Members of the Royal Australian Navy will train at the Australian Maritime College in the use of autonomous marine systems.
Once border restrictions are lifted, the Navy will send personnel down to the AMC in Launceston to complete the training, after the college and the Navy inked an agreement.
AMC Search Defence and Autonomous Systems manager Chris White said the training had been developed “in lockstep” with the Navy and training had already occurred.
However, on Thursday, an agreement for a three-year extension of the contract, worth $1.5 million in the first year, was announced as secured between the two parties.
The agreement will ensure the ongoing viability of four jobs at AMC Search, who are directly involved in the training program.
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Mr White said autonomous marine systems included the use of autonomous underwater vehicles and on-land vehicles and they both required specific training to use.
“This training would be unique to Australia and definitely to Tasmania, there is nowhere that offers this type of training,” Mr White said.
He said the only thing that came close was operator handling training, which manufacturers would deliver once a vehicle was sold.
However, AMC’s training focused not only on the logistics of launching an AUV but also on how to extract and analyse the data collected.
“Being selected by Navy to deliver this training reflects the technical expertise at the Australian Maritime College,” Mr White said.
The use of AUVs and unmanned surface vessels, or USVs, is becoming a focus of the Navy, as it allows it to monitor and collect data in areas deemed unsafe for humans.
Mr White said it also allowed areas that were previously unexplored to be searched.
The three-year contract will provide training for about 60 Navy personnel per year.
“Autonomous systems are an integral tool used by navies all over the world and the RAN are now on the journey of integrating autonomous technologies as part of Projects SEA 1778 and 1770,” Mr White said.
“This collaboration between AMC and the RAN will develop homegrown expertise in the use and deployment of autonomous systems that will greatly enhance Australian capabilities at sea.”
A training schedule has been drawn up but it will be dependent on border restrictions easing due to the pandemic.