MOU signed by Sydney Uni and Thales

Thales

The University of Sydney will work together with Thales Australia to explore new opportunities in the aerospace, defence, security and transportation fields.

In a memorandum of understanding (MOU), the University of Sydney and Thales Australia have committed to work closely together over the next five years to develop new technologies and capabilities. The MOU was signed by the University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence and Thales Australia Country Director and CEO Chris Jenkins.

“This is a significant milestone in the company’s history as we move to an enhanced relationship with the University of Sydney,” said Jenkins. “Thales Australia’s long-term relationship with the University has contributed to breakthrough technology in underwater sensing and Thales’s sovereign capability in fibre laser sensors.

“Recognising the pace of innovation, especially in digital technologies like big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence, it is critical for Thales to partner with leading universities.

“The future applications of these technologies will require a holistic and integrated response, moving beyond individual disciplines and creating the next generation of careers and technological and industrial capabilities.”

Dr Spence said the signing was a milestone that would see the University of Sydney’s researchers offered new opportunities to collaborate on transformational industry projects and Thales to obtain access to world-class research.

“We have made great gains in increasing our engagement with industry in 2017, which is a major priority in our 2016-20 Strategic Plan. Thales has a long and established track record of successful collaboration with a number of academic institutions around the world and we are proud to partner with them formally,” Spence said.

Under the terms of the MOU, the partners will initially work on research activities within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies, in the areas of autonomous systems, artificial intelligence, data analytics, advanced sensing and processing, and materials science.

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies Professor Archie Johnston said the MOU builds on a positive existing relationship between Thales and the faculty. This notably included a 2015 Australian Research Council Linkage Project between Thales and researchers from the University’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics, looking at new ways to increase the effectiveness of underwater survey operations.

“By collaborating, exchanging ideas and sharing best practice with Thales, our engineering and IT researchers will gain new ideas about how to translate their research into practical solutions for industry,” Johnston said.

Over the longer term, the partners also intend to explore other research, education and training pursuits which may include events, industry development programs and student mentoring opportunities.

“Australia has an opportunity to be a leader and to seed new industries of global relevance as IT, biological and advanced materials disciplines converge and become data-driven,” he said.

“Building on our national strengths in cyber-physical systems, interdisciplinary research is needed now more than ever to understand how we can integrate resulting new technologies into our lives for economic and societal benefit.

“The 3A Institute will be an important way for us to achieve this and move the nation forward. Data61 is delighted to be contributing talent and resources towards this collaboration as Founding Partner.”

Bell said there was a critical set of questions to be answered around autonomy, agency and assurance if the world is to meet challenges of future technology.

“We, as humans, are simultaneously terrified, optimistic and ultimately ambivalent about what it’s going to be like,” she said.

“How are we going to feel in a world where autonomous agents are doing things and we aren’t? How are we going to be safe in this world?

“We will be looking closely at risk, indemnity, privacy, trust – things that fall under this broad term ‘assurance’.”

Dean of the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science, Professor Elanor Huntington said the appointment of Professor Bell will ensure ANU is recognised for shaping the way the world respond to technological change.

“It’s tremendously exciting to be leading the development of such an important field of exploration,” Huntington said.

Huntington also welcomed the announcement that Bell will present the ABC’s 2017 Boyer Lectures. Each year since 1959, the lectures have sparked national discussion about critical ideas.