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Business Bulletin, 19 Nov 2021

By Leo D’Angelo Fisher

© Commonwealth of Australia 2020

Top stories:

  • Autonomous truck project passes major milestone

  • Artificial intelligence focus of latest Defence Innovation Hub contracts

  • NIOA opens $11 million Brisbane facility

Autonomous truck project passes major milestone

A $3.5 million Australian Army project to develop a convoy of autonomous trucks that use technology to follow the leader has successfully completed a series of road trials.

The autonomous leader-follower vehicle technology, using modified Land 121 40M cargo trucks, was developed under a contract between the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) at Deakin University and Army’s Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation and Coordination Office (RICO).

The trials took place over a two-week period at Defence’s Trials and Proving establishment at Monegeetta, Victoria, and involved a five-vehicle convoy.

The autonomous truck project is part of Army’s Robotic and Autonomous Systems Strategy. The development of robotic and autonomous systems is considered a vital component of meeting future operational challenges, including for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as in combat operations.

Video of the trial can be found at


Artificial intelligence focus of latest Defence Innovation Hub contracts

Ten diverse businesses, from electronic warfare technology companies to education and training specialists, have been awarded Defence Innovation Hub contracts to develop technology that will strengthen Australian military capability in artificial intelligence (AI).

The biggest contract goes to Adelaide military technology company Simbiant which has been awarded a $2.2 million project to develop an AI-based radio frequency generation, detection, characterisation and classification system.

Adelaide education and training company Lumination has been awarded a $1.9 million contract to develop an “immersive visualisation platform” using virtual reality and training simulation technology to create realistic training scenarios.

Another South Australian company, Solinnov, which specialises in signal processing technology, has been awarded a $1.4 million contract to develop a portable radio frequency monitoring system through the development of machine learning technology to identify, classify and locate radio frequency emitters in complex operating environments.

Sydney-based machine learning specialist CruxML was awarded a $946,000 contract to develop a real-time Specific Emitter Identification system using advanced machine learning algorithms to achieve identification and classification of radio frequency signals in real time.

ASX-listed Sydney security systems developer DroneShield has received a $945,000 contract to develop software to detect, track, classify and relay unknown contact signals from multiple feeds and provide a combined output directly to the operator.

Melbourne virtual and augmented reality production company Ignition Immersive has been awarded a $914,000 contract to develop a training simulator that generates real-time photorealistic imagery in a virtual reality environment.

If successful, the system could adjust the difficulty of medical scenarios by measuring the stress response of trainees.

Other Defence Innovation Hub recipients include digital training systems company CAE Australia (a $644,000 contract to develop a deployable augmented reality 3D virtual modelling tool to assist with AI-enabled decision support); software developer Cirrus Real Time Processing Systems ($464,000 contract to develop an easily deployable Electronic Support Measure system that enables Sensor Association Fusion Engine technology to form a common operating picture from multiple sensors.); simulation-based training company Real Response ($669,000 contract to develop a medical training simulator using AI that could enhance training and learning by adjusting the complexity of training scenarios based on visual and biometric feedback from the trainee); and electronic warfare technology company Mellori Solutions ($920,000 contract to develop a software application to automate radio frequency analysis).

The Defence Innovation Hub invests in a range of technologies at different phases of maturity from the early concept stage to demonstration, prototyping and integration.

Industry and research organisations can submit proposals through the Defence Innovation Portal at


NIOA opens $11 million Brisbane facility

Weapon systems company NIOA has officially opened its new $11 million facility in the Brisbane suburb of Eagle Farm.

The facility houses NIOA’s corporate headquarters, warehouse and distribution centre and accommodates more than 100 employees, including project managers, weapons and munitions engineers and administration and operational staff.

NIOA is a privately owned supplier of firearms, weapons, ammunition and technical support to military, law enforcement and commercial markets.

NIOA CEO Robert Nioa says the new five-storey facility had added 1445 square metres of space, adjacent and connected to the existing 8000sqm facility in the Brisbane Airport precinct.

“Not only is it a significant moment in our near 50-year history but it also creates the best environment for our loyal employees and is a clear demonstration to all our customers of NIOA’s long-term commitment to delivering world-leading products and technologies,” Mr Nioa says.

NIOA is the prime contractor for Stage 1 of Tranche 1 of the LAND 159 Lethality Systems program.

LAND 159 will equip the Australian Defence Force with next-generation weapon systems, surveillance and target acquisitions ancillaries, ammunitions, facilities and training and support systems.

The Brisbane extension is part of a $130 million capital investment by NIOA which includes a $60 million artillery shell forging plant in Maryborough in Queensland with joint venture partner Rheinmetall Wafffe Munitions, a $13 million upgrade of the Australian government owned munitions plant at Benalla in Victoria and a $2 million refurbishment of its Canberra office.


Leo D'Angelo Fisher is a regular columnist and Editor-at-Large at Australian Veteran News. Connect with him on Twitter: @DAngeloFisher.

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