Australian and US universities to work together on autonomous vehicles

The University of Melbourne, Macquarie University, the University of New South Wales and Queensland University of Technology, will join forces with Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A consortium of four Australian universities will receive $3 million from the Morrison Government to work with their American counterparts on developing the next-generation of autonomous vehicles.

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Melissa Price MP, said autonomous capability was a key priority for Defence because of its important safety and efficiency benefits.

“Autonomous vehicles help keep troops a safe distance from harm and present solutions to a range of problems faced by our military personnel in the field,” Minister Price said.

The University of Melbourne, Macquarie University, the University of New South Wales and Queensland University of Technology, will join forces with Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They will explore whether the way in which living creatures receive, process and react to environmental and contextual information can be applied to robots to improve their perception, navigation and spatial awareness.

“This project is aimed at developing a truly autonomous vehicle capable of learning, adapting to unexpected situations and pursuing complex goals in dynamic and challenging environments,” Minister Price said.

“It is a tremendous opportunity for our scientists to collaborate with their counterparts in the United States on research that is vital for the future defence and security of Australia.”

The funding was awarded under the AUSMURI program, a sister program to the US multidisciplinary university research initiative (MURI). AUSMURI supports Australian universities which are part of successful bids in the US MURI process.

Designed to encourage collaboration between Australian universities and their US counterparts, AUSMURI provides funding of up to $1 million per year for three years, supporting research in high priority areas for Defence.

“In addition to providing critical Defence capability, the AUSMURI program will help to grow local skills and expertise in key areas,” Minister Price said.

A total of $25 million from the Next Generation Technologies Fund will be invested in the AUSMURI program over the next nine years.

Further information regarding the Next Generation Technologies Fund is available at https://www.dst.defence.gov.au/nextgentechfund.

Originally published 20 September 2019 by the Australian Government Office of Defense, Science and Technology.

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