Tuesday, 22 May 2018 10:36

New alliance to develop a national robotics R&D strategy Featured

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CSIRO's digital innovation group Data61 has announced the formation of an alliance to develop a national robotics R&D strategy and create the critical mass required to address large-scale Australian and international challenges using robotics technologies.

The Sixth Wave Alliance brings together Australian industry, research and government collaborators to promote and facilitate the adoption and creation of robotics and automation technology.

With Data61, inaugural members of the alliance include AlphaBeta, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, METSIgnited, NERA (National Energy Resources Australia), QUT, University of Queensland and Woodside.

The move comes as demand for robots is growing, with worldwide spending on robotics expected to reach US$188 billion in 2020.

Data61 says robotics and autonomous system technologies have the potential to solve issues of safety and productivity across industries.

The Alliance will focus on a range of industries primed for transformation through autonomous technologies, including defence, agriculture, oil and gas, mining, transport, and smart cities. It will also address other areas including STEM education, research and training.  

Data61 says the application of robotics into these sectors will have a positive impact for the humans working alongside them – and autonomous robots could be used for mapping unstable mining environments or automating long-haul freight transport.

It also says a unified robotics industry can help assist Australia’s workforce, advance the economy with new business opportunities and address the nation’s challenges from limited resources to the spatial distribution of cities and hubs of industry.

SWA has been formed following collaboration in development of the Robotics Roadmap for Australia, led by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Robotic Vision.

“The country’s robotics opportunity lies in using robots and sensors to capture information about complex environments and to automate tasks that would otherwise be completed by humans in high risk situations and at a greater cost. As every sector becomes data-driven, areas like Australia's healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing and mining industries are primed for enhancement via robotics and autonomous systems,” Data61 chief executive Adrian Turner said.

“SWA will allow us to put Australia on the map as the global leader in robotics. The national robotics R&D strategy will create opportunities for the robotics industry to work with the Australian government and private sector to drive scale and increase Australia’s competitive on an international scale.”  

Dr Sue Keay, chair of the Robotics Roadmap and chief operating officer at QUT-based Australian Centre for Robotic Vision, said the formation of the SWA is critical to build a “successful path to innovation for robotics R&D”.

“SWA brings together complementary skills to solve problems, build human capacity, develop new technologies and encourage investment in an area where Australia already has a world-leading reputation.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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