Bi-Modal Unmanned System

Location: Melbourne, VIC

Duration: 4 months

Proposed start date: ASAP

Please Note:

  • Due to funding requirements, students must have Australian or New Zealand Citizenship or Permanent Residency to apply. Any applicants not meeting this requirement will automatically be deemed ineligible for this project.
  • This internship has an assigned Academic Mentor and is exclusive to PhD students at RMIT. Any applicants not meeting this requirement will automatically be deemed ineligible for this project.
  • This research internship is funded in partnership with Defence Science Institute.

Project Background

Current unmanned systems are restricted to operate in one medium only. There is a need for a bi-modal system that can operate in the two mediums and three layers of a maritime environment. Air and water, with capabilities in the latter for surface and subsurface operations. Operational concepts could include targeted littoral surveillance, target verification and designation, and telecommunication relay platforms. Bi-modal technology would enable stealthy return operations from remote surface and subsurface combatants. Technology would enable rapidly deployable containerised launch systems with water recovery systems for both surface and subsurface launch platforms.

Design of a vehicle that can operate underwater and in air is a significant engineering challenge as both environments have different requirements for propulsion, navigation, guidance and control. Secondly, the transition from water to air and vice versa is also a significant challenge to make a quick and covert transition in high sea states.

RMIT University has received a seed grant for translational research to investigate a proof of concept design. This design is based on water jet using compressed air to exit the water and a dive return into the water after mission completion. Successful tests have been conducted and a complete vehicle has been built.

The vehicle development now needs to be progressed to the next TRL level and adapted for operations in a defence environment.

Research to be Conducted

The internship will be used to conduct the necessary research to develop a Defence Capability Brief towards an application for the Defence Innovation Hub Program under the Advanced maritime airborne sensors and networking and Undersea sensors and networking priorities.
The objectives of this internship are:

  1. Identify and understand defence needs for submarine capability in extended-range surveillance (land and sea), telecommunication and target designation using a bi-model unmanned system.
  2. Identify the design requirements for a bi-model unmanned system to achieve the defence capability needs (see item 1).
  3. Prepare a project management plan that outlines the best process for system development, including costing, risks and timelines.

Skills Required

  • Aerospace and Maritime Systems Design
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Guidance, Navigation and Control
  • Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
  • Systems Engineering
  • Sensor Integration and Data Processing

The nature of the proposed research is highly sensitive given it relates to anti-submarine warfare and any product, research output or concept of operations generated from it will be covered as “Technology” under the Defence Strategic Goods List. It would therefore be Australian Export Controlled or FOUO, and will require researchers to meet Australian citizenship and physical and IT security requirements.

Expected Outcomes

The expected outcome of the internship will be a detailed project management plan that will form the basis for an application to the Defence Innovation Hub Program for detailed development of capability demonstrator vehicles and supporting a maritime trial.

Application to Defence 

Simulation and Modelling

  • Intelligent systems, artificial intelligence and human behaviour modelling
  • Virtual and augmented reality
  • Defence systems modelling
  • Computational modelling and complex systems and environments

Propulsion and Energy Storage

  • Submarine propulsion system integration, dynamics and control
  • Air vehicle system integration, dynamics and control

Surveillance and Autonomy

  • Information & sensor fusion
  • Geospatial intelligence
  • Data mining & machine learning
  • Decision support & situation awareness

Additional Details

The intern will receive $3,000 per month of the internship, usually in the form of stipend payments.

It is expected that the intern will primarily undertake this research project during regular business hours, spending at least 80% of their time on-site with the industry partner.  The intern will be expected to maintain contact with their academic mentor throughout the internship either through face-to-face or phone meetings as appropriate.

The intern and their academic mentor will have the opportunity to negotiate the project’s scope, milestones and timeline during the project planning stage.

Applications Close

2 October 2019


APR – 1161