Data61 launches new robotics research centre

New centre will house the Southern Hemisphere's largest motion-capture device as well as a pool for robots.

Data61 launches new robotics research centre New centre will house the Southern Hemisphere's largest motion-capture device as well as a pool for robots.

Data61, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's (CSIRO) technology arm, on Tuesday launched a new centre dedicated to the research and development (R&D) of robotics and autonomous systems.

The 600 square metre facility, called the Robotics Innovation Centre, is based in Pullenvale, Queensland. It lays claim to the Southern Hemisphere's largest motion-capture device -- used to validate data collected by robotics systems -- as well as a 13x5-metre pool for testing underwater robots; engineering laboratories; rapid prototyping machines; indoor and outdoor testing areas; field-deployable UAVs and UGVs; legged robots; high-accuracy robot manipulators; and sensor and telemetry systems.

The research centre will be used to develop robotics systems that can interact safely with humans in both indoor and outdoor environments, according to Data61 Robotics and Autonomous Systems group leader Fred Pauling.

One robotics project already under way at the centre is a trial of technology that rapidly maps, navigates, and searches underground environments. The trial is part of a three-year challenge funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Data61's robots are already being used to inspect and create 3D maps of underground mines to monitor the biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest, Pauling said.

The launch of the robotics centre, Data61 CEO Adrian Turner said, will further the development of robotics and autonomous systems technologies that help add new value to Australia's economy.

"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," Turner said.

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Data61 testing an underwater robot in the Robotics Innovation Centre's pool

(Image: CSIRO)

Last year, Data61 formed the Sixth Wave Alliance alongside various universities, companies, and government organisations -- a network that seeks to enable a higher level of research collaboration in Australia, according to Data61.

Data61 has also partnered with Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) to create a tool that helps improve the efficiency and effectiveness of transport systems. The Traffic Congestion Management program, which has been under way for a few years, models the impact of network changes or disruptions and then issues automatic journey planning information for transport operators and travellers.

Since Data61's inception in July 2016, the CSIRO's technology arm has completed at least 317 research projects and flagged an additional 364 projects as being in progress as of December.

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Robotics Innovation Centre

(Image: CSIRO)