New underwater robot technology takes Flinders-Fincantieri partnership to the next level

A new Flinders University project that will enable autonomous underwater vehicles to launch and recover themselves without the need for human involvement

28th Nov 2017

New underwater robot technology takes Flinders-Fincantieri partnership to the next level


A new Flinders University project that will enable autonomous underwater vehicles to launch and recover themselves without the need for human involvement - designed to harness the research capability of a well-recognised institution with the knowledge and experience of one of the world’s largest shipbuilders - has won the inaugural Fincantieri-Flinders-CETENA Maritime InnovationChallenge.


The winning entry was announced today at an Adelaide ceremony attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, The Hon Angelino Alfano. The successful project will receive $310,000 from Fincantieri Australia to further their research.


The Maritime Innovation Challenge was pioneered by global shipbuilder Fincantieri in collaboration with Italian maritime research company CETENA and Flinders University to foster international research collaboration among the world’s finest engineering minds and help advance Australia’s sovereign defence capability.


The Challenge was officially launched at the Pacific 2017 International Maritime Exposition in Sydney in October this year and attracted a range of high quality submissions from Flinders University researchers.


Competition for first place was tight, with research proposals spanning a number of priority areas in maritime innovation including maritime manufacturing and materials science and technology.


Lead researcher of the winning project, Associate Professor Karl Sammut, says that the funding received from the Maritime InnovationChallenge will allow his research team to innovate a new intelligent guidance system for autonomous underwater vehicles that may have applications across the naval, research and commercial sectors.


The winning project team will collaborate with researchers from the University of Genoa, further strengthening the synergy between Australian and Italian maritime researchers.


The Maritime InnovationChallenge also builds on a pre-established relationship between Flinders University and Fincantieri, through which several Flinders students have already undertaken internships with Fincantieri in Genoa and Trieste, Italy.


The latest initiative takesthis relationship to a new level of commitment and collaboration, a move which was welcomed by Minister Alfano.


Quotes attributable to Fincantieri Australia Chairman, Mr Dario Deste


“Fincantieriis delighted to support growth and innovation in the maritime industry by providing Flinders University a platform to apply its exceptional research to the naval challenges of the future.


The Maritime Innovation Challenge builds on the productive relationship that Fincantieri enjoys with Flinders University and provides a fresh platform for us to work together on developing maritime capability by addressing the technological and environmental challenges we face.


Fincantieri is very committed to fostering Australian originated research in all aspects of marine technology and helping to build an adaptive and responsive innovation ecosystem ecosystem which produces tangible results for all involved.


We are very pleased with our relationship with Flinders so far and look forward to the progression of this important initiative.”



Quotes attributable to President and Vice-Chancellor of Flinders University, Professor Colin Stirling


“The quality of the submissions made to the Maritime Innovation Challenge have demonstrated the strength, capacity and global industry relevance of the naval research currently taking place at Flinders University. 


This research spans autonomous vessels for maritime surveying and mine detection to harnessing fibre-optic technology to detect noise and damage on ships.


The Challenge has also given Flinders the chance to take its world-class innovations in naval shipbuilding and defence to a global market through Fincantieri, and make an impact on a rapidly evolving sector.


We sincerely thank Fincantieri and CETENA for their investment in our research and the opportunity to leverage the significant talent of our maritime scientists and engineers on a global stage.”


Quotes attributable to President and Chief Executive Officer of CETENA, Mr Sandro Scarrone


“CETENA has a long history of working with leading research institutions and we are thrilled to have brought the Maritime Innovation Challenge to Flinders University and be able to collaborate with Flinders researchers and the University of Genoa on the winning project.

We were very impressed with the breadth and quality of the research proposals submitted to us, and we have enormous faith that the outcomes of our partnership with Flinders will prove to be game-changers in the world of maritime innovation.”



About Fincantieri


Fincantieri is one of the world’s largest shipbuilding groups and number one by diversification and innovation. It is a leader in cruise ship design and construction and a reference player in all high-tech shipbuilding industry sectors, from naval to offshore vessels, high-complexity special vessels and ferries to mega-yachts, and including ship repairs and conversions, systems and components production and after-sales services.

Headquartered in Trieste (Italy), the Group has built more than 7,000 vessels in more than 230 years of maritime history. With almost 19,400 employees, of whom more than 8,200 are in Italy and 20 shipyards in 4 continents, Fincantieri today is the leading Western shipbuilder. It has among its clients the major cruise operators, the Italian and the U.S. Navy, in addition to several foreign navies, and it is partner of some of the main European defence companies within supranational programs.

About Flinders University


Located in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia and one of the world’s most liveable cities, Flinders is aspiring to be among the world’s top universities, with a proud reputation for innovative research and excellence in teaching and learning. Flinders has 2,700 staff and 25,000 students, including some 4,000 international students from more than 100 countries.


Research strengths include defence, engineering, molecular science and technology, and water and environment and 90% of Flinders University’s research has been ranked at or above world standard by ERA (Excellence in Research Australia). Its high-tech innovation campus at Tonsley engages students with leading business enterprises, and is home to the Flinders New Venture Institute, a leader in entrepreneurship programs.


CETENA S.p.A. is a company within the Fincantieri Group dedicated to research and consultancy in the naval and maritime field. Since the foundation in 1962, CETENA has been involved in national and international research activities and has carried out research and consultancy and technical assistance for shipyards, shipowners, navies and universities, with a wide range activities on board, development of specific products, laboratory tests, transfer of technology and training activities in maritime field for civil and naval sectors.



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