Research for better surveillance, submarine stealth

Collins Class submarine HMAS Waller.
Photo by ABPH Bill Louys, courtesy of the Department of Defence.

Collins Class submarine HMAS Waller.
Photo by ABPH Bill Louys, courtesy of the Department of Defence.

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Friday, 30 July 2010

University of Adelaide researchers are helping develop quieter diesel engine submarines and an image content search capability for improved surveillance and reconnaissance.

The two research projects have won funding under the Department of Defence's Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) Program, announced today by the Hon. Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Materiel and Science.

The University's School of Mechanical Engineering will receive $1,120,000 to develop an adaptive exhaust silencer to reduce the noise from the diesel engines used on submarines. The Australian Centre for Visual Technologies will receive $684,000 to develop technologies that will help Defence search vast available databases of video and still imagery.

The University of Adelaide is the only university to receive funding under the latest round of the CTD Program (Round 14), which is managed by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).

Director of the Australian Centre for Visual Technologies, Professor Anton van den Hengel, said the image search technology being developed was like "Google for images", allowing users to search for images, using images.

"Current search engines typically rely on associated text to identify images as they can't interpret the content of the image itself," said Professor Anton van den Hengel. "But having the right text is rare, making it impossible to find most images. Our technology means you can search for images of an object, just by showing it a similar picture, and it works for very large image databases.

"For example a database of satellite imagery could be searched automatically for a particular structure or object in seconds . Currently that would take months to achieve manually by Defence personnel."

School of Mechanical Engineering Senior Lecturer Dr Carl Howard said the exhaust silencer for use on diesel engine submarines being developed was a passive noise control system - not requiring the input of noise interference - and would therefore be very robust.

"The Collins Class submarines have three large diesel engines and it's a difficult engineering problem to hide these enormous power plants so that the submarine can remain undetected," Dr Howard said.

"The engineering acoustic problem faced is that standard exhaust silencers are designed with a compromise between the amount of noise reduction and the frequency range over which they are effective. The novel feature of this development is that it will provide high levels of noise reduction over a narrow frequency range, and it will automatically tune to the sound emitted by the diesel engine."


Contact Details

Dr Carl Howard
Senior Lecturer
School of Mechanical Engineering
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 3469 (direct line) or +61 8 8313 5460 (School)

Dr Anthony Dick
Deputy Director
Australian Centre for Visual Technologies
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5583
Mobile: +61 423 055 461

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814