Manufacturing News

Flinders underwater robot wins maritime challenge

A new Flinders University project that will enable autonomous underwater vehicles to launch and recover themselves without the need for human aid has won an award.

The winning entry for the inaugural Fincantieri-Flinders-CETENA Maritime Innovation Challenge was announced at an Adelaide ceremony attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Angelino Alfano.

The successful project will receive $310,000 from Fincantieri Australia to further their research.

The Maritime Innovation Challenge was pioneered by global shipbuilder Fincantieri in collaboration with Italian maritime research company CETENA and Flinders University to foster international research collaboration among the world’s finest engineering minds and help advance Australia’s sovereign defence capability.

“Fincantieri is delighted to support growth and innovation in the maritime industry by providing Flinders University a platform to apply its exceptional research to the naval challenges of the future,” said Fincantieri Australia Chairman, Dario Deste.

“The Maritime Innovation Challenge builds on the productive relationship that Fincantieri enjoys with Flinders University and provides a fresh platform for us to work together on developing maritime capability by addressing the technological and environmental challenges we face.

“Fincantieri is very committed to fostering Australian originated research in all aspects of marine technology and helping to build an adaptive and responsive innovation ecosystem ecosystem which produces tangible results for all involved.”

The challenge was officially launched at the Pacific 2017 International Maritime Exposition in Sydney in October this year and attracted a range of high quality submissions from Flinders University researchers.

Competition for first place was tight, with research proposals spanning a number of priority areas in maritime innovation including maritime manufacturing and materials science and technology.

Lead researcher of the winning project, Associate Professor Karl Sammut, says that the funding received from the Maritime Innovation Challenge will allow his research team to innovate a new intelligent guidance system for autonomous underwater vehicles that may have applications across the naval, research and commercial sectors.

The winning project team will collaborate with researchers from the University of Genoa, further strengthening the synergy between Australian and Italian maritime researchers.

The Maritime Innovation Challenge also builds on a pre-established relationship between Flinders University and Fincantieri, through which several Flinders students have already undertaken internships with Fincantieri in Genoa and Trieste, Italy.

The latest initiative takes this relationship to a new level of commitment and collaboration, a move which was welcomed by Minister Alfano.

“The quality of the submissions made to the Maritime Innovation Challenge have demonstrated the strength, capacity and global industry relevance of the naval research currently taking place at Flinders University,” said Professor Colin Stirling, president and Vice-Chancellor of Flinders University.

“This research spans autonomous vessels for maritime surveying and mine detection to harnessing fibre-optic technology to detect noise and damage on ships.

“The challenge has also given Flinders the chance to take its world-class innovations in naval shipbuilding and defence to a global market through Fincantieri, and make an impact on a rapidly evolving sector.

“We sincerely thank Fincantieri and CETENA for their investment in our research and the opportunity to leverage the significant talent of our maritime scientists and engineers on a global stage.”

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