Underwater recovery team takes the Challenge

Innovative new maritime research at Tonsley is diving in to take the Challenge.

A team of researchers at the Centre for Maritime Engineering, Control and Imaging (CMECI) at Flinders has won the inaugural Fincantieri-Flinders-CETENA Maritime Innovation Challenge.

The successful project, announced today at an Adelaide ceremony attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy the Hon Angelino Alfano, will receive $310,000 from Fincantieri Australia to further the research at Flinders University.

The Maritime Innovation Challenge was pioneered by global shipbuilder Fincantieri in collaboration with Italian research company CETENA and Flinders University to foster international research collaboration among the world’s finest engineering minds and help advance Australia’s sovereign defence capability.

The project will develop the University’s expertise in autonomous underwater vehicles by investigating new ways to launch and recover the autonomous vessel without the need for human involvement. The new technology will help to develop a system to launch and recover unmanned rescue vessels in open seas around the world.

The development of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for maritime surveying and surveillance is a growth area particularly in the mineral exploration, fisheries, marine engineering and military defence sectors.

The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon Angelino Alfano, left, with Flinders University Chancellor Mr Stephen Gerlach AM, Associate Professor Karl Sammut, Fincantieri Chairman Mr Giampiero Massolo and Flinders University Vice-President Professor Colin Stirling at the launch of the Maritime Innovation Challenge. Photo Russell Millard Photography.

This area of research is largely untapped in Australia and yet offers much scope for multi-disciplinary research.

Flinders Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling thanked Fincantieri and CETENA for their investment in the University’s research and for “the opportunity to leverage the significant talent of our maritime scientists and engineers on a global stage”.

“The Challenge has also given Flinders the chance to take its world-class innovations in naval shipbuilding and defence to a global market through Fincantieri, and make an impact on a rapidly evolving sector.”

The Maritime Innovation Challenge, announced at the Pacific 2017 International Maritime Exposition in Sydney in October, attracted a range of high quality submissions from Flinders University researchers.

Competition for first place was tight, with research proposals at the College of Science and Engineering spanning a number of priority areas in maritime innovation including maritime manufacturing and materials science and technology.

Lead researcher of the winning project, Associate Professor Karl Sammut, Director of the Centre for Maritime Engineering, Control and Imaging at Flinders at Tonsley, says that the funding received from the Maritime Innovation Challenge will allow his research team to further develop a new intelligent guidance system for AUVs that may have applications across the naval, research and commercial sectors.

The winning project team will collaborate with researchers from the University of Genoa, further strengthening the synergy between Australian and Italian maritime researchers.

The Maritime Innovation Challenge also builds on a pre-established relationship between Flinders University and Fincantieri, through which several Flinders students have already undertaken internships with Fincantieri in Genoa and Trieste, Italy.

The latest initiative takes this relationship to a new level of commitment and collaboration.

“Fincantieri is delighted to support growth and innovation in the maritime industry by providing Flinders University with a platform to apply its exceptional research to the naval challenges of the future,” says Fincantieri Australia chairman Mr Dario Deste.

“The Maritime Innovation Challenge builds on the productive relationship that Fincantieri enjoys with Flinders University and provides a fresh platform for us to work together on developing maritime capability by addressing the technological and environmental challenges we face.

“Fincantieri is very committed to fostering Australian originated research in all aspects of marine technology and helping to build an adaptive and responsive innovation ecosystem ecosystem which produces tangible results for all involved,” Mr Deste says.


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