Australia – a leader in the race for AI


The Australian government recognized this earlier in 2021 by naming robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence (RAS-AI) as one of the four new strategic industrial capacity priorities (SICP). However, AI is a lot like cybersecurity – it can’t be limited to just one technical area, as it underpins almost every aspect of modern defense technology.writes Olaf Alm, senior director of business development at Sentient Vision Systems.

The Australian government recognized this earlier in 2021 by naming robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence (RAS-AI) as one of the four new strategic industrial capacity priorities (SICP). However, AI is a lot like cybersecurity – it can’t be limited to just one technical area, as it underpins almost every aspect of modern defense technology.writes Olaf Alm, senior director of business development at Sentient Vision Systems.

In many cases, it would be impossible to design, let alone operate, precision guided munitions and hypersonic weapons, for example, or space systems and anything related to information warfare and cybersecurity. without AI – and those tech areas represent the other three CISPs named earlier this year.

Australia’s leadership in RAS-AI has emerged from our offshore oil and gas, mining and resource sectors. AI activates RAS, which enables the remote operation and monitoring of massive ore trains and trucks at remote mining sites or oil and gas platforms in the Indian Ocean. No other country does it so well. This technological leadership is one of the reasons why an Australian oil company, Woodside Energy, is part of the AROSE – Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth – consortium aimed at leading remote operations in space.

In the defense and security industry, AI enables computational fluid dynamics to be undertaken as an essential part of the design process that delivers hypersonic missiles. It allows ‘swarming’ of unmanned vehicles, both in the air and on land – for example, the Drone40 from DefendTex which can be fired from a standard 40mm grenade launcher and has been exported to the British Army and used in real operations in Africa.

More famously, AI is integrated into BAE Systems Australia’s flight and mission control system for Boeing developed in Australia. Loyal Wingman Air Power Team System. It allows multiple autonomous drones to fly safely and cooperate with each other, including with manned fighter jets. BAE Systems Australia has also harnessed AI to develop the M113 Autonomous Armored Personnel Carrier with optional crew, delivering a fleet of 20 such vehicles to the military for unmanned autonomous ground vehicle testing.

All of the examples mentioned were developed and in some cases perfected right here in Australia.

But AI doesn’t suddenly appear. It takes years of determined effort to gain a real mastery of AI in a specific field. Sentient Vision Systems’ ViDAR (for Visual Detection and Ranging) illustrates this.

Founder Dr. Paul Boxer first explored AI and its application to computer vision during his doctoral studies in 1999; Today, ViDAR enables every image in the image stream of an EO / IR sensor to be digitized to detect targets that would be invisible to a human operator and impossible to detect by conventional radio frequency (RF) radar. It could be a survivor in the water with only his head visible, or a fast and stealthy terrorist attack device, or a criminal smuggling drugs or illegal immigrants.

What matters are two things: first, a greater than 90% probability of detecting the target in all but the worst sea and weather conditions, day or night. And second, the ability to conduct targeted surveillance or searches at a much lower cost – an aircraft or drone equipped with ViDAR can cover a specific search area up to 300 times larger than without, while still simultaneously increasing the chances of survival by an order of magnitude. of someone lost at sea. Faster search and a very high probability of detection add significant savings in flight hours, maintenance and crew training.

Above all, AI can save lives. In January 2021, an Australian Maritime Safety Authority Bombardier CL604 equipped with ViDAR detected a boater, Nigel Fox, who had been swept overboard during a storm in the Arafura Sea. Last month, a Diamond DA42 fitted with Sentient’s new VMS-5 (ViDAR) pod during a customer demonstration flight found a rubber life raft containing 24 migrants who had been adrift and missing for 48 hours in North Sea – the search took less than 20 minutes. Good news like this shows the benefits of AI for humanity.

A VMS-5 pod aboard a DA42.

You don’t have to be a big company to achieve this, but you have to be smart and dedicated; it can take over a decade to achieve mastery in an AI-driven field. And Sentient Vision does it well, using the combined AI, colloquially known as Sentient AI, using the best of deep learning, computer vision, and moving object detection. Like any successful AI business, success depends on continuous investment in R&D and innovation and the ability to continue to advance the cutting edge of science.

A similar company is Melbourne-based AOS Pty Limited, whose smart agent JACK was developed by founder Andrew Lucas in 1997. Northrop Grumman now uses it to automate the regional monitoring and response proposal he is developing for the AIR6500 project and provide as few false alarms as possible. rate. It continuously monitors hundreds of targets and immediately spots anomalies that would be invisible or take hours to detect.

AOS is also developing the Kelpie all-terrain vehicle, which uses LIDAR sensors to detect obstacles. Its AI determines if it’s rocks or bushes, or even cattle. It also helps identify fences and then cross the country safely to a predetermined location to deliver things like extra fence posts, a hot lunch, or urgent spare parts. Its applications in the battlefield and logistics are obvious.

Leadership in AI requires a long-term commitment to R&D from industry and academia, and the best results come from close collaboration between them. We are fortunate in this country to have a number of leading AI and computer vision research centers at universities such as Monash in Melbourne, Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, the Australian National University and the University of Adelaide. Sentient Vision Systems works closely with academic researchers such as Dr Mehrtash Harandi of the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering at Monash University, whose research focuses on the areas in which they specialize: machine learning, vision by computer and signal processing.

A collaborating researcher also at CSIRO’s Data61, Dr Harandi is working on the next generation of AI in fields as diverse as biomedical engineering and robotics, not just search and rescue. For example, he is looking for image classifiers that allow computers to learn more like humans and avoid the “catastrophic forgetfulness” that can happen to some AI systems when fed with new information. He wants AI systems to preserve knowledge while gaining new knowledge. This is an essential step in making AI-based systems more adaptive and resilient in the face of unique and challenging situations such as in the SAR field.

Another area of ​​his research is “explainability – define images and objects so that an intelligent system can describe and explain them using its growing stock of knowledge and language – this is very important for the purposes of analysis and reporting and transparency in the operations of ‘IA. The algorithms and mathematical models developed by Dr Harandi are part of Australia’s competitive advantage and help us stay at the forefront in this field.

Australia may be smaller than UK or US, but we are not a junior partner in AI. We are world class and in some cases the best in the world. Some of the technologies our allies are so proud of are not as advanced as ours. When governments make deals, it is important that our leaders and partners abroad understand our strengths and what lies behind them. Australian AI Champions can have a real impact on common challenges if we’re allowed to build the right relationships and play on an equal footing – and even lead on occasion.

Olaf Alm is the Senior Director of Business Development at Sentient Vision Systems

Australia – a leader in the race for AI

Sentient_2.jpg

lawyers weekly logo

Last updated: November 25, 2021

Posted: 25 November 2021


Comments are closed.