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Containerised Data Centre (CDC) construction

The start of the Containerised Data Centre’s (CDC) construction marks another key milestone

D+I Newsroom

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The latest piece of equipment for the Middle East region (MER) Communications and Information System (CIS) Upgrade Program has arrived at Australia’s main operating base in the Middle East.

The start of the Containerised Data Centre’s (CDC) construction marks another key milestone in Force Installation Team 31’s (FIT 31) progress refitting Australia’s CIS systems in the MER.

The CDC is a state-of-the-art deployable, modular data storage and processing facility, designed by Datapod, an Australian company specialising in CIS facilities built for harsh environments.

FIT 31 Team Leader Captain (CAPT) Ryan Pitt said the CDC formed one of the key pillars of the project at Camp Baird, Australia’s main operating base in the region.

“The CDC is a modular data centre which enables infrastructure support as a precursor to the delivery of the Enhanced Deployable Local Area Network (EDLAN),” he said.

“It’s all part of the MER CIS Upgrade Program, which will deliver a bespoke network throughout the MER.

“It’s like a tree with its roots spreading out.”

Despite being modular, the site for Containerised Data Centre (CDC) installation has been subject to extensive preparatory work carried out by the JTF633 Engineer Support Element (ESE) alongside FIT 31.

“This can only be done with the support from a number of enabling agencies, and will see the JTF633 personnel across the MER utilising a brand new infrastructure, which runs out of this high-speed data centre,” CAPT Pitt said.

The network design and development has been coordinated by the MER CIS Upgrade Program Management Office (PMO), in conjunction with Thales, CASG’s Joint Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence Systems Project Office (JC4ISPO) and a number of other agencies.

“The PMO has worked hand-in-hand with personnel from the Defence Communications Master Station Australia and the greater CIOG organisation for strategic support to the Wide and Base Area Network,” CAPT Pitt said.

“To procure all of the EDLAN equipment, they also worked extensively with JC4ISPO and Thales.

“Throughout the whole program we have been liaising with the Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) Signals Branch and the Head of ICT Operations (HICTO) to ensure everything is on track.”

Building a custom-designed facility which can be transported by either air or sea offers its own advantages over a traditional fixed data centre, but presents its own challenges as well.

The data centre is able to be moved by tactical aircraft, like a C-17 Globemaster, so everything in the containers needed to be reinforced to prevent movement during flight.

“Getting the certification for air transportability was a huge effort for us,” Datapod’s Services Manager for the project, Richard Blundell, said.

“This is the first build we have flown, so we had to remove all of the cabling and brace all of the cabinets before it went on the plane,” Mr Blundell said.

“Once you put some fairly heavy cabinets and uninterruptible power supplies in a container, any movement can cause some significant damage.

“We used a fairly substantial amount of steel framing to make sure everything was braced inside of the container.”

The multi-million dollar CDC project has not only taken Datapod outside of Australia for the first time, but according to Mr Blundell, presents “a huge opportunity for an Australian business”.

“For an Australian company to get a gig like this with Defence is huge,” he said.

“It’s not the first project we’ve done for Defence and I think they’ve seen that we are a company who can get in and get the job done as the requirements dictate.

“We’re pretty adaptive and agile in the way we get things done, so if there are slight modifications which need to be made, we’ll take them on board and use them to develop our product for other clients.”

For the CDC project, there was 95 tonnes of equipment flown into the Middle East.

According to CAPT Pitt, that amount of equipment would have taken more than 10 C-17 Globemasters to move into theatre.

So why not use something a bit bigger?

“The Antonov 124 is one of the largest aircraft in the world, second only to the Antonov 225,” CAPT Pitt said.

“HQJOC, the PMO and JC4ISPO, along with the Middle East Joint Movements Control Office, worked an absolute wonder to get that plane on board for the project.

“They managed to fit the entire load of equipment onto it.”

Senior Program representatives, including HICTO, were on site at Australia’s main operating base in the MER to witness the early stages of CDC build and meet with members of the specialist installation team.

“Through speaking with both local commanders and FIT 31 members throughout the visit, representatives of a number of stakeholders were provided with a comprehensive update of the operational challenges of the project.

At the completion of the CDC, FIT 31 will move onto setting up the Deployable KU/X Band Earth Terminal satellites at Camp Baird, as well as conduct a number of installations across the MER.

The new satellite terminals make use of Australia’s investment in the WGS constellation.

Each of the dishes being installed at Camp Baird measure 6.3m across, larger than any other deployable satellite currently in use within Defence.

By Corporal Sebastian Beurich

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.

Technology

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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