The current military operation of unmanned vehicles is highly human-intensive. Typically, each vehicle has a low degree of autonomy and is controlled by multiple operators.
The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP) is a five-eyes (FVEYS) science and technology forum directed by five Principals who are the chief Defence scientists in their respective nations. In 2014, the Principals requested an “Autonomy Strategic Challenge” (ASC) to demonstrate the art of the possible. The TTCP ASC team developed and integrated a range of government technologies from each nation to meet that challenge.
TTCP participated in the Unmanned Warrior 2016 exercise in the UK. Significant advances in Autonomy were demonstrated by TTCP in Mine Counter-Measures (MCM). However, significant improvement in “platform autonomy” and human workload reduction was identified as critical across all warfare areas (not just MCM) to increase mission effectiveness and efficiency.
In the spirit of Unmanned Warrior 2016 (UW16), DST is leading the Autonomous Warrior 2018 (AW18) activity in Jervis Bay, Australia to “stand on the shoulders” of the giant effort executed by the UK, and, with our partners, take autonomy to a whole new level across multiple warfare areas. AW18 is unique in bringing together three activities at the same time in November 2018:
- ADF Exercise Ocean Raider 2018 (RAN fleet concentration period),
- Industry demonstrations of Autonomous Systems (not discussed further here), and
- The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP) trial “Wizard of Aus.”
This call focuses only on the “Wizard of Aus” trial component. An additional Special Notice will be released in 2018 for the broader Autonomous Warrior 2018 exercise.
The TTCP ASC team has developed a Command & Control (C2) system to enable “human on the loop” control of multiple autonomous vehicles by a single operator. Several autonomous vehicles will be provided by FVEYS government partners to test the system, however, we need more vehicles, and especially those that can offer increased “platform autonomy”. In this call we invite Australian Industry to come forward with Autonomous Vehicles capable of sustained operation in air, sea-surface, sea-subsurface, and land environments for coordinated control to meet several military use case scenarios.
A limited budget of up to $1M has been allocated for the purposes of this trial. Where outcomes necessitate, our intention is to provide some funding for interface development, travel and other setup and logistics costs and only for those submissions that have a strong justification for support.
The “Wizard of Aus” trial seeks to demonstrate and evaluate with FVEYS military operators, the ability of an operator to control multiple autonomous vehicles to meet a range of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)-based military missions in a complex and dynamic littoral environment.
The critical trials objectives for analysis and evaluation are as follows:
- Control of more than 10 unmanned vehicles by a single operator to deliver an ISR product in a dynamic & changing threat environment;
- Unified action via “plays” with multiple platform teams covering multi-national and cross-domain interoperability;
- Maintain operations under degraded communications;
- Demonstrate an ability to move from manual to on board automatic target recognition, in response to limited communications;
- Unmanned Surface Vessels support for Unmanned Underwater Vessels acoustic communications;
- Developing an understanding of how systems re-plan scenarios based on environment change and with degraded communications;
- Demonstrate sharing of ISR information and interoperating autonomous vehicles.
To place these objectives into meaningful situations, three “use cases” for the trial are currently envisaged, but also subject to change as follows:
- Fleet Base Protection of air, sea surface, sub-surface and land domains while RAN assets are moored alongside. This will include both operation under routine surveillance conditions as well as dynamic response or re-tasking against coordinated attacks across multiple domains;
- Counter-Arms Smuggling covering the transfer of arms between vessels at sea, providing eyes-on interception of a suspect vessel using manned and unmanned assets, and underwater recovery of dumped arms;
- Support to an Army Foot Patrol providing overwatch, route changes and situational awareness cues.
Integration, demonstration and evaluation will occur between 5th Nov – 23rd Nov 2018 at HMAS Creswell, Jervis Bay, NSW. The trials period will include system setup, testing and operation within the three core scenarios, testing with military operators, and VIP demonstrations on the last two days of the trial (22 and 23 Nov only).
Audience – VIPs
The demonstration will have high visibility within Australian government, ADF and the FVEYS community. This is a great opportunity to showcase capabilities to potential end users. It is expected that attendance across the trial period will include the Minister for Defence Industry, ADF officers including Chief of Navy and members from Army and Airforce, TTCP Principals and participating S&T staff, senior military officers from FVEYS nations, regional Defence partners from military and science areas, FVEYS industry and national media.
Partnership Opportunity – How To Apply
Applications are open to registered Australian businesses and Publicly Funded Research Organisations (PFROs). Note that participating universities must be a party to the Defence Science Partnering (DSP) Deed to qualify.
Proposals are to specify:
- A description of autonomous vehicle(s), sensors and payload(s) that can be tasked and managed by the TTCP C2 system and made available for the trial;
- Broad capabilities of autonomous vehicles (e.g. vehicle dynamics, degree of autonomy, endurance, sensor capabilities, etc). Responses should include how and why these may be relevant to the three scenario use cases;
- Support requirements for vehicle deployments (e.g. requirements for personnel, recovery after each deployment etc.);
- confirmation of consent to FVEYS collection of trials data for the purpose of evaluation during and post-trial.
Defence will award contracts to eligible companies and PFRO’s that have met the eligibility criteria and most completely addressed the selection criteria by submitting the attached application form (DOCX; 20.54 KB).
Proposals will be evaluated against the following criteria:
- Relevance: to the Autonomous Warrior 2018 objectives and statement of work;
- Impact: Proven track record delivering high performing and innovative solutions for autonomous systems;
- Feasibility: Autonomous vehicle, sensor and engineering capabilities are fit for purpose;
- Leverage: Successful applicants will contribute cash and or in-kind contribution commensurate with their ability to do so;
- Timeliness: Ability to deliver against trials milestones and outcomes.
Proposals will be evaluated by a panel of DST Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and international stakeholders independent of Australian Industry.
Please submit completed applications to AW18applications@dst.defence.gov.au by 1700 AEST 17th November 2017. Please note that DST will retain all files for Defence purposes, including but not limited to internal reporting, FVEYS evaluations post trial and audit purposes.
Queries relating to this partnership opportunity should be directed to AW18enquiries@DST.defence.gov.au
Statement of Work and Milestones
- a) Develop an Autonomous Vehicle (AV) interface to the (C2) system (specification will be furnished by Defence once contracts have been executed) and demonstrate system(s) compliance with the interface specification under controlled test conditions, (event Expected late June / early July 2018 in Sydney).
b) All AV C2 will be through STANAG 4586 version 3.
- Provide a specification of the autonomous system(s) behaviours to a degree sufficient for control of the vehicle and payload, (by 28 February 2018), noting this will be shared by FVEYS partners and treated strictly as commercial-in-confidence. Defence will provide example “plays” to illustrate the required format of the behaviour specification.
- Make vehicle(s) available for control by TTCP system in Jervis Bay for use over the full trials period.
Please note that failure to meet milestones 1 & 2 may result in your project not progressing through to the trials period.
Control of the AW18 activity will be performed as a function of the Exercise Control (EXCON) by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Access and opportunities for input to safety plans will be made available prior to the start of the exercise. An overarching AW18 framework agreement will be exercised prior to trial as part of the broader Autonomous Warrior 2018 exercise and is a mandatory requirement for participation in the trial. Although Defence will have a level of insurance cover for the trial, it is imperative that all participants have the appropriate coverage for the duration of the project.
During setup and execution of the trial, separate areas will be made available for each industry participant for storage and operation of equipment and mounting of trial operations. But it will be up to industry participants to secure and manage their own equipment.
Industry Announcement on Portal: Friday 3rd of November 2017.
Applications close: 1700 AEST 20th November 2017.
Successful applicants notified: 1st December 2017.
Contracting concludes: 1700 AEST 18th December 2017.
Conditions of Award
- This opportunity is open to registered Australian businesses and PFROs only.
- Universities must be party to Defence Science Partnering (DSP) deed.
- Successful applicants must be able to meet milestones and timelines.
- Successful applicants will enter into the appropriate (attached below) contracting arrangement within 3 weeks of announcement.
- All participants must commit to the Autonomous Warrior 2018 terms relating to public liability and professional indemnity insurance coverage to participate in the trial phase (milestone 3).
- Consent to FVEYS collection of trials data for the purpose of evaluation during and post-trial.
Successful applicants will be required to enter into an arrangement using one of the following contracting templates. Defence will enter into contracts with the lead party in each proposal. There will be no opportunity as part of this activity to negotiate multiparty arrangements. Any additional parties are required to be listed as subcontractors in the agreements.
- Universities must be party to the Defence Science Partnering (DSP) deed (PDF; 514.98 KB) and will be engaged under the “standard rate” – Research Rate 2.
- Industry participants will be engaged under the Defence Innovation Hub innovation contract (PDF; 714.34 KB).
- Any IP generated as part of this trial will vest in the lead partner on each project. Defence requires a license for Defence purposes only.
Any Commonwealth funding contributed to the projects will be paid in accordance with successful completion of milestones and as negotiated by the parties. Where circumstances necessitate it is possible for a small payment to be made upon execution of the agreement and in accordance with Defence procurement rules.