Boeing inks $45m deal with CSIRO to develop space-age technologies


SOURCE: SMH.COM.AU
DEC 24, 2021

Accelerating Australia’s push into space and improving “digital twin” technology for research and development will be at the heart of the latest $45 million agreement between aerospace giant Boeing and the CSIRO.

The company has partnered with Australia’s top science agency for the past 30 years, and this multimillion-dollar agreement is the next phase of that partnership, with the money allocated over the next five years.

The CSIRO’s chief technical advisor to Boeing, Shravan Singh, said the agreement allowed researchers at the agency to work on far more “complex platforms” than they would otherwise have access to, enabling them to pursue cutting-edge technological research.

“It’s a chance to benchmark the work we do – things like hydrogen technology, alternative propulsion, energy-dense batteries, these are all areas that have applications within aerospace and more broadly,” Mr Singh said.

“Digital twin is also an area that has been part of our strategic planning, digital intelligence and machine learning. These are all capabilities that will be improved by the work we do on these complex platforms.”

A digital twin is where researchers use a digital model to develop prototypes of major appliances, such as aircraft, to test them out before moving to production.

Michael Edwards, Boeing’s managing director of research and technology, said improving digital twin programs would mean huge savings for large projects.

“I use the development of our Dreamliner as an example. When we first produced the 787 plane, the first one we built was the hardest to make and the most expensive because we were learning all the lessons physically,” he said.

“A digital twin allows you to go through the first 100 lines in the computer, so when you come to production, we’re making line 100 line one.”

Research to benefit Australia’s sovereign capacity in space is also being undertaken as a result of the new funding partnership.

Matthew Buckle, director of emerging markets at Boeing Defence Australia, said they would also be bidding to be part of the JP9102 project, launched by the Australian Defence Department to establish sovereign satellite capability for Australia.

“We’re going to be leveraging a great deal of R&D over many years in our proposal, and we’re excited about that,” he said.

“We’re positioned to accelerate Australia’s capabilities because, while it’s been exciting to see the development over the past few years, in comparison to other parts of the world, our businesses in Australia are still in their infancy when it comes to space capability.”

The research collaboration between Boeing and the CSIRO has seen more than $200 million invested in R&D over the past 30 years, with Australia seeing the largest R&D operation by Boeing outside the United States.

Boeing is a major supporter of the CSIRO’s new In-Situ Resource Utilisation Facility in Brisbane, which was recently launched to test equipment such as rovers to be used on future moon missions.

Just this week, Boeing announced a major intake of 100 student interns to its aerospace program based in southeast Queensland, where it employs more than 2000 people.

Boeing also recently chose Wellcamp Airport on the outskirts of Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, as the preferred site for an uncrewed-aircraft production facility, the first outside North America.