CSIRO’s digital innovation arm Data61 has opened its Robotics Innovation Centre in Pullenvale, near Brisbane, a purpose-built research facility for robotics and autonomous systems, an industry set to be worth $23 billion by 2025.
Data61 is a global leader in the field, with projects ranging from legged robots and 3D mapping to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs).
Fred Pauling, robotics and autonomous systems group leader at Data61, says the 600m2 facility will enhance the company’s world-class research capabilities.
“The new centre expands our research infrastructure to develop highly autonomous robotics systems that can interact safely and seamlessly with humans and other dynamic agents, in challenging indoor and outdoor environments,” he says.
“Our robots are already being used to safely inspect and create 3D maps of underground mines, monitor biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest and navigate difficult terrain in emergency situations.”
One project is the testing of technology to rapidly map, navigate and search underground environments as part of a three-year Subterranean Challenge funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The centre houses the biggest motion-capture system in the southern hemisphere, used to validate data collected by robotics systems, a 13 x 5m pool for testing aquatic robots, a significant number of field-deployable UAVs and UGVs, legged robots and high-accuracy robot manipulators, as well as sensors and telemetry systems.
Adrian Turner, CEO of Data61, says the centre is a national asset combining internationally recognised robotics and machine learning research with deep domain expertise from CSIRO providing unique collaboration opportunities for industry, government and academia.
“Robotics and autonomous systems technologies, underpinned by machine learning and artificial intelligence, will unlock new value in all manner of sectors including manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare and mining,” he says.
“By creating a cohesive approach to robotics R&D through closer collaboration, supported by world-class facilities like the Robotics Innovation Centre, we can ensure Australia is well placed to benefit from Industry 4.0 and help to protect and accelerate our nation’s ongoing economic success.”
Data61’s facilities are open for industry use and collaborative projects. These include dedicated mechanical and electronics engineering laboratories, several high-end rapid prototyping machines, large sheds for indoors systems testing, an open-air UAV flying area and outdoor testing areas including a forest and creek.
Data61 led the formation of the Sixth Wave Alliance last year, a network seeking to integrate key robotics research organisations and industry partners in Australia to enable a higher level of R&D collaboration. Dr Sue Keay was recently appointed to lead Data61’s cyber-physical systems research program, drawing on her experience in developing Australia’s first robotics roadmap while at QUT’s Australian Centre for Robotic Vision.
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