Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Australian Government Enters Field of Autonomous Military Robotics

13 July, 2009: Greg Combet, Australian Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, announced a million dollar international competition challenging research organisations to build fully autonomous ground robots able to operate effectively in military operations.

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The competition, known as the Multi-Autonomous Ground-robotic International Challenge (MAGIC), is being organised by Australia’s Defence Science & Technology Organisation (DSTO) in partnership with the US Department of Defense.

“This competition aims to attract the most innovative solutions from around the world to address a technology gap currently faced by coalition forces operating in urban combat zones,” Mr Combet said.

“While remote-controlled robots are being deployed in operational areas, we need smart, intelligent and fully autonomous systems that can take over from humans in conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions,” Mr Combet said.

“The ultimate aim is to make these operations much safer for our military personnel, leaving the robots to carry out the dirty and dangerous work.”

“The challenge for the competitors is to develop a proposal demonstrating teams of robotic vehicles that can autonomously coordinate their activities and execute a mission in a changing urban environment. The robots must detect, monitor and neutralise a number of potential threats to meet the challenge goals and an international panel of experts will judge the entries.”

“The first five short-listed competitors will each receive research grants of $US100,000 to develop their proposals into prototypes,” Mr Combet said.

“After they have successfully demonstrated their prototypes at a location in South Australia next year, the top three finalists will receive research awards of $US750,000, $US250,000 and $US100,000 respectively.”

“These finalists also have the unique opportunity to qualify for further funding under the US Joint Concept Technology Demonstrator (JCTD) Program, so that their prototypes can be transitioned into operational capability. If an Australian competitor is among the top three finalists, that organisation would also be considered for funding under the Capability & Technology Demonstrator Program managed by DSTO”

“Australia will also have access to these capability developments,” Mr Combet added.

The five shortlisted competitors will be invited to present their projects at the Land Warfare Conference in November 2010.

The competition is valued at US$1.6 million.

Competition details are at:

This press release can be found on The Hon. Greg Combet AM MP Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science and the Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change website - press release.

Media contacts:
Rod Hilton (Greg Combet): 02 6277 4771 or 0458 276 619
Steve Butler (DSTO): 08 8259 6923 or 0418 800 323
Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664

The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) is part of Australia's Department of Defence. DSTO's role is to ensure the expert, impartial and innovative application of science and technology to the defence of Australia and its national interests.

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