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Australian success in space with Biarri-Point GPS Cube-Satellite

Australian success in space with World first GPS Cube-Satellite

D+I Newsroom

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Australian Success in Space as Defence delivers World first GPS Cube-Satellite

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, today announced another Australian success in space, following the launch of the Biarri-Point cube satellite.

Biarri-Point is a satellite developed by the United States, which as part of its payload has GPS technology developed by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney in partnership with Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group.

The Biarri-Point satellite, launched in April 2017 to the International Space Station, was recently deployed from the space station’s Nano Racks into its own orbit, signifying a terrific milestone.

Minister Pyne said it carried the Namaru GPS technology, which is the first fully Australian and New Zealand developed global positioning system (GPS) payload for a cube-satellite.

“The Namuru GPS technology is on-orbit and is successfully functioning correctly providing significant research benefits,” Minister Pyne said.

“It is conducting a range of experiments aimed at increasing our understanding of outer atmospheric effects on small satellites and improving our situational awareness of space.”

The GPS payload was developed by the University of New South Wales in Sydney and the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research, and the mission integration was organised by the Defence Science and Technology Group.

Minister Pyne said the successful on-orbit operation of the miniaturised GPS marks another point on Australia’s path of technological innovation in the growing space industry.

“The research and development program will help support industry jobs around the nation and in universities,” he said.

“The 2016 Defence White Paper highlights the importance of space-based systems for information gathering, communications, navigation and surveillance for all ADF and coalition operations.

“Advances in small low cost space platforms provide a unique opportunity to support Australian Defence Force capabilities and to rejuvenate Australian space research,” he said.

This satellite milestone comes as the Turnbull Government recently announced a review in Australia’s space industry capability, leading to a national strategy for the sector that reflects Australia’s national interests over the next decade, and aligns with Australian Government priorities, including Defence.

“The Government’s $1.6 billion investment in defence industry and innovation programs over the next decade will ensure that we invest in the industry we need to support our defence capability requirements and transition world leading Australian research, development and innovation into practical defence capability,” Minister Pyne said.

The Defence Innovation System consisting of the Next Generation Technologies Fund and the Defence Innovation Hub is designed assist in developing innovative technology and ideas to support Defence capability.  It seeks proposals aligned with the six key capability streams identified in the Integrated Investment Program, which include space.

“The Centre for Defence Industry Capability launched on 5 December 2016 is also focused on building the capability of Australian Small to Medium Enterprises to be positioned to support Defence’s capability requirements, including supporting our space-based capability needs,” Minister Pyne said.

For more information on Defence’s industry support programs, visit www.business.gov.au/cdic.

Defence.com.au and D + I Magazine has a dedicated news desk within the 24/7 Cyber Newsroom. We're now able to publish news as it comes to hand, anytime day or night.

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United Nations urged to ban lethal autonomous weapons

World’s top AI and robotics companies have urged the United Nations to ban lethal autonomous weapons – Killer Robots.

Terry Turner

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The World’s top AI and robotics companies have urged the United Nations to ban lethal autonomous weapons, also being referred to as Killer Robots.

Open letter by leaders of leading robotics & AI companies is launched at the world’s biggest artificial intelligence conference as UN delays meeting till later this year to discuss the robot arms race

An open letter signed by 116 founders of robotics and artificial intelligence companies from 26 countriesurges the United Nations to urgently address the challenge of lethal autonomous weapons (often called ‘killer robots’) and ban their use internationally.

A key organiser of the letter, Toby Walsh, Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, released it at the opening of the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2017) in Melbourne, the world’s pre-eminent gathering of top experts in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. Walsh is a member of the IJCAI 2017’s conference committee.

The open letter is the first time that AI and robotics companies have taken a joint stance on the issue. Previously, only a single company, Canada’s Clearpath Robotics, had formally called for a ban on lethal autonomous weapons.

In December 2016, 123 member nations of the UN’s Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons unanimously agreed to begin formal discussions on autonomous weapons. Of these, 19 have already called for an outright ban.

“Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare,” the letter states. “Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend.

“These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close,” it states, concluding with an urgent plea for the UN “to find a way to protect us all from these dangers.”

Signatories of the 2017 letter include:

  • Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, SpaceX and OpenAI (USA)
  • Mustafa Suleyman, founder and Head of Applied AI at Google’s DeepMind (UK)
  • Esben Østergaard, founder & CTO of Universal Robotics (Denmark)
  • Jerome Monceaux, founder of Aldebaran Robotics, makers of Nao and Pepper robots (France)
  • Jü rgen Schmidhuber, leading deep learning expert and founder of Nnaisense (Switzerland)
  • Yoshua Bengio, leading deep learning expert and founder of Element AI (Canada)

Their companies employ tens of thousands of researchers, roboticists and engineers, are worth billions of dollars and cover the globe from North to South, East to West: Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, UK, United Arab Emirates and USA.

Walsh is one of the organisers of the 2017 letter, as well as an earlier letter released in 2015 at the IJCAI conference in Buenos Aires, which warned of the dangers of autonomous weapons. The 2015 letter was signed by thousands of researchers in AI and robotics working in universities and research labs around the world, and was endorsed by British physicist Stephen Hawking, Apple  Co-founder Steve Wozniak and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky, among others.

“Nearly every technology can be used for good and bad, and artificial intelligence is no different,” said Walsh. “It can help tackle many of the pressing problems facing society today: inequality and poverty, the challenges posed by climate change and the ongoing global financial crisis. However, the same technology can also be used in autonomous weapons to industrialise war.

“We need to make decisions today choosing which of these futures we want. I strongly support the call by many humanitarian and other organisations for an UN ban on such weapons, similar to bans on chemical and other weapons,” he added.

“Two years ago at this same conference, we released an open letter signed by thousands of researchers working in AI and robotics calling for such a ban. This helped push this issue up the agenda at the United Nations and begin formal talks. I am hopeful that this new letter, adding the support of the AI and robotics industry, will add urgency to the discussions at the UN that should have started today.”

“The number of prominent companies and individuals who have signed this letter reinforces our warning that this is not a hypothetical scenario, but a very real, very pressing concern which needs immediate action,” said Ryan Gariepy, founder & CTO of Clearpath Robotics, who was the first to sign.

“We should not lose sight of the fact that, unlike other potential manifestations of AI which still remain in the realm of science fiction, autonomous weapons systems are on the cusp of development right now and have a very real potential to cause significant harm to innocent people along with global instability,” he added. “The development of lethal autonomous weapons systems is unwise, unethical and should be banned on an international scale.”

Yoshua Bengio, founder of Element AI and a leading ‘deep learning’ expert, said: “I signed the open letter because the use of AI in autonomous weapons hurts my sense of ethics, would be likely to lead to a very dangerous escalation, because it would hurt the further development of AI’s good applications, and because it is a matter that needs to be handled by the international community, similarly to what has been done in the past for some other morally wrong weapons (biological, chemical, nuclear).”

Stuart Russell, founder and Vice-President of Bayesian Logic, agreed: “Unless people want to see new weapons of mass destruction – in the form of vast swarms of lethal microdrones – spreading around the world, it’s imperative to step up and support the United Nations’ efforts to create a treaty banning lethal autonomous weapons. This is vital for national and international security.”

BACKGROUND

The International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) is the world’s leading conference on artificial intelligence. It has been held every two years since 1969, and annually since 2015. It attracts around 2,000 of the best researchers working in AI from around the world. IJCAI 2017 is currently being held in Melbourne, Australia.

Two years ago, at IJCAI 2015, more than 1,000 AI researchers released an open letter calling for a ban on lethal autonomous weapons. Signatories to this letter have now grown to over 17,000.

As part of Melbourne’s Festival of Artificial Intelligence, there will be a public panel on Wednesday 23 August, 5.30 to 7.00pm, entitled, ‘Killer robots: The end of war?’. The panel features Stuart Russel, Ugo Pagallo and Toby Walsh. This is part of AI Lounge, a conversation about artificial intelligence open to the public and media every night from 21 to 25 August 2017 (see http://tinyurl.com/ailounge)

Toby Walsh’s new book, It’s Alive!: Artificial Intelligence from the Logic Piano to Killer Robots, just published by Black Inc, covers the arguments for and against lethal autonomous weapons in detail.

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Defence - Ministerial Releases

SMALL BUSINESS HELPS BUILD NAVAL CAPABILITY

Research funding to pursue of innovative maritime Defence technologies

Terry Turner

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Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, today announced a new research partnership to pursue innovative maritime Defence technologies.

Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group and Sonartech Atlas signed a three-year agreement today for research and development in Australian Defence Force (ADF) Naval capability for ships and submarines.

Minister Pyne welcomed this new partnership with Sonartech Atlas, signed in Adelaide as part of DST Group’s annual Partnerships Week.

“Partnering with small and medium enterprises is essential for building and maintaining Defence capability and enhancing Australia’s Defence industry,” Minister Pyne said.

“Under the new agreement, Sonartech Atlas and DST Group will explore new technologies to help build the ADF’s Naval capability in short time signal analysis, on-board signature management systems and multi-sensor detection, tracking and data fusion.

“This agreement will accelerate the transfer and commercialisation of these innovative technologies and contribute to building an Indigenous Defence industry that can meet the unique capability needs of the ADF.”

Sonartech Atlas is an Australian based systems engineering company specialising in the design and development of sonar systems for naval and civilian applications.

Partnerships Week is an annual external engagement event open to invited representatives from industry, academia, research agencies, Defence and stakeholders from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics community.

DST Group also leads the $730 million Next Generation Technologies Fund which complements the Defence Innovation Hub launched last year, as the core of the new Defence Innovation System outlined in the Defence Industry Policy Statement.

These two signature innovation research and development programs, together with the Centre for Defence Industry Capability, deliver on the Government’s $1.6 billion commitment to grow Australia’s defence industry and innovation sector.

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Defence - Ministerial Releases

NEW RESEARCH TO PROTECT DEFENCE AIRCRAFT

A big step towards improving the countermeasures deployed to protect our aircraft

Terry Turner

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Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, today announced a new research agreement with industry to explore innovative technologies for protecting Australian Defence Force aircraft against missile threats.

Minister Pyne said this five-year agreement with Chemring Australia was signed in Adelaide today as part of the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group Partnerships Week, and was a big step towards improving the countermeasures deployed to protect our aircraft.

“Chemring Australia and DST Group will explore capabilities and advanced techniques for the manufacture of high-performance countermeasures that hide aircraft from radar detection and deflect heat-seeking missiles,” Minister Pyne said.

“The research will also examine the use of more efficient manufacturing technologies, such as resonant acoustic mixing, and novel concepts for pyrotechnic device.

“This partnership will allow the development of an advanced flare capability to provide protection against increasingly sophisticated missile systems.

“I welcome these agreements which are designed to give Defence a capability edge. Chemring Australia specialises in the manufacture of countermeasures, sensors, and energetic systems.”

Partnerships Week is an annual external engagement event open to invited representatives from industry, academia, research agencies, Defence and stakeholders from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics community.

DST Group also leads the $730 million Next Generation Technologies Fund which complements the Defence Innovation Hub launched last year, as the core of the new Defence Innovation System outlined in the Defence Industry Policy Statement.

These two signature innovation research and development programs, together with the Centre for Defence Industry Capability, deliver on the Government’s $1.6 billion commitment to grow Australia’s defence industry and innovation sector.

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