Bluebottle drone new weapon in defence

An unmanned marine drone capable of monitoring Australia's borders has won a $10,000 innovation grant in Sydney.

Bluebottles often elicit an "ow" from swimmers, but one is making the defence industry say "wow".

A high-tech unmanned boat, dubbed 'Bluebottle', which can remain at sea for months and may one day help defend the nation's borders has been awarded an innovation grant in Sydney.

Like its namesake, the Sydney-developed drone is powered by the wind and waves.

The sail is equipped with solar panels that provide most of its power, but if that's not good enough, a turbine in the water makes the most of ocean currents.

The 5.8-metre vessel has excited the defence industry for the opportunities it presents for various naval activities, including surveillance.

A modified variant also has anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

"It's a satellite of the sea - an autonomous ship that can be constantly beaming back critical information," NSW trade and industry minister Niall Blair said on Thursday.

"We are hoping that one day we will have a fleet of Bluebottles that can communicate in a network that stretches across the oceans."

The Bluebottle, developed by Sydney's Ocius Technology, took out the defence innovation grant for small and medium enterprises at the maritime exposition Pacific 2017.

Leading defence contractor Thales Australia won the big business award for Stingrae, a system that makes it easier for boarding parties to communicate with their host ship.