Strategic Elements (ASX: SOR) is expanding into the defence sector with its subsidiary Stealth Technologies’ autonomous vehicle and platform technologies.
The Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) will conduct a feasibility and scoping study with Stealth, evaluating the technology for autonomous sensing and search of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) sources.
Research will involve integrating DST’s search algorithms into Stealth’s autonomous unmanned ground vehicle (UAG) and unmanned airborne vehicle (UAV) hardware and software platforms, and development of an initial software exemplar.
DST will pay the costs of the studies with final delivery expected by the end of the next month.
Part of the Australian Department of Defence, DST is focused on improving defence capability by protecting personnel from strategical, tactical and physiological impacts of exposure to toxic chemicals and materials and CBRN weapons.
“Operating in CBRN threat environments is arguably the hardest assignment war fighters have,” Strategic noted.
“Not only do they have to perform strenuous tasks such as keeping adversaries at bay or supporting civilians in the aftermath of a disaster, they also face the challenge of potentially having to do these tasks in the presence of dangerous and invisible threats that spread rapidly and widely if uncontained.”
Strategic added the threat of CBRN attacks was growing.
Detecting CBRN threats from a distance
Under the collaboration, DST and Stealth will integrate DST’s search algorithms for detecting CBRN sources into Stealth’s UAV.
The UAV will be launched from Stealth’s UGV.
The strategy is to use Stealth’s UGV to carry the drone and sensor into a target environment while keeping humans at a safe distance.
Then the UAV will be able to rapidly traverse the area using DST’s sensors to map/or monitor the location of CBRN sources.
Next generation development
While it works on its new defence collaboration, Stealth is continuing to upgrade its autonomous vehicle technology where it aims to develop the first “automated perimeter security” solution of its kind worldwide.
In collaboration with US major Honeywell, Stealth has deployed an autonomous security vehicle for the Western Australian Department of Justice’s Eastern Kalgoorlie Regional Prison.
The vehicle has been deployed to increase perimeter security and reduce the amount of human involvement in testing and patrols – freeing staff up for more skilled tasks.
Stealth is upgrading the autonomous security platform with a “sensor fusion stack” that comprises extra sensors including LiDAR, radar, GPS, sonar, thermal imaging and different camera types.
The idea is that each sensor adds different strengths and data.
“Stealth is building a flexible autonomous platform that we intend to deploy in sectors such as security, defence and mining to name a few,” Strategic managing director Charles Murphy said.
“The automation and robotics platform that we are continuing to build and deploy has a tremendous opportunity in front of it and we have a great technical team being superbly led by executive director Elliot Nicholls,” he added.