Rheinmetall has been named a recipient of the Australian Government’s 5G Innovation Initiative, a competitive grants program to help small to large businesses in Australia test and develop 5G uses, applications, services and products, including Internet of Things applications, which will help build Australia's 5G ecosystem.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia Managing Director, Gary Stewart, said the grant was welcome support for the organisation’s autonomous vehicle technology utilising 5G and drone based communication relay systems.
“The Rheinmetall Advanced Firefighting Concept (AFC) program is an innovative Australian research enterprise to develop autonomous vehicles capable of fighting bushfires in extreme environments," Stewart said.
“The AFC is based on the German Army MARDER platform and aims to reduce the risk to frontline firefighters. This was developed in the aftermath of the 2019/20 bushfires.
“This ex-military vehicle has been transformed into a firefighting vehicle capable of traversing dangerous terrains to support rescue, path clearing and firefighting missions over distances in excess of 100 kilometres."
Stewart said that with the support of Telstra, Rheinmetall will use an Un-crewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to create a communications relay device to establish a 5G network to the remote firefighting vehicle.
“The UAV will be deployed from the Rheinmetall concept firefighting vehicle (MARDER) to support test and evaluation activities."
Rheinmetall has invested more than $10 million into advanced autonomous systems research and development with Australian research partners (CSIRO, DSTG, RMIT and QUT).
Stewart said the grant would provide a first time partnership between Rheinmetall and Telstra.
“Rheinmetall is pleased to be partnering with Telstra and is looking forward to commencing tests at MILVEHCOE, our state-of-the-art facility in South East Queensland,” he said.