Two Maynooth University research projects have been shortlisted for the SFI-Defence Organisation Innovation Challenge.
Under the challenge, ten selected research teams will collaborate with the Defence Forces and compete for funding to develop solutions to a number of challenges identified by the Defence Organisation that are of wider application to society.
Announced today (Thursday) by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister for Defence and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney TD, €2.4 million in funding will be available to develop solutions to challenges facing the Irish Defence Forces.
The two selected Maynooth University projects are:
- CoPilot-AI: Led by Prof Tim McCarthy and Prof John McDonald (Computer Science), the project will look at addressing the problem of wildfires.
Using Earth Observation and Artificial Intelligence technologies, this new system will be capable of providing real-time information to responders in the air and on the ground. The system will allow for the generation of useful information such as terrain, land-cover, weather, infrastructure, human activity - which can then be transmitted to responders, helping to direct crews to suitable water resources, identifying vulnerable humans, safe-guarding crops, livestock and infrastructure, to name a few examples of use.
- Smart Hangar: Led by Prof Rozenn Dahyot (Computer Science) and Dr Marco Cognetti (Electrical Engineering), the project will provide a cyber-physical system to assist in, or potentially automate, manoeuvring of aircraft between a hangar and apron.. The Smart Hangar system will develop a co-operative system that will allow a human controller and robot to work together to manoeuvre aircraft.
The selected teams for the competition will be awarded up to €220,000 and work through a series of stages to develop their ideas, to compete for an overall €1 million prize award that will enable them to continue development and explore deployment of their solution.
Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “This is a really exciting announcement. Today’s announcement shows the value of a partnership between our research community and the Defence Forces. The innovation on display can help address existing and future challenges within our Defence Forces.
“There is a myriad of innovative ideas and expertise from machine learning and virtual reality to data analytics, engineering, and robotics. Today, the ten projects will be awarded funding to initiate their projects and one will secure €1 million in funding.”
Congratulating the shortlisted teams, Minister Coveney said: “From the time we launched this Challenge last July, I believed that it would confront emerging issues within the Defence Forces head-on, through the collaboration of leading researchers with the talented people behind our Defence Forces. At EU level, the role of innovation and disruptive technologies in delivering next generation military capability is already well recognised. I am looking forward to seeing the results that this synergy of innovators and practitioners under this challenge will undoubtedly generate for the Defence Forces going forward.”
Commending the researchers, Prof Eeva Leinonen, President of Maynooth University stated, “Maynooth University highly values innovative research that focuses on solutions to address major societal challenges. The selection of two projects for the SFI-Defence Organisation Innovation Challenge is evidence of the excellence underpinning our research at Maynooth. These projects are being developed for a specific challenge, however their potential application across broader industry and society is clear. I wish our research teams every success.”
Prof Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “Challenge-based research funding empowers talented teams to address significant national and global challenges. This kind of collaboration between Government Departments, agencies such as the Defence Forces, companies, researchers, and entrepreneurs is just one of the ways science delivers real and tangible benefits for our society and economy.
“I want to commend each team on their hard work and dedication and wish them every success in the rest of the competition. Having this level of talent compete in this Challenge not only bodes well for this particular initiative but the future of scientific research more generally. I look forward to seeing the different solutions that develop as the competition continues.”
- Members of the Co-Pilot team: Prof Tim McCarthy, Prof John McDonald, Dr Stephanie Keogh, Dr Charles Markham, John Dooley, Prof Rozenn Dahyot, Dr Rowan Fealy, Dr Lars Pforte, Comdt Jay O’Reilly, Irish Air Corps, Daire Walsh, Fearghus Foyle, Leo Murray.
- Members of the Smart Hangar team: Prof Rozenn Dahyot, Dr Marco Cognetti, Peter Redmond and Captain Tom Mullarkey, Irish Air Corps.
|Lead||Prof Tim McCarthy (Maynooth University)|
|Co-Lead||Prof John McDonald (Maynooth University)|
|DefOrg Liaison||Comdt Jay O'Reilly (Irish Air Corps)|
|Enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the fire extinguishing capability of rotary-wing aircraft.|
|Solution||Using Earth Observation and Artificial Intelligence technologies, a new system capable of providing real-time information to responders in the air and on the ground will be developed to assist in managing wildfires.|
|Team Name||SMART HANGAR|
|Lead||Prof Rozenn Dahyot (Maynooth University)|
|Co-Lead||Dr Marco Cognetti (Maynooth University)|
|DefOrg Liaison||Capt Tom Mullarkey (Irish Air Corps)|
|Challenge/Disruptive Ideas||Cyber-physical system to assist in, or potentially automate, manoeuvring of aircraft between a hangar and apron.|
|Solution||Smart Hangar will develop a co-operative system that will allow a human controller and robot to work together to manoeuvre aircraft.|