The Australian Government launched its first Defence Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to focus on the development of trusted, autonomous systems for military operations.
This first CRC will bring together Defence, industry and universities to collaborate on the development of a defence capability in the form of unmanned platforms that ensure reliable and effective cooperation between people and machines during dynamic military operations.
The Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP explained that existing autonomous and robotic systems that operate in the manufacturing and mining sector are effective in controlled environments but are not suitable for the uncertain situations in which Defence operates.
The CRC for Trusted Autonomous Systems will receive an annual funding of AU$8 million with a maximum of AU$50 million over a seven year period.
This CRC will be chaired by chaired by Mr. Jim McDowell, who has had an extensive career in the defence industry, and most recently at the University of South Australia.
The Defence CRC brings together academia, publicly funded research agencies, industry, particularly small to medium enterprises (SMEs), to create an interlocking research and innovation capability. Defence will be a member of each CRC along with universities, research agencies and industry and participating members will be selected on the basis of their research excellence and technology expertise.
The CRC is an initiative of the Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF) which 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.
This is the first of several CRCs, with further CRCs to be established in the near future on projects aligned with the other priorities in the NGTF, namely: Cyber; Space; Quantum technologies; Enhanced human performance; Integrated intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance; Medical countermeasure products; Advanced sensors, hypersonics and directed energy capabilities; and Multidisciplinary material sciences.