French multinational Thales and South-Australian small business Micro-X have signed a $10 million agreement to invest in the development of ultra-miniature x-ray systems.
The systems, which utilise carbon nanotubes in their x-ray imaging, have potential applications in airports and other high-security environments. A backscattering image processing algorithm, augmented with artificial intelligence, will identify suspicious items.
The agreement was negotiated with the support of the federal government’s Global Supply Chain Program, which aims to enable Australian small businesses to become suppliers to multinationals such as Thales.
“This program is helping large defence companies like Thales identify opportunities to engage with innovative, high-tech Australian small businesses,” said Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price.
The ASX listed company, Micro-X, has developed three-dimensional x-ray imaging which can contribute to Thales’s high-speed airport checkpoint security system. Patrons could no longer need to queue for security checks, allowing space to be used commercially or to increase the number of people processed by the end-user.
With the incorporation of Micro-X’s technology, Thales hopes to cut the number of people processed at airport security checkpoints from 200 per hour to more than 1,000, particularly as the global number of people who travel through airports rapidly increases.
Micro-X is headquartered in Tonsley, South Australia, and employs 30 people.
“A partnership like this demonstrates how small businesses in the Australian defence industry continue to produce world-class, innovative defence capabilities,” said Price.
Member for Boothby, Nicolle Flint, described how this partnership, and those like it that leverage the Global Supply Chain Program can support the South Australian economy.
“Partnerships like this one deliver highly skilled jobs and investment for South Australians in South Australia and showcases our defence capability on the global stage,” said Flint.
Micro-X’s x-ray technology has also been used in the health sector for medical imaging devices.