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Strategic robot JV boosted by WA prison trials success

A Strategic Elements subsidiary has successfully completed thousands of key tests at a WA prison facility with its Autonomous Security Vehicle technology, or “ASV” as part of its robotics JV with tech giant Honeywell. The companies plan to develop ASVs for the correctional sector with assistance from researchers and academics at the University of Western Australia.

News of the successful trial results sent Strategic Elements’ share price surging more than 20 per cent in early trades on Thursday with $2.5 million worth of stock changing hands.

Strategic Elements’ subsidiary, Stealth Technologies said its Stealth AxV Automation & Robotics Platform is developing a number of applications covering Autonomous Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear, or “CBRN” Agent Detection and Autonomous Mining in addition to ASV control systems.

The company said the success of its AxV during thousands of operational tests of the Perimeter Intrusion Detection Systems, or “PIDS” at a Western Australian prison facility was a world’s first.

PIDS are the first line of defence to deter, detect and delay intruders, prevent escapes and keep staff safe. Operational testing of PIDS is required multiple times a day and is currently only possible through physical interaction between prison guards and PIDS.

Whilst autonomously testing and patrolling the secure perimeter, Strategic said the ASV successfully fed hundreds of hours of mobile high-definition surveillance video to the prison’s control centre.

The ASV integrates seamlessly into a prison’s existing security control systems and can autonomously navigate pre-defined missions to test key PIDS. These include photo-electric beams, microphonic and fibre-optic fence sensors, buried electromagnetic cables and microwave beams. Patrol surveillance is provided by a military grade camera that provides 360-degree high-definition video.

Stealth Technologies has built a world first automation and robotics technology for the correctional sector to increase security, save costs and re-deploy staff away from mundane, repetitive tasks. It is satisfying that real world outcomes are starting to be reported that indicate the robustness and reliability of the ASV.

“I know that Stealth truly values the industry knowledge shared by the Honeywell team and the autonomous vehicle expertise of key professors and researchers at UWA”.

Strategic intends to run the ASV at a Western Australian prison until the end of the year and then conduct a full review and assessment of ASV missions conducted to date. Discussions on a commercial agreement between Stealth Technologies and Honeywell are continuing.

Strategic is hoping for good cheer in the new year in the form of federal funding from the Cooperative Research Centres Project. The company has applied for $750,000 to support a rollout of pilot ASV deployments to increase frequency, accuracy and reliability of mobile surveillance and perimeter security testing for critical infrastructure that underpins Australia’s economy.

The funding will assist in developing a second generation ASV – AxV Gen 2 – with onboard cameras, Light Detection and Ranging or “LIDAR”, sensors and drone capability targeted towards critical infrastructure.

The AxV is a result of collaboration with the Defence Science Technology Group, or “DSTG”, part of the Australian Department of Defence and UWA to build a world first, autonomous drone-carrying vehicle that automates detecting and sensing CBRN agents.

Murphy said multiple streams of work have been focused on further development of the AxV Gen 2 software and hardware stack. Expanded capabilities to support the CBRN project include sensor drivers, navigation modules and the mission control systems.

One leap forward has been achieved in the coordination of the overall CBRN search mission to include multiple ASVs and multiple drones autonomously operating within the same area. This gives greater operational efficiencies by covering a greater area, or the same area covered in a shorter space of time. It also provides an enhanced sensing ability as different drones can carry different sensors.

He said final design of the AxV Gen 2 is expected to be released in February 2022.

Autonomous mining is also on the Stealth Technologies’ radar. It has announced a phased pilot investigation with a global mining company operating what Stealth said were Tier 1, world-class assets.

Phase 1 of the trial involves the supply and installation of a Stealth Sensor Unit containing sensor fusion and computer vision technology from the Autonomous AxV platform. The Sensor Unit will capture mapping data of a portion of a mine’s underground environment to determine the potential suitability of a Stealth technology solution.

The developments in Strategic Elements’ ASV business comes soon after the company was granted a Japanese patent for its “Nanocube Memory Ink” technology. The battery ink technology can be used to produce self-charging battery cells through its wholly owned venture, Australian Advanced Materials.

The battery ink technology venture is a collaboration with the University of New South Wales with the institution boasting over a decade of experience in electronic inks, energy harvesting and storage.

Strategic Elements is looking to utilise its battery ink technology to produce small-footprint battery cells that can be printed on plastic. Remarkably, the battery cells can be powered solely by moisture from humidity in the air.

The key advantage of printed technology over traditional methods is the process allows for the manufacture of flexible, lightweight and thin electronic products for applications that are not possible with conventional silicon-based electronics.

Strategic Elements appears well down the path of achieving the long-sought technological elixir of being able to marry form and function. Robots guarding prisons and batteries being charged out of thin air would fit perfectly in a Jules Verne novel. What’s next is anyone’s guess…..

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@wanews.com.au

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