ReefWorks

Australia's tropical marine technology test range

ReefWorks is a suite of secure marine technology test and evaluation facilities open to industry, government and academic innovators.  

Based at our headquarters, near Townsville, on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef, ReefWorks offers a national capability to safely test marine technologies, unmanned systems and new sensors. 

ReefWorks is believed to be the first such facility in the world located in tropical waters, which can be a challenging operating environment for marine technologies. 

It offers development, design and testing services for marine technologies for both civilian and defence purposes. 

It caters for unmanned and autonomous aerial, surface, and underwater systems as well as other innovations or sensors that require testing and evaluation in the marine environment.  

Autonomous systems have stringent compliance requirements for managing risks to personnel, equipment, vessels and the environment. ReefWorks allows for the safe testing of these systems in a real-world environment.

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Our facilities – including laboratories, workshops, wharf facilities, three sea test ranges with differing conditions and autonomous corridors – provide a cost-effective, safe, repeatable test environment in a secure facility, in a remote tropical location. 

ReefWorks is poised to catalyse Australia’s innovation in marine robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence (RAS-AI), offering testing at different levels of technology readiness – from proof-of-concept to operations – as well as verifying technologies as fit-for-purpose, safe to operate and environmentally compliant.  

This will drive value and innovation in a range of sectors including marine monitoring, reef restoration, defence, education, agriculture, filmmaking, search and rescue, oil and gas, transportation, storm-tracking, forecasting and mapping. 

ReefWorks also expands Australia’s capability to tackle the challenges facing our marine ecosystems such as coral bleaching events and other impacts of climate change by expanding our ability to monitor or respond.

ReefWorks services

Our services support the entire development cycle from simulation validation, bench testing, tank tests through to nearshore and offshore field testing. 

1. Marine platform and sensor test facility 

RAS-AI sensors and platforms need a tightly-controlled environment to gather data to determine performance. ReefWorks offers a sensor test tank facility within the National Sea Simulator (SeaSim) as a controlled test environment to evaluate next-generation marine sensor performance as well as a platform test tank facility for vehicle/vessel testing in a controlled environment.

Sensor payload and platform test tanks collaborative trials. From left: AIMS-QUT (photo: Scott Bainbridge); AIMS-ReefHQ (photo: Melanie Olsen);(AIMS-DST photo: Jon Kok).

2. Tropical marine test ranges 

ReefWorks offers three marine test ranges to test longer-range vessel performance: 

  • With directly adjacent waters in a controlled scientific zone, the marine operations test range caters for shallow, controlled testing in the turbid waters off AIMS Cape Cleveland across to Cape Bowling Green. 

  • Davies Reef is a clear-water coral reef range with a sensorised research tower connected to AIMS Cape Cleveland.  

  • Further offshore, Myrmidon Reef, with another connected research tower, offering remoteness as a test factor.    

ReefWorks also includes drone corridors between the testing areas, to routinely verify performance of unmanned (including autonomous) underwater, surface, and aerial platforms.

The ReefWorks marine test ranges

3. Test range digital twin 

Most testing and evaluation of RAS-AI systems occurs in a digital environment for practical reasons and cost-effectiveness.  

Digital environment testing is offered by ReefWorks through real-time collected data and a partnership with the NQ SPARK concept.  

NQ SPARK is the North Queensland Simulation Park, an advanced environmental training facility drawing on expertise of Cubic Defence in collaboration with government, academia and industry. 

Our digital twin test range supports the entire development cycle from simulation validation, bench testing, tank tests through to nearshore and offshore field testing.

Test range digital twin example: AIMS-QUT digital modelling and simulation environments for autonomous underwater platforms.