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Marine Autonomous Fleets
(Lieutenant) Robotics Engineer, Royal Australian Navy; BEng (Naval Architecture), Australian Maritime College at the University of Tasmania
Over the past year, Harry Hubbert has developed and deployed robotics projects for the Royal Australian Navy under his own initiative, using a completely self-taught skillset.
One such project involved the development and deployment of an unmanned surface vessel (USV) as part of a collaboration Hubbert led between the Navy, local industry partners, academia and the Department of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group.
“The breakthrough was in the advancement of field robotics towards the goal of multi-platform fleet autonomy. ”
Hubbert designed the electronics and software for the USV, which was sent to sea as a communications gateway with autonomous underwater vehicles.
His breakthrough was in the advancement of field robotics towards the goal of multi-platform fleet autonomy. This saw self-made, low-cost systems working in collaboration with significant assets above and below the surface in a challenging maritime environment.
Using Hubbert’s machine-learning algorithms, the onboard intelligence enabled an unmanned catamaran to detect other ships around it.
Hubbert also developed computer vision and machine-learning software for scanning horizons and gunnery firings. In addition, he designed and trained a custom machine learning model for collision avoidance that could detect boats and obstacles.
The model ran in real time onboard the USV and with a higher accuracy, speed and robustness than any other models that the Navy has tested.
Hubbert brought together an array of organisations, including Ocius Technology, Thales, Flinders University and the DST Group, while winning the support of the Navy.
This enabled him to meet a deadline that might have otherwise seemed unachievable.
His efforts have also motivated the innovative spirit within the Navy and the broader defence industry community.
The automated USV uses a common platform that is also being developed by universities across Australia and the Pacific.
As a result, it carries the potential for future science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) collaboration between the Navy, schools and academia.