University consortium awarded $3m funding to develop next gen autonomous vehicles inspired by nature

Image of autonomous vehicle
The autonomous capabilities of these next generation vehicles will be bio-inspired to mimic human or animal movement.

The University of Melbourne is leading an Australian research consortium alongside US institutions Boston University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop the next generation of autonomous vehicles.

A team of electrical and biomedical engineers from the University of Melbourne, led by Chief Investigator Professor Girish Nair, welcomed the $3 million funding announcement from the Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price.

The autonomous capabilities of these next generation vehicles will be bio-inspired to mimic human or animal movement. This will better allow these vehicles to automatically navigate through uncertain and changing scenarios without GPS or human intervention.

Announced by Minister Price on Wednesday, this funding will be delivered over three years to increase autonomous capabilities as a key priority for the Department of Defence due to the significant safety and efficiency benefits.

The funding will further the University’s collaboration with partners from Macquarie University, Queensland University of Technology and the University of New South Wales.

University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jim McCluskey congratulated the group.

“Their research will allow personnel to better predict the activity and patterns of autonomous vehicles as they relate to human and animal movement. Adaptability is at the forefront of this design.”

Professor Nair said: “To help deliver this next generation technology, our team will build on state-of-the-art techniques in automatic control, neuro-engineering, robotics and signal processing. We look forward to bringing a suite of new biomedical and engineering insights into the principles of navigation, spatial awareness and perception in animals and machines.”

The funding was awarded under the AUSMURI program, a sister program to the US Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI). AUSMURI supports Australian universities which are part of successful bids in the US MURI process.

Further information regarding the Next Generation Technologies fund is available at dst.defence.gov.au/nextgentechfund