From the news desk

South Africa launches defence AI research unit

Share this article

By Lee-Yandra Paulsen

The Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies, in partnership with the Department of Defence, inaugurated the Defence Artificial Intelligence Research Unit (DAIRU) on Friday, marking the establishment of the fourth hub of the Artificial Intelligence Institute of South Africa (AIISA) at the Military Academy in Saldanha, Western Cape.

Deputy Director of the Defence AI Research Unit, Wayne Dalton, emphasized the significance of the event, stating, “The military academy is a university for the military, primarily it is an applied research institute looking at the artificial intelligence, the main aciculate to defence.” 


Dalton highlighted the role of AI in bolstering the defence sector, explaining, “Well AI is a double challenge, we need a voice as Africa. Which is what we are launching today. Artificial intelligence is a broad technology, and it is a collection of enabling technologies. We are defence so we would look to enhance our warfighting capabilities. Of course, not everything in the military is dealing with the sharp end of the spear, just like every organisation we have Human Resources (HR), logistics and finance.”

He further elaborated on the potential of AI to drive efficiency and effectiveness across various sectors, stating, “A couple of examples where I think AI is playing a unique role. Firstly, in strengthening maritime security, AI has begun to play a role in getting eyes out on the large ocean surrounding the country. Secondly, we live in a world of cyber security, AI can play a role in making South Africa a cyber resilient nation.” 

Dalton emphasized the importance of AI in supporting the blue economy, stating, “A lot of our trade, like 90%, goes through our ports and so AI in the ways I have spoken about can help support the blue economy. Which is very important not only to the nation but also to the government. We have a lot of threats in the maritime as well as illegal fishing and other illicit activity. And lastly, we have a very big border or the coast as well as to the north and so AI can also play a role in securing our borders.”


Reflecting on the significance of the South African Military Academy’s role in research and development, Dalton stated, “The South African Military Academy has been in operation since 1950 so we’ve got a long history of research and development. But it is a small capability today I think it is a very important statement that the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies is making by saying they looking to invest and expand that. We are the university for the defence force, so part of our value proposition is to play a role in doing degree programs that have AI in it.”

VOC News

Photo:  Pixabay

Share this article
WhatsApp WhatsApp us
Wait a sec, saving restore vars.