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Fellowship extends scope of AI PhD research

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Fletcher Thompson receiving the award from Greg Hellessey.

Australian Maritime College PhD student Fletcher Thompson has been awarded a $14,000 fellowship from the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMarEST) to extend his research into marine robot artificial intelligence.

The Laurie Prandolini Research Fellowship is awarded annually to a piece of marine or maritime research in Australia, New Zealand or the South Pacific that demonstrates outstanding potential.

Fletcher’s research aims to build an artificial intelligence that enables marine robots to work together — and assign themselves tasks — autonomously.

Fleets with such an ability to contribute to collective tasks could carry out more complex work than individual vehicles. Potential applications include environmental monitoring, monitoring and maintenance of subsea systems, and search and rescue standby.

Fletcher said the funding will enable him to carry out experiments that will demonstrate his research in the real world.  

This fellowship is such an exciting injection for my research – suddenly, much more is possible.

“This fellowship is such an exciting injection for my research – suddenly, much more is possible.

“It will fund the equipment needed for physical experiments, including high performance 3D image processing systems, laser scanning modules and high resolution mono and stereo camera units.

“These physical experiments will extend my research, building on my existing computer-based modelling and bringing the results into the real world.”

Greg Hellessey from IMAREST said that Fletcher’s research was chosen because of its global potential.

“Out of all the applications from across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, Fletcher’s was an absolute stand-out in that it was clear it would be ground-breaking work at a national and international level. His work here is pushing into new ground in the maritime sphere around the world.”

Out of all the applications from across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, Fletcher’s was an absolute stand-out.

Having received his award from Mr Hellessey in a presentation at the Australian Maritime College this week, Fletcher will soon travel to the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) to begin experiments in collaboration with researchers there.

Published on: 02 Jun 2017