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UDT 2019: Spotlighting the Future

The Leading Global Exhibition and Conference on Underwater and Security

UDT, the underwater defence and security community’s leading global exhibition and conference, puts the future of the underwater defence and security centre stage at this year’s conference and exposition 13-15 May, 2019.

Three Swedish Armed Forces panel discussions took place today – Day Two – of the conference, whereby attendees benefitted by the host nation’s unique perspective on several key issues facing the Swedish Navy – and its underwater mission – now and in the future.

Chaired by Captain Anders Järn, Director Underwater Warfare Department – Defence Materiel Administration, FMV, drew attendees to direct their thinking and consider the underwater domain as being of vital national interest, operational aspects of UXVs and to take a closer look with him inside the SMaRC – or Swedish Maritime Robotics Centre. Many pundits in this space feel these are key themes that dictate the doctrinal, industrial and materiel focus for defending the region against external aggression. To date, most foreign violations of Sweden’s national boundaries are from the sea.

Speakers included:

Rear Admiral Odd Werin, Director Naval SystemsFMV;

Cdr Fredrik Lindén, Head of Training and Personnel – Swedish Navy Staff;

Dr Ivan Stenius, Associate Professor, Centre for Naval Architecture, Department of Aeronautical and Vehicle Engineering – KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

This focus on Swedish armed forces operations, technologies, requirements and challenges will continue the morning of Day 3 with an intense focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) security and insecurity in the underwater defence environ, providing key learning for attendees and their countries.

These speakers will include:

Dr Chris Norwood, Research Leader Acoustic Signature ManagementDST – Australia;

Dr Heiko Borchert, Security Analyst and Managing DirectorBorchert Consulting & Research AG;

Dr Joel Brynielsson, Deputy Research Director – FOI.

Tomorrow’s panel discussion will explore how the underwater defence and security community approaches AI within a ‘Total Defence’ construct, while stepping back from technology innovations in development and consider the wider context in which new technologies must embed in order to maximise utilisation in the future battlespace.

Trust is a huge issue when looking at the use of AI by naval forces in general, because one of the key challenges with rolling out new unmanned or robotic technology is the need to understand the wider context to properly embed technology,” Borchert noted. “It is essentially about stepping out of the technology and operational domains and into a cultural domain.

When looking at disruptive technologies, the engineering community can often be an odds with the operator community; the former gets very excited about it, but disruption goes hand-in-hand with change – and change tends to be resisted as it questions organisational routine and well-established doctrinal principles.”

Leading to a significant amount of opposition or even refusal to accept new technologies that might disturb the status quo, the underwater defence and security community is where the use of unmanned technologies, robotics and big data is going to continue to grow. This makes AI prominent on agendas for those wanting to push evolve and improve their nation’s defence.

We have to accept there is a huge cultural aspect to AI and its employment in the battlefield, in a way that is quite unique in the defence and security sector,” Borchert acknowledged. “It’s somewhat difficult for engineers to understand because culture isn’t something that can be coded into a software, it something that needs to be done via education and change management across organisations, to enable people to understand that this kind of change is not a threat, rather, it has massive potential to augment capabilities.”

Simon Williams, Chairman, Clarion Defence & Security, added: “…this is one of the reasons why UDT is such a valuable platform, as it brings together engineers, users and policy makers and gives everyone a chance to see things from the other perspective.”

It is vital for each to be exposed to the other because often these communities may talk about each other but don’t talk to each other. Williams assured MON / NAVAL FORCES that UDT has a fantastic line up of speakers across the three-day UDT 2019 conference selected from the world’s leading industry, research, education and military organisations, and I look forward to attendees getting a high-level view of the future of the underwater defence and security domain.”

Note: The full conference agenda is available at https://www.udt-global.com/agenda

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