The Australian Government has announced that its Defence Innovation Hub is allocating grants of $7.27m (A$10m) to support the development of new artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

The investment would expand the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) military capability and create skilled jobs in the defence industry.

It also supports the government’s new ‘Blueprint for Critical Technologies and Action Plan’, aimed at increasing economic opportunities of critical technologies and national security risk.

The technology blueprint was unveiled by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 17 November.

AI has been listed as one of the nine critical technologies of national interest by the government.

Australia Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has announced ten new Defence Innovation Hub contracts.

The contracts are funded under the two-year, $23.2m (A$32m) Covid-19 economic stimulus package.

Price said: “These contracts will help develop exciting and new AI technologies.

“This will be achieved through the use of defence’s intelligence mission data to improve situational awareness, and intelligent virtual reality to enhance simulation, modelling and training for our ADF personnel.

“Overall, these technologies have the potential to improve how our military train and operate.

“Attracting businesses from the AI sector to partner with defence is a positive step towards achieving this.”

South Australian-based firm Lumination is one among the ten awardees. It has been awarded a $1.38m (A$1.9m) contract to develop a visualisation platform using virtual reality (VR) and training simulation technology.

New South Wales company Droneshield received a A$945,000 contract to develop an agile software system that enables ADF personnel to focus on categorising unknown radio signals.

Furthermore, Victorian firm Real Response won a A$669,000 contract to develop a ‘highly realistic’ medical training simulator using AI.

Price added: “These contracts will boost Australian businesses and build a strong sovereign capability that can develop and integrate world-leading AI technology into Australia’s Defence Force.”