Queensland government should embrace robotics and automation: QUT

A new report from QUT recommends that the Queensland government place more resources into robotics and automation if it is to avoid economic stagnancy.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

The Queensland government should increase the uptake of robotics and automation to boost its economic growth, according to a report released by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

QUT's The Robotics and Automation Advantage for Queensland report [PDF], which was developed in collaboration with Synergies Economic Consulting and the Queensland government, predicts that the adoption of robotics and automation in the state could result in economic growth of 1 to 2 percent over the next decade, adding between AU$37.4 billion to AU$117.5 billion to Gross State Product.

The report was released to coincide with the recent Queensland Government Future of Work -- Skills and Industry Summit held in November.

The report gave recommendations to provide appropriate technical advice, especially to small and medium-sized industries; develop adequate funding sources for technical development; develop a skilled workforce; provide industry-specific adjustment support; and promote the wealth-generating potential of robotics and automation.

Embracing robotics and automation could provide anywhere between 492,950 and 1.165 million jobs by 2028, the report also said.

Read more: Atlassian paints dire future for workers in the face of automation

According to QUT vice-chancellor and president professor Margaret Sheil, it is imperative that the Queensland government, universities, and industry bodies work together to enable Queenslanders to take advantage of the opportunities of the new robotics age.

The report warned that greater use of robotics and automation within the Queensland economy is inevitable if living standards are to be maintained.

"The falling cost of robotics and automated systems means that they are now in reach of the small to medium enterprises that make up the bulk of the economy. This enlarges the scope for automation in Queensland well beyond the dominant capital heavy industries of agriculture, mining, and manufacturing that are normally associated with automation," the report said.

QUT's deputy vice-chancellor of research and commercialisation professor Arun Sharma, however, has said that much research into robotics has already been achieved by universities, often in partnership with the government and industry bodies.

A robotics research project is currently in development to create vision-enabled, agile, and adaptable robots that small and medium-sized enterprises can easily use to make high-value products that open export opportunities and create more jobs, Sharma said.

Earlier this year, the Australian government launched a "robotics roadmap" that aims to support the development of critical robotic and vision technologies, with the intention to modernise the economy, build national health and sustainability, and "unlock human potential".

Dr Sue Keay, chief operating officer of the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision, headquartered at QUT, said the new report reinforced centre-led research that robotics is key to Australia attaining productivity growth and maintaining its standard of living.

Looking ahead, Dr Keay said Queensland is perfectly positioned to host a world-leading "technology cluster" to further advance development of a robot economy with national and global impact.

The Queensland government's 2018-19 Budget, which was announced in June, also had a focus on jobs and innovation. The Budget placed an additional AU$73 million into the state's innovation fund Advance Queensland, which brought the total amount given to the fund to AU$650 million.

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