Pooled development fund Strategic Elements (ASX: SOR) has announced its subsidiary Stealth Technologies is developing an autonomous vehicle in collaboration with the Defence Science Technology Group (DSTG) and will conduct a live demonstration to the Australian Army.
The vehicle will carry drones and sensors into a target environment keeping humans at a safe distance, with the autonomous drone designed to enable rapid traversing of the target area using sensors to map and monitor the location of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) sources.
It will be able to navigate itself through an environment using Stealth Autodrive hardware and OS software and the drones carried on board will autonomously launch, carry out CBRN detection and sensing missions then land back onboard. Data will be communicated back to the mission control centre.
Initial concept design of the autonomous vehicle and the drone launch and land system is expected to be completed in the 2021 third quarter.
Existing collaboration with DSTG
Strategic Elements first revealed Stealth’s expansion into the defence sector in May, announcing its collaboration with DSTG on a feasibility and scoping study evaluating autonomous sensor technology.
DSTG is part of the Australian Department of Defence, providing science and technology support to safeguard Australia and its national interests.
This latest collaboration will also involve the University of Western Australia to build the vehicle and conduct a live demonstration to both DSTG and the Army.
In addition, work will be undertaken to investigate advanced manufacturing capabilities and facilities for production in WA.
“The autonomous CBRN vehicle has the ability to mitigate certain risks that our Australian Defence personnel face in CBRN environments whilst increasing the efficiency and accuracy of CBRN detection and sensing,” Strategic Elements managing director Charles Murphy said.
Industry research shows the global market for CBRN defence amid the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 was estimated at US$16.2 billion (A$21.48 million). It is projected to reach a revised size of US$21.9 billion (A$29 billion) by 2027.
Other potential outcomes of development
Mr Murphy said he is proud of the Stealth team as the AxV autonomous platform gains significant credibility and trust among “some very serious players” looking for autonomous solutions.
“We see significant commercial opportunities to build its value across multiple sectors such as security, defence, mining and logistics,” he added.
Strategic Elements said other outcomes of this latest development work include the potential to leverage the autonomous capability to other Australian Defence Force issues of resupply, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance use cases.