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Data61 to expand robotic infrastructure with new facility

12 Mar 2019

CSIRO’s Data61 announced the opening of its new robotics innovation centre in Queensland, a purpose-built research facility for robotics and autonomous systems, an industry set to be worth $23 billion by 2025. 

CSIRO’s Data61 robotics and autonomous systems group leader Fred Pauling said the 600-square-metre facility would enhance the group’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,” Pauling said. 

“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 being spearheaded by the centre 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. It also features a 13x5m pool for testing aquatic robots, a significant number of field-deployable UAVs and UGVs, legged robots, high-accuracy robot manipulators as well as sensors and telemetry systems. 

CSIRO’s Data61 CEO Adrian Turner said the centre is a national asset that combines 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,” Turner said.

“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 robotics infrastructure is open for industry use and collaborative projects. This includes 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.