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Technologies made for war

Rebecca Merrett | May 30, 2014
Autonomous systems considered the 'next big thing' in defence technology

"But we will still have a need to do some things in special ways. For example, deep analytics and the mathematical modelling that we have people doing will still need to be done and this will require very specialised software and infrastructure."

Another initiative at Customs is expanding its SmartGate self-processing technology for arrivals currently in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US and UK. Noble says she wants to increase the language capabilities of SmartGate so that it can be deployed in several Asian countries.

"What that means is Customs officers can be behind the line working with passengers in the baggage section, moving around and getting a better sense of what's going on to pick up on people who might be doing things they shouldn't," she says.

Wearable defence
DSTO's Alex Zelinsky says just about any equipment that a soldier wears has some form of embedded computing, can communicate with another system, or uses GPS and location tracking.

An area currently being investigated and about 5-10 years away from being widespread is exoskeletons. These are used to increase the endurance and strength of war fighters, and are robotic pieces of equipment strapped to parts of a soldier's body.

"They are like human amplifiers, so you would wear an exoskeleton, for instance, around your legs to walk further and faster than you would normally. Or you can use an exoskeleton to lift heavy things that you wouldn't be able to physically by yourself."

A wearable robot exoskeleton suit. Image courtesy of Ekso Bionics.

Zelinsky is now looking at how wearable defence equipment could be used to send information back to a base when a soldier needs medical assistance, needs to refuel or needs more weaponry, for instance.

Custom's CTO, Randall Brugeaud, is also looking into using wearable technology for officers who work behind primary lines at airports to record and collect biometric information that might be of interest.

"Tried and true consumer technologies such as GoPro cameras are where we see real benefits, particularly for our deployed officers," he says. "Being able to feed real-time intelligence information out to our officers based on biometric information captured by the wearable device will offer incredible opportunities."


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