Australia’s Sentient ViDAR system secures contract for testing

The Royal Australian Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopter conducts aviation training with HMAS Adelaide. Image credit: Department of Defence

An Australian-developed innovative intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) system has been selected by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, to undergo a testing and development program.

Melbourne-based Sentient Vision Systems (Sentient) has been awarded a contract to further test and develop the ViDAR (Visual Detection and Ranging) system that could see Australian capability integrated with the sensor suites on the MH-60R Seahawk.

Lockheed Martin will work with Sentient to evolve the capability of the ViDAR system, which is a persistent wide area motion imaging (WAMI) system, designed to autonomously detect, geo-locate, track and classify objects over vast areas of terrain below an aircraft or UAS.

Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand chief executive Joe North congratulated Sentient on the development of the cutting-edge ViDAR system as an illustration of the strength and resilience of Australia’s sovereign defence industry capability, which underpins the company’s approach to growing Australian sovereign industrial capability.

“Lockheed Martin Australia’s approach of incubating innovation and growing SME capability is helping to create the conditions and the opportunities to build both capability and operational resilience needed for companies like Sentient to be able to compete on the world stage, and in this case with the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter,” North said.

“Sentient Vision Systems is a global leader in ISR technology solutions and we are proud to have had a long association, initially through R&D integration and testing of their Kestrel detection software for future rotary capability and potentially now with ViDAR as well.”

The new opportunity with the ViDAR testing, development and integration validation program with Sentient and Lockheed Martin engineers and teams in Australia will enhance the capabilities of these platforms, while also advancing Australian sovereign defence industry capability.

Sentient Vision Systems managing director, Paul Boxer, welcomed Lockheed Martin’s contract award to explore the potential for the ViDAR system, while reaffirming the critical importance of such industry partnerships to realising global export opportunities for Australian industry.

“We are excited about the potential for ViDAR to be integrated with sensor suites across Lockheed Martin’s MH-60R Seahawk platforms globally as this represents a significant opportunity for Sentient.”

“We look forward to working closely with their engineers to complete the testing, development and integration validation phases for the system,” he said. “Australia has world-class innovators, but it is through partnerships with global technology companies like Lockheed Martin that Australian industry can realise global export opportunities for cutting-edge solutions.”

The world’s first Optical Radar, ViDAR is currently used by many agencies and forces, including the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Royal Australian Navy and the US Coast Guard for a broad range of search missions including search and rescue, illegal fishing, counter narcotics and maritime security.

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