PBAT Sentinel project led by Austal completes sea-trials for RAN

Austal Media Release (Excerpt) – In a noteworthy development within the Australian maritime sector, the collaborative Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial (PBAT) project has successfully completed Sea Acceptance Trials (including Endurance Trials) of the remote and autonomously operated vessel, Sentinel.

The trials, conducted by Austal Australia, consisted of a series of remote and autonomous navigation events conducted off the Western Australian coastline during March and April 2024; utilising Greenroom Robotics’ Advanced Maritime Autonomy (GAMA) software to reliably navigate the de-commissioned Armidale-class Patrol Boat. Throughout the trials, a limited number of project team members, observers and a crew from International Maritime Services (IMS) were on board, ensuring a swift response in case of any unforeseen deviations or necessary manual interventions.

Funded by the Commonwealth of Australia, PBAT is a collaboration between Austal Australia, Greenroom Robotics, Trusted Autonomous Systems and the Royal Australian Navy Warfare Innovation Navy (WIN) Branch to establish robotic, automated and autonomous elements on a former Navy patrol boat to provide a proof-of-concept demonstrator, for optionally crewed or autonomous operations. The trial has also explored the legal, regulatory pathways and requirements of operating an autonomous vessel.

Austal – Full Media Release

Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial – Video YouTube

TAS feature in The Australian – Helping the drone war balance autonomy and in-flight ethics

Special Report: Helping the drone war balance autonomy and in-flight ethics.

TAS hold fourth Symposium

TAS held our fourth Symposium 27 March in Brisbane with engagement and participation with a range of interesting speakers and networking among diverse attendees. We were joined on video message (sitting-week) by Minister Hon. Pat Conroy, whose portfolio includes Defence Industry, in-person by Queensland Minister, Hon. Leanne Linard MP whose portfolio includes Science & Industry. This is demonstrative of the ongoing support TAS have received from the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science and Resources, Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), Defence Australia services (Navy, Army and Air Force) and Queensland Department of State Development and Infrastructure (via Defence Jobs Queensland) and Department of Environment, Science and Innovation ( via Advance Queensland).

Thanks to all presenters and attendees for their contributions and support to TAS over time and we look forward to future opportunities for engagement in supporting Defence, defence industry and research collaboration.

RAS Gateway and CoP Survey

Do you use any TAS regulatory resources or tools? Click here to access our new survey, and tell us how they’ve helped, or what would make them better.

Over the past four years, Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS) has worked with government, Defence, industry and academic stakeholders to develop ‘public good’ regulatory resources. These are intended to help people involved in designing, testing and using autonomous systems better understand and navigate regulatory frameworks.

These include the RAS-Gateway and Australian Code of Practice for the Design, Construction, Survey and Operation of Autonomous and Remotely Operated Vessels  – developed in partnership with the Queensland Government through its Assurance of Autonomy (A2) initiative.

So that we can make sure these resources remain relevant and available into the future,  TAS  is conducting a survey on how and why people access the RAS-Gateway and Australian Code of Practice.

Do you have 10 minutes to complete the survey? It is available here until 8 April 2024. If you can, please share the survey with your colleagues and networks too.

We’ll keep you updated on the results and next steps.

Need more information?

You can view the RAS-Gateway and Australian Code of Practice by visiting www.rasgateway.com.au.

You can also get more information on the survey, or any of TAS’ resources by contacting info@tasdcrc.com.au.

US Marines to experiment with Athena AI, outcome from TAS NGTF and Queensland Government co-funded research

US Marines to experiment with Athena AI, an outcome from TAS NGTF and Queensland Government co-funded research.

TAS project led by BAE Systems – Laying the groundwork for a next generation trusted autonomous capability

News on TAS project led by BAE Systems, TAGVIEW – Laying the groundwork for a next generation trusted autonomous capability.

When the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts

You may have heard the saying, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ a quote attributed to Aristotle’s Metaphysics Book VIII. Many consider this to mean that a single thing made of many separate parts can be of more value than the individual parts on their own.  However, I subscribe to the interpretation that Aristotle was referring to the mysterious properties of ‘emergence’. Emergence describes the idea that whole things can exhibit special properties which are meaningful only when attributed to the whole as they do not exist in the separated parts.  This idea can be applied to collective behaviours and systems and, at least from a system engineering point of view, can also be intangible and difficult to replicate. In this case, the whole becomes something besides the parts which is a more accurate translation of Aristotle’s words.

Over the last seven years, Australia’s first Defence Cooperative Research Centre Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS), has provided evidence to support the validity and value of emergence.  TAS has brought together and led the ‘parts’ – industry and academia – to enable the creation and conversion of Intellectual Property (IP) to capability in Defence. In doing so, and over time, a system of common behaviour, purity of mission, and focus has also emerged which has been an important factor in the success rate of translating this innovation into Defence capability.

For example, Consunet is a world-leading provider of cyber and spectrum security systems and one of TAS’ valued partners in developing and delivering capability for Defence. In 2019, Consunet developed its Distributed aUtonomous Spectrum managemenT system, known as DUST, as part of a four-year research and development collaboration with several Australian universities and the @Defence Science and Technology Group, supported by Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF) investment from TAS. DUST utilises machine learning and artificial intelligence to plan and allocate radio spectrum usage to achieve optimised spectrum utilisation in congested and contested environments, and has been incorporated into the proposed Joint Air Battle Management System for AIR6500. This innovation brings a wealth of Australian-developed AI and cyber security spectrum management expertise to Defence’s Joint Air Battle Management System – AIR6500-1 program.

Another example of the value of collaboration has been TAS’ partnership with Athena AI, a Queensland-based company that evolved through the NGTF-funded Joint Autonomous UAS Effects (JAUASE) project investment. Athena AI grew from a TAS introduction and investment in Skyborne Technologies and Cyborg Dynamics Engineering along with TAS’ support of the technical, ethical and legal elements of the project. This project developed autonomous live reconnaissance effects assessment using AI and machine vision for day and night Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations over land. Commercial sales for Athena AI continue to grow, with Athena AI recently signing a deal with three Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to supply to the US Department of Defense, signalling Athena’s growing global profile.

The outcomes of the Consunet and JAUASE projects would not have been possible without TAS’ leadership. These are but two examples of TAS’ skill in bringing together the expertise of universities and industry to deliver commercialisation of IP and grow Australia’s Defence capability. TAS has proven its ability to facilitate partnerships across industry and academia to convert innovation to capability for Defence, and in doing so, has become something more than the sum of its programs.

I believe that TAS’ can continue to play its essential role in continuing to support industry and academic collaboration and we welcome discussion of opportunities to fund further innovation in Australia’s Defence industry.

Glen Schafer, TAS CEO