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Innovation in science and technology


Innovative and game-changing technologies developed by Defence Science and Technology Group researchers—designed to strengthen Defence capability and cyber security—gained national recognition and commercialisation success in 2016–17.

Darryn Smart from the Defence Science and Technology Group makes remarks after accepting a Public Sector Innovation Award during the Institute of Public Administration Australia award ceremony in Canberra, 27 July 2016.
Darryn Smart from the Defence Science and Technology Group makes remarks after accepting a Public Sector Innovation Award during the Institute of Public Administration Australia award ceremony in Canberra, 27 July 2016.

Darryn Smart, from the Cyber and Electronic Warfare Division, received the 2017 Clunies Ross Knowledge Commercialisation Award for developing systems to protect against improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Dr Brian Ferguson, from the Maritime Division, won the 2016 Minister’s Award for Achievement in Defence Science for his groundbreaking research in acoustics. And the Trustworthy Systems Team won South Australian and national iAwards for their multi-level computer security device.

Protection against improvised explosive devices

Under the Redwing program, Darryn Smart and his team developed two robust, lightweight systems that block the signals used to explode IEDs. The Greengum device is the world’s first effective personal protection device against IEDs and light enough to be worn by a soldier. The slightly larger Greygum device delivers the same protection when fitted to military vehicles.

The Greengum and Greygum devices are game-changers and another classic story of necessity leading to innovation. While Australian soldiers had a variety of force protection measures against IEDs in the Middle East area of operation, local security forces didn’t possess similar equipment.

By mid-2016, Australia had issued over 150,000 units of the Redwing equipment to the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces. Another 34,000 units will be supplied by late 2017.

The Redwing systems were developed by Defence and manufactured by Australian industry under project coordination by the Australian Military Sales Office. The companies involved were L3 Micreo, Ultra Electronics Australia, Associated Electronic Services, AXIOM Precision Manufacturing and Lintek.

Commercialisation of the Redwing systems has delivered Australian industry well over $60 million to date.

Acoustics and signal processing

In November 2016, Dr Brian Ferguson was given the Minister’s Award for Achievement in Defence Science for his world-leading research in acoustics and signal processing, which has contributed significantly to Defence capability by detecting, classifying and tracking targets of military interest.

Brian’s research has established a direct connection between acoustic signals and the course, speed and identity of ships, submarines, aircraft and projectiles. An acoustic system based on his studies accurately geolocated mortar fire from insurgents during Operation Iraqi Freedom and saved the lives of coalition forces and innocent civilians.

The winner of the 2016 Minister’s Award for Achievement in Defence Science, Dr Brian Ferguson, at Russell Offices, Canberra, on 10 November 2016.
The winner of the 2016 Minister’s Award for Achievement in Defence Science, Dr Brian Ferguson, at Russell Offices, Canberra, on 10 November 2016.

Brian’s new data processing techniques enable the Navy’s sonar operators to identify targets at significantly greater distances than before and allow submerged submarines to track aircraft flying overhead. His research has also improved safety in the Navy’s mine- hunting operations by delivering acoustic imagery for examining mine-like objects from safe distances.

Sonar technology in Australian and US submarines has been upgraded as a result of Brian’s research. The enhanced operational systems improve situational awareness and surveillance in conflict zones, but also protect our ports and harbours against threats.

Cyber security

A collaborative cyber security project between the Defence Science and Technology Group and CSIRO’s Data61 took out two categories at the 2017 national iAwards. The Cross Domain Desktop Compositor won awards for infrastructure platform of the year and research and development project of the year.

The equipment allows content from multiple computers of different security classifications to be viewed securely on a single screen.

The technology has potential applications in both government and industry where staff use multiple computers for accessing different networks to maintain information of various classifications at the same time.

Team leader Mark Beaumont said, ‘Our collaboration with Data61 has helped drive the technical development of the system, as well as position it for broader exposure and technology sales opportunities.’

Defence and Data61 are exploring opportunities to market the Cross Domain Desktop Compositor for applications across government and industry.

The advances in Defence science this year represent excellent case studies on the value of industry collaboration with flow-on benefits for commercial success.