, and Defence. Specific initiatives highlighted included the Australian Code of Practice, COLREGs Operator Guidance Framework, and RAS-Gateway.


Presenters at the Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022, images and compilation by Jawahar Bhalla.


In my presentation on future regulatory pathways, I highlighted the need to consider how we approach regulation and outlined the concept of ‘anticipatory regulation’. This regulatory approach is characterised as inclusive and collaborative, future-facing, proactive, iterative, outcomes-based and experimental [1]. Picking up on the need to be collaborative, I sought to understand from a broad variety of stakeholders what their regulatory priorities were and what they thought needed to be considered. During my presentation I polled attendees asking what key elements of a future regulatory experience were important for them. The result was a focus on clarity, simplicity, agility, cost, and a regulatory sandbox, also referred to as a sandpit.


Slido poll result to question posed at Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022 “What elements of a future regulatory experience are important to you?”


The Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022 highlighted that there is strong support for, and strong need for, increased open, interdisciplinary, collaboration across the autonomous systems ecosystem. This collaboration should help people and organisations share information and experience, harness lessons learned, and drive beneficial outcomes across the breadth of the ecosystem. Exactly how this collaboration can be facilitated, and by whom, are topics we will continue to explore.


Participants in the Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022, image captured on behalf of Trusted Autonomous Systems.

Participants in the Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022, image captured on behalf of Trusted Autonomous Systems.


TAS would like to thank all participants in the Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022 and particularly the speakers for their insightful presentations. A full list of participating organisations is available in the Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022 Post-event communique.

The Autonomous Vessel Forum 2022 marked a positive step towards ongoing collaboration across the Australian autonomous systems ecosystem, and we look forward to future events.


Next Steps

  • Trusted Autonomous Systems will continue to work with AMSA and other stakeholders to identify opportunities to improve assurance and regulatory pathways in Australia.
  • Trusted Autonomous Systems will support the establishment of a Regulatory Sandbox.
  • Feedback and ideas for future regulatory initiatives can be provided to


If you would like to contact us to offer feedback, suggestions, or request more information on our projects, please email us at


[1] Nesta, Anticipatory Regulation, Access link here

Collaborating to build a better domestic and international regulatory environment for innovative autonomous vessels

By Rachel Horne, Assurance of Autonomy Activity Lead, Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS)

Domestic and international engagement is key for understanding different regulatory, environmental, and operational contexts; providing lessons in how we might approach some of our own challenges; facilitating future collaboration; and accelerating the operationalisation of autonomous vessels nationally and internationally.

In June 2022 TAS Assurance of Autonomy Lead Rachel Horne presented at the Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium 2022 in Amsterdam and visited several UK organisations pioneering autonomous vessel development, assurance, and use. The Symposium brought together industry, defence and government stakeholders to discuss topics that included: Progressing towards Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) adoption; legal, liability, and regulatory frameworks; vision technologies and collision avoidance; novel concepts and case studies; inland and port operations; and solving the challenges of unmanned vessels. The symposium demonstrated that industry is driving rapid technological development, but the regulatory environment and ability to integrate new and evolving technology into commercial use is not advancing at the same pace.


Rachel Horne presenting at Autonomous Ship Expo, Amsterdam June 2022 provided by Rachel Horne and Eva Szewczyk


Industry is driving rapid technological development, but the regulatory environment and the ability to integrate new and evolving technology into commercial use is not advancing at the same pace.


A panel discussion on “Legal, liability, and regulatory frameworks” highlighted this point with fundamental questions raised such as how COLREGs applies to autonomous vessels and whether the convention needs to be amended, how liability will work, and how cybersecurity should be integrated into regulatory frameworks. Combining the experience and expertise of a broad range of parties will help to answer these questions in time, highlighting the need for ongoing domestic and international collaboration. By continuing to talk to each other, organisations lower the risk of reinventing the wheel on some issues while leaving others in the “too hard” basket. How this collaboration should happen and how to make it as productive as possible is something to puzzle out together.

TAS visited leading UK institutions that are pioneering autonomous vessel development, assurance, and use. These included the Assuring Autonomy International Programme (AAIP) and the new Institute for Safe Autonomy at the University of York, the National Physical Laboratory and Smart Sound Plymouth, University of Southampton, and CEbotiX at the National Oceanographic Centre. These initiatives show an advanced state of research is well underway with frameworks and resources being developed, investment in infrastructure and facilities that foster collaborative research and development, and different types of autonomous vessels and supporting technology in use. Australia does not yet have the same level of facilities and infrastructure or the depth of experts and vessels located in close proximity to foster collaboration. Continued discussion and collaboration is vital for ongoing development when it comes to the design, assurance, regulation, and use of autonomous vessels in the future.

There are similarities with the ambitions of Australian organisations, of which many are expanding their autonomous vessel-related offerings on the side of their traditional focus areas. For example, the Australian Institute of Marine Science is pioneering the use of bespoke autonomous vessels for reef monitoring, while also building a tropical marine test range offering. AMC Search is another good example, with increasing service offerings focussed on autonomous vessel operator and technical training, while building a cold-water test range offering. The Defence and Maritime Innovation and Design Precinct being established at the University of Tasmania also shares the ambition of fostering increased science and technology capabilities by facilitating collaboration between Defence Science & Technology (DST) and academics from across the country.

TAS will release in the coming months a series of case studies that highlight the use and regulation of autonomous vessels in Australia and compare Australia’s experience with other countries such as the UK. Preparing these comparative studies, and engaging with a range of UK-based stakeholders, highlighted the difficult regulatory environment and lack of pathways for autonomous vessels, together with the barriers they create. While frustration also exists in Australia, we do have plausible pathways and regulatory initiatives underway to smooth those pathways and enable operators to get their vessels in the water. For example, TAS publication of the Australian Code of Practice and COLREGS Operator Guidance Framework stamps Australia as a world leader in progressing the regulation of autonomous vessels.


Cover pages of the Australian Code of Practice and COLREGS Operator Guidance Framework


Continued collaboration is the best way to ensure continued progress in both domestic and international regulatory frameworks. By pooling the experience, expertise and ideas of multi-disciplinary groups of stakeholders we give ourselves the best chance to mould our current regulatory frameworks to better facilitate autonomy and build new, improved frameworks. Continuing to build the literature exploring the specific and more general legal issues associated with autonomy is also crucial, and will support needed policy, legislative and convention change. Organisations such as the University of Queensland Law and the Future of War team, part of TAS’s Ethics and Law Activity, are leading research in this area, and making it accessible via initiatives such as the Law and the Future of War podcast.

There are opportunities for the Australian autonomous systems ecosystem to advocate for the change they need through both domestic and international processes. For example, domestically, the Independent Review of Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety Legislation and Costs and Charging Arrangements welcomed submissions. Both TAS and the Australian Association for Uncrewed Systems (AAUS) provided submissions to that Review focussed on changes needed to better support autonomy. The Independent Review Panel are due to provide their report to government in November 2022. At an international level, the April meeting of the International Maritime Organization Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 105) highlighted that the MSC is working to develop a goal-based instrument regulating the operation of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS). This instrument is intended to be adopted as a non-mandatory MASS Code by 2024, with a mandatory version to be in force in 2028. AMSA represents Australia in the MSC and will need to continue to engage with the Australian autonomous systems ecosystem to ensure relevant interests are represented. You can contact AMSA through AMSAConnect ( for more information.

TAS recently facilitated a Regulatory Workshop as part of a broader Defence exercise, which brought together a broad range of Defence, Government, industry and academic participants. Reflecting on my key takeaways from the broad-ranging and insightful discussion during the event, I put forward the following key points which I think will resonate with most people working in this space:

  • We must collaborate and communicate.
  • For regulation to be an enabler, not an inhibitor, we need change – at a legislative, regulatory, policy, and cultural level.
  • We do not need perfect; we need to iterate at we go.
  • Trust is critical. We need transparency, explainability and certainty to build that trust.
  • The future is now. We need to accelerate, together, to succeed.

TAS will continue to work to improve the regulatory approach to autonomous vessels and welcomes ongoing collaboration with our domestic and international stakeholders.

For those looking to connect with industry conferences and events on autonomous vessels, there are a few remaining in 2022. They include:

These events offer a unique opportunity to find out what domestic and international counterparts are focussing on, to build relationships, and to set up future collaborations to ensure a thriving and trusted autonomous systems industry in the maritime domain.


If you would like to contact us to offer feedback, suggestions, or request more information on our projects, please email us at