Over the next 10 years what will be the most significant areas for development in military and civil technology?
One of the areas where global technical developments are currently focusing on is sustainability. For example, in civil technology this is currently visible in the enormous increase in electric vehicles. Another example is the development of hydrogen powered cars using fuel cell technologies. I expect that the investments in sustainable technologies will remain high the upcoming years, which will eventually lead to technical improvements and developments. Military technology can profit from these developments. A good example is the use of lithium batteries in submarines.
Another area in which I expect significant developments are in autonomous technologies. In civil industry, this is currently a hot topic. Tesla has already ‘autonomous cars’ and many other companies and research institutes are focusing on this topic as well. The knowledge and experience gained by this will eventually contribute to the usage of autonomous systems and vehicles in the military industry as well.
With the rapid introduction of new technologies in mass consumer markets there are challenges not only old technology but old ideas; and there are open questions - how are these technological developments impacting on defence and security capabilities?
The defence industry can profit from the rapid introduction of new technologies in mass consumer market. In the submarine market, fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries can be seen as examples. Both technologies are rapidly developed in either the automotive and/or portable electronic markets and both technologies can improve the capabilities of submarines.
In other defence markets, the rapid introduction of new technologies can be seen as both an improvement of the capabilities but can also been seen as a potential risks. Especially the trend to artificial intelligence and autonomous technology can oppose risks with the respect to protection against foreign hackers.
There is a focus on achieving advances in miniaturisation, robotics and artificial intelligence and the exploitation of big data which have the potential to generate revolutionary change – do you think this focus is correct and where do you think we can expect to see the most rapid developments?
In my area of work (submarine design), I do not expect rapid changes. I do not think that the function of submarines can be replaced by UUVs in the nearby future. There are still too much challenges to be overcome. I other areas of the defence industry, I do expected more changes. Surface vessels, the Air force and land forces can more easily achieve advances in miniaturisation, robotics and artificial intelligence and the exploitation of big data.
However, I think new submarine designs should have the capability to deploy UUVs which can be used for supportive functions. Furthermore, I think the focus should lay on design simplification and the implementation of autonomous systems. This will give the opportunity to gradually decrease the submarine crew size and increase the autonomy of submarine designs.
There is a growing demand from the user community for practical and pragmatic change, based on rapid development and experimentation from industry – do you think this demand is fair and what can we expect to see as a result?
You can demand technical developments from the industry. However, the industry still needs to be profitable in order to survive. Therefore, It can be expected that systems developed by the industry will be standardized. This will oppose integration challenges in the design of naval vessel. Furthermore, when costume made system are required high costs can be expected.
Can you give us a brief insight into the areas your session will be covering?
My presentation will focus on the implementation of modern battery technologies in submarine designs. The modern battery technology enables the possibility of an entirely battery powered submarine, which might create a revolution in submarine design. During my presentation I will present a feasibility study and I will focus on the advantages and possibilities of an entirely battery powered submarine designs.
What can delegates expect to take away from your session?
The key take away of my presentation is that an entirely battery powered submarine will be a feasible design solution, with multiple potential benefits, for future submarine design. The suitability of such a design is of course depending on the operational and functional requirements of a navy. However, an entirely battery powered design should at least be considered when the design process of a new submarine is started.
Furthermore, my presentation clearly shows that developments in the civil industry can lead to revolutionary designs in the defence industry. The defence industry should stay open minded and need to dare to think outside the box to fully use the potentials of the developments in civil industries.