Thales to sponsor AI research at University of South Australia

HMAS Collins. Source: navy.gov.au

Leading defence manufacturer, Thales, will sponsor PhD research at the University of South Australia’s (UniSA’s) Behaviour Brain Body Research Centre – which is to explore the potentials of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and its application within future anti-submarine warfare.

The research is a joint UK-Australia initiative that will help to optimise advanced AI within complex maritime combat systems in support of human operators.  The results from the research will be integrated into capability improvements for Thales’s sonar solutions.

The goal of the Thales-sponsored PhD at the Behaviour Brain Body Research Centre will be to find ways to ensure that human operators remain central in the maritime mission system as increased levels of autonomy and automation are introduced into service.

Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said the research was another step in a long-term program of collaboration and co-development of sonar solutions for both surface ships and submarines.

“We have been working closely with the UK in the area of sensor development for sonar arrays for over ten years,” Jenkins says.

“This collaboration between Thales and UniSA will extend our collaboration into inboard systems.”

The research deepens Australia’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Strategic Partnership with the United Kingdom which was highlighted earlier this year at Australia-UK Ministerial meetings in Edinburgh and with the selection of a UK design for Australia’s Hunter Class frigates.

CEO of Thales in the UK, Victor Chavez, said the research could be used in the Royal Navy’s upcoming platform and maritime combat system procurements.

“I’m delighted to extend our joint work with Australia in this critical area,” Chavez said.

“We rely on strong academic partnerships to ensure we stay at the forefront of this technology in the UK, and we recognise the leading contribution that the University of South Australia’s Behaviour Brain Body Research Centre can bring to both our nations’ anti-submarine warfare solutions.”

UniSA’s Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd said that the university was in the process of growing its defence research capability to meet the needs of the burgeoning industry in the state.

“UniSA’s Behaviour Brain Body Research Centre has developed partnerships over many years across a range of industries including aviation, long-haul transport and defence sectors to study fatigue and human performance,” Lloyd said.

“As defence and other industries increasingly integrate AI systems, expert research from the Centre will help to inform how people work best in these new environments, optimising operational performance and ensuring worker wellbeing.”