The Defence Department wants to recruit Australia’s top new mathematicians.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has signed an agreement to increase the ranks of Defence Science and Technology Group with new interns.

They are expected to work on underwater drones, bomb-defusing robots and AI-infused battlefield machines.

Australia’s military has identified a need for better autonomous systems technology to combat new and evolving threats.

The new between Defence and the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) is backed by funding to headhunt PhD students from universities across Australia for four to six month paid internships with DST Group.

It aims to hire at least 100 interns over the next three years.

“A lot of the stuff they will do they will run through security clearances and it’s not always public the sorts of things they will be doing,” said AMSI’s acting national program manager Glen Sheldon.

“It’s not like they are going out there and designing large scale nuclear weapons or anything … it’s a multifaceted thing where we try and bridge the gap between research and industry and they work on projects feeding that back into the overall program.

“The thing is we produce brilliant research that doesn’t make it into the commercial sphere and part of this project is to bridge that gap.”

The projects reportedly include advanced autonomous underwater vehicles that can go further on less power, robots to respond to Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), and the development of algorithms for better human-machine integration and artificial “swarm intelligence”.

More information is available here.