Brisbane-based robotics and AI company Cyborg Dynamics Engineering will develop a lightweight, semi-autonomous unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) for Australia's Defence Innovation Hub as part of a $3.3 million contract awarded by the Federal Government.
Founded by Stephen Bornstein, Cyborg already has a geospatial AI contract with the Australian Army that has since been incorporated into the company's 50 per cent owned spin-off Athena AI, which works with the likes of Airbus Helicopters and ASX-listed Xtek (ASX: XTE) with its vision-based AI systems for warfare environments and first responders.
The Australian Department of Defence reports Cyborg Dynamics' innovation will integrate an array of supporting Australian technologies into a modular, robotic platform, which if successful, could enhance the load carriage, fire support capabilities and protection of dismounted soldiers.
It will also explore on-board AI target recognition and advanced driving technologies that could allow for single person operation.
This would enable the all-terrain platform to improve in-field soldier capabilities and lethality, ultimately reducing operator risk by providing a robotic-assisted force.
These innovations would make unmanned combat vehicle like nothing seen before in Australia, according to the Department of Defence.
"The Morrison Government invests in Australian businesses like Cyborg Dynamics because we understand that truly cutting-edge innovation could provide leading capabilities and better protection for the Australian Defence Force,” says Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price.
"The Government’s investment in innovation through the Defence Innovation Hub is critical to ensuring Defence maintains a capability advantage as Australia’s strategic environment continues to rapidly evolve."
Bornstein tells Business News Australia the contract not only gives Cyborg the opportunity to improve its offering but opens the door for spin-offs, while also supporting IP creation at both his company and its robotics partner BIA5, which has rolled out UGVs for fire-fighting and mining settings.
"For us what it represents is it's an opportunity to fortify our robotics capability in-country, bring on board new subject matter expertise, and create the runway necessary to competitively tender major acquisitions," says Bornstein, who is a finalist in the Brisbane Young Entrepreneur Awards that will take place next Friday, 15 October.
He says the deal is good timing as the base platform for the UGV robot was part of a CSIRO robot team that recently came second in the world at the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, often referred to as the 'Robot Olympics'.
"We're also working on a new use case for AI such as Great Barrier Reef protection, and spinning out core technology from this unmanned ground vehicle into construction robotics."
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