International research lab coming to Adelaide
French scientific research organisation CNRS and maritime technology, shipbuilding and energy company Naval Group have signed a letter of intent with Flinders University, the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia to develop a proposal for one of only five industry-linked CNRS international joint laboratories in the world to be based in the city of Adelaide.
The undertaking was one number of significant defence-associated education and research commitments sealed last week in Canberra during the visit of French Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation Mme Frédérique Vidal.
Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling said the combined strength of three world-class universities located in South Australia, the defence state, makes Adelaide an ideal location for the laboratory.
“By drawing on the specific research fortes of each university we collectively provide an unrivalled capacity in advanced research,” Prof Stirling said.
“In Flinders’ case, it’s the exciting emerging technologies we’re leading in autonomous systems, such as unmanned vessels that can undertake often hazardous tasks independently of human control. We’re also actively contributing to research involving psychology and innovation.”
University of South Australia Vice Chancellor Prof David Lloyd said that the decision to create the joint laboratory is a visionary and very welcome initiative by the CNRS and Naval Group CEOs.
“This is a landmark opportunity to boost both Australian–French scientific cooperation and Australian sovereign technical capability in a range of key areas, including those that connect human factors with the physical aspects of maritime vehicles in novel ways,” Prof Lloyd said.
“The University of South Australia is delighted to contribute to the laboratory its unique world-leading expertise in an interdisciplinary combination of research relating to human solutions for complex environments, including psychophysiology and behaviour, metrics-based ergonomic design and virtual reality and augmented reality.”
University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor Prof Peter Rathjen said he welcomes further international collaboration with CNRS, Naval Group and industry.
“The intersection of autonomous systems, artificial intelligence and human factors is one of the key frontiers of research today — areas we are pursuing with vigour,” Prof Rathjen said.
“With our strong record in pure and applied research in the disciplines of human factors, AI and systems autonomy, the University of Adelaide understands that interdisciplinary research is a powerful means to enhance our contribution to human progress.”
Naval Group Vice President International R&D Cooperation François Duthoit welcomed the collaboration, saying, “We are committed to cultivating an innovation environment in Australia around our scientific, education and industrial community.
“The establishment of the laboratory is one of the key pillars of this commitment and will provide us with opportunities to collaborate with our Australian university and R&D partners in the areas of autonomous systems, human factors and artificial intelligence.”
Alongside academics from within the three South Australian universities, the joint laboratory will be able to draw on relevant expertise across CNRS’s 33,000 researchers as well as Naval Group experts.
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