Head of Defence’s Innovation Hub witnessed innovation and industry collaboration in action when visiting AUTONOMOUS WARRIOR 2018 (AW18) at HMAS Creswell, Jervis Bay.
Assistant Secretary Defence Capability and Innovation, Mr Andrew Hodgkinson, saw many of the more than 50 autonomous systems participating or displayed at AW18.
Some provided independent capability demonstrations while others undertook tasks directed by centralised command and control systems as part of realistic scenario-based exercise simulations.
The systems were operating within Creswell and other Defence-controlled areas around Jervis Bay, as well as in the waters of the bay and skies above.
Allocated tasks included unmanned aircraft providing wide area surveillance for force protection while maritime autonomous systems simulated an oil rig security patrol and resupply mission.
“I’ve seen a whole wide range of very interesting capabilities, particularly unmanned capabilities, that operate on the ground, in the air and in the water,” Mr Hodgkinson said
“The amazing thing has been to see those capabilities coming together in a realistic warfighting scenario.”
Although impressed by the technology, it was the potential being unleased by human collaboration that left the strongest impression.
“The best thing I’ve seen is the close interaction between industry and defence personnel here at AW18,” Mr Hodgkinson said.
“For Defence to be an innovative organisation going forward that is at the leading edge, and that maintains a warfighting edge, we need to work hand in glove with industry and that is exactly what is happening here.
“This type of activity is an excellent opportunity for industry to get closely engaged with the Defence users of capability, gain an understanding of what they need in terms of fielding capability and how their capabilities can potentially contribute to warfighting effect in the field.”
At the conclusion of his visit, Mr Hodgkinson called on industry players to continue collaborating with Defence to explore the potential of autonomous systems.
“Clearly, as today’s activities demonstrate, autonomy is going to be a key part of the way that we manoeuvre equipment and platforms on the battlefield in the future,” Mr Hodgkinson said.
“We are very keen to partner with industry in ensuring that we are able to deliver those capabilities.
“I would strongly encourage any companies with innovative capabilities, particularly in the autonomous systems area, to participate in this type of activity, such as AW18, and to contribute their ideas to Defence through mechanisms such as the Innovation Hub.”
Launched in December 2016, the Defence Innovation Hub was established to invest $640 million over ten years supporting industry to mature or further develop innovative defence technologies.