AIMS Granted Nation’s First Permit-Free Marine Tech Testing Status
For the first time in Australia, autonomous marine technology developers have a location to safely test autonomous vessels without needing to apply for a permit.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science’s ReefWorks inshore test range, near Townsville in north Queensland, was granted regulatory sandbox approval for uncrewed vessels from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
It’s the first approval issued under a proposed Australian Maritime Regulatory Sandbox advocated by Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS), AIMS and AMC Search.
The five-year agreement allows for permit-free testing and evaluation of vessels up to 12m in length, travelling up to 20 knots within the test range.
ReefWorks Project Director Melanie Olsen said the status removed a time-consuming hurdle and uncertainty for developers and helped clear the path to development for Australia’s fledgling autonomous marine technology sector.
“For the first time in Australia there is a place where individual developers can go without having to first secure a permit,” she said.
“It eliminates a significant amount of red tape as well as the expensive possibility of not securing a permit in time for a planned trial.
“It will also allow ReefWorks to share the lessons we learn with regulators to help reduce risk and drive legislative changes.”
AIMS is working closely with TAS to remove the barriers slowing development of Australia’s autonomous marine technology industry.
Autonomous Vessels Wam-V and Indigo at the Trusted Autonomous Systems Maritime Showcase. Image: Jo Hurford copyright: AIMS
In September, ReefWorks hosted a TAS event which put autonomous vessels through their paces to test a newly published Australian code of practice aimed at bridging the gap between existing maritime safety standards and the advent of crewless vessels in Australia.
Ms Olsen said AIMS was also developing a suite of autonomous marine monitoring technology to provide more comprehensive knowledge, faster, to inform sustainable management of Australia’s changing tropical marine environment.
ReefWorks opened its doors to industry, Defense, and academic innovators in 2022, with support from the Queensland Government, to provide one of the world’s first tropical water marine technology test ranges.