New research facility to focus on AI and autonomous systems for defence and non-defence technologies

16 Jun 2022

Elbit Systems of Australia (ELSA) has opened a Centre of Excellence for Human-Machine Teaming and Artificial Intelligence in partnership with the Victorian Government. The centre focuses on researching, developing and commercialising defence and non-defence technologies.

Using drone technology to assist in emergencies

ELSA has signed a two-year partnership with RMIT University to undertake two research projects. The projects will focus on using drones to assist with mass evacuations during natural disasters and other emergencies.

The research will look at how to use drones to count the number of people in designated evacuation zones. It will also examine how to coordinate and communicate the most efficient evacuation routes to everyone in the zone and monitor the area to ensure everyone is accounted for.

‘It is rare that an emergency management organisation has access to research and development money to spend,’ says ELSA Managing Director, Major General (ret’d) Paul McLachlan, AO, CSC. ‘Most funding goes to operations that is spent – and quite rightly – on appliances and people.

‘Our vision is to create an opportunity to collaborate and co-develop innovative technology that would make their jobs easier and better and that’s what this partnership with RMIT signifies today.’

Developing innovative technology for the Australian market

Through the Centre, ELSA will work with Victorian universities and research organisations to foster collaboration between the defence and non-defence sectors.

It will also partner with startups and SMEs to commercialise discoveries in:

  • autonomous systems
  • machine vision
  • robotics
  • industrial internet of things networks
  • augmented and virtual reality.

The Centre will give ELSA a chance to broaden its business footprint and home-grown capabilities at its purpose-built Port Melbourne engineering facility. It will also improve the company’s potential to engage with R&D partners in Melbourne and across Australia.

‘The launch of the Centre of Excellence is a key milestone in ELSA’s transformation to be an independent innovative technology company in Australia employing locals to create products specially designed for the Australian market,’ says McLachlan.

How Austrade helped

Austrade has supported Elbit Systems over several years. The agency hosted Elbit Systems at Avalon 2019 and organised a subsequent guided tour of key research facilities around Australia.

Throughout the process of planning and setting up the R&D Centre of Excellence, Austrade helped investigate and profile key Australian R&D expertise in the company’s areas of interest.

‘Austrade’s outstanding support throughout the process has been a key factor in creating a technology and business engagement with the relevant points of contact,’ says Dr Alon Stopel, Vice President and Corporate Chief Scientist, Elbit Systems.

‘Austrade also helped us connect with the government entities that financially supported us, leading to the successful initiation of this centre of excellence.’

About Elbit Systems of Australia

Formed in 2010, ELSA provides solutions and systems for homeland security, emergency services and defence. The company’s engineers and end-user specialists transform leading-edge technology to meet Australian standards. ELSA employs around 250 people, of which about 80 are military veterans, including six new staff at the Centre of Excellence. ELSA is the Australian subsidiary of Elbit Systems, a defence contractor and trusted supplier of defence and security equipment globally.

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