National accolades for Navy innovator

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Andrew Herring (author), ABIS Kieran Dempsey (photographer), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer), LEUT James Keane (photographer)

Topic(s): Naval Engineering, Innovation, Unmanned/Remote Systems

Royal Australian Navy officer Lieutenant Harry Hubbert, RAN, with the Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel during Exercise Autonomous Warrior 2018 at HMAS Creswell, Jervis Bay. (photo: ABIS Kieran Dempsey)
Royal Australian Navy officer Lieutenant Harry Hubbert, RAN, with the Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel during Exercise Autonomous Warrior 2018 at HMAS Creswell, Jervis Bay.

Navy innovation is in the national spotlight, with Engineers Australia naming engineering officer Lieutenant Harry Hubbert among Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers for 2019.

Lieutenant Hubbert was recognised for “development of advanced Maritime Autonomous Systems outside of their typical duties or expected capability” because of his work creating ‘WAM-V’ – the Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel.

This low-cost, robotic unmanned surface vessel was constructed using donated or second hand sensors and equipment but featured newly developed machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms.

WAM-V recently performed extremely well alongside more expensive and sophisticated vessels from major defence and technology companies during Exercise Autonomous Warrior, held in Jervis Bay NSW in November 2018 to explore the use of robotic, autonomous and uninhabited systems in defence operations.

WAM-V operated in collaboration with assets above and below the surface in a challenging maritime environment. The custom machine learning software Lieutenant Hubbert developed enabled WAM-V to detect other vessels around it, avoid collisions and scan the horizon for gunnery firings.

The collaborative project brought together contributions from Navy, Ocius Technology, Thales, Flinders University and the Defence Science and Technology Group.

“I am extremely honoured to be selected to receive this award. I am passionate about improving the Navy and advancing our maritime autonomous systems,” Lieutenant Harry Hubbert said.

“I would like to thank my superiors within the Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Group, Directorate of Navy Continuous Innovation and Project Jericho who have supported my work outside of my typical duties and aided in me being able to work on my extra-curricular projects,” he said.

Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers is an annual program run by Engineers Australia’s Create magazine to recognise 30 of Australia’s most innovative engineers across 10 categories from a cross-section of the profession.

Now in its fourth year, the listing celebrates engineering innovation and showcases the important role engineers play in solving some of the world’s biggest challenges.

Awards applicants were asked to explain what their project was, the problem it solved, the benefits it offered, why it was innovative and the role they played individually.

Imagery from Exercise AUTONOMOUS WARRIOR 18 is available on the Navy Image Gallery: 
https://images.navy.gov.au/S20183324.