CSIRO bolsters autonomous mining systems with robotics centre

Image: CSIRO

CSIRO’s Data61 has opened its Robotics Innovation Centre in Queensland, dedicated to advance an industry that could be worth $23 billion by 2025.

Data61’s robots are already being used to safely inspect and create 3D maps of underground mines 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.

The centre expands Data61’s 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, Data61 robotics and autonomous systems group leader Fred Pauling said.

Data61 has developed capabilities ranging from legged robots and 3D mapping through to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs).

“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,” CSIRO’s Data61 chief executive Adrian Turner said.

“By creating a cohesive approach to robotics research and development (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.”

The centre houses the biggest motion capture system in the Southern Hemisphere, used to validate data collected by robotics systems.

It also features a 13×5-metre pool for testing aquatic robots, a significant number of field-deployable UAVs and UGVs, legged robots, high-accuracy robot manipulators and sensors and telemetry systems.

Data61’s robotics infrastructure is open for industry use and collaborative projects. This includes mechanical and electronics engineering laboratories, 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.

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