Thales has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Flinders University in South Australia and ENSTA Bretagne in Brest, France, to provide support to the Australian Future Submarine programme.
The agreement relates to a planned research collaboration between Australia and France, which is expected to help the advancement of upgraded sonar and naval robotics technology.
ENSTA Bretagne director Pascal Pinot said: “The MoU was built in order to lead to tangible research work between us in the short term, particularly in the field of underwater robotics.
“It builds on the strength of all three participants in the framework of the increasing bilateral defence cooperation.”
The researchers are expected to design a demonstrator for the automatic connection of electro-optical links in a maritime environment as part of the initiative, in addition to engaging in the development of unmanned surface vehicles (USV) test systems that would be suitable for testing autonomy algorithms on robotic swarms at sea.
ENSTA Bretagne director Pascal Pinot noted that the latest agreement was a necessary step in the commencement of new research projects between Flinders University, ENSTA Bretagne and Thales.
The new initiatives are intended to help strengthen cooperation between the Australian and French defence ministries.
Thales Australia chief executive officer Chris Jenkins said: “This is all about attracting the best and brightest in both Australia and France to work on the challenges of the future submarine programme, ensuring Australia gets the best capability.
“The MoU provides a long-term framework for collaboration in naval robotics applicable to both submarine and surface ship sonars, including opportunities to share testing facilities, operate exchange programmes and facilitate joint research projects.
“It builds on an already-strong relationship between Thales and Flinders University in Australia, as well as between ENSTA Bretagne and Thales in Brest, France.”