First Australian Defence Cooperative Research Centre formed for development of Trusted Autonomous Systems

The Australian Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, today announced the formation of the first Defence Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Trusted Autonomous Systems. The formation of this CRC had been initially announced in July 2017.

The inaugural participating members are BAE Systems Australia, RMIT University, DefendTex and the Department of Defence, represented by Defence Science and Technology Group.

Initially, there will be three Defence CRC research projects led by BAE Systems, Thales Australia and Lockheed Martin in the land, maritime and aerospace domains respectively (details on the participants are available here).

Additional companies and universities will join as participating members and research partners as the Defence CRC grows and takes on more projects. There are ongoing discussions with Boeing Australia and CSIRO’s (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Data61 for their future involvement in the Defence CRC for Trusted Autonomous Systems. 

Minister Pyne also announced that as the outcome of a competitive process the headquarters of the Defence CRC for Trusted Autonomous Systems will be located in Queensland.

“This announcement is great for the state of Queensland, and clearly proves that our biggest build-up of defence capability in our country’s history is truly a national endeavour”, Minister Pyne said.

The Defence CRC is being set up under the Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF), with AU$50 million invested over seven years to deliver trustworthy smart-machine technologies for new defence capabilities based on advanced human-machine teaming concepts.

(The NGTF together with the Defence Innovation Hub, forms the core of a new integrated defence innovation system for Australia, as outlined in the Government’s Defence Industry Policy Statement. NGTF has been allocated an investment of around AU$730 million till June 2026, while the Defence Innovation Hub will receive around AU$640 million over the decade to FY 2025–26.  

These two signature innovation research and development programs, together with the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC), deliver on the Government‘s AU$1.6 billion commitment to grow Australia's defence industry and innovation sector. Both NGTF and the Defence Innovation Hub are under the Department of Defence, while CDIC is under the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.)

The Defence CRC establishment is based on a formation plan developed by Chairman of the Defence Cooperative Research Centre, Jim McDowell, in collaboration with a panel of independent experienced experts from industry, academia, Defence and the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. The expert panel included former Australian Chief Scientist Ian Chubb, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, the UK Defence Ministry’s Chief Science Adviser, Air Vice Marshall Neil Hart (Retd), and Mr. Paul Merrow, former CEO of GD Defence Australia.

“I thank the panel for their expert advice in shaping the Defence CRC which will play a vital role in giving Defence a game-changing capability,” Minister Pyne said.

Chairman of the Defence CRC, Jim McDowell, commented, “This has been a good start to rapidly form a Defence CRC with a totally novel formation process and to do it on schedule. Our focus as we move forward will be Industry led projects with real translation opportunities to move technology rapidly from universities into industry and ultimately into leading edge capability for the Australian Defence Force.”

Featured image: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Aaron Burden

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