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Robots – ready for the roles that are domestic, dirty, dangerous, distant or dull

From personal assistants for the elderly and infirmed, to miniaturised surgical robots to fearless mechanical workers for dangerous situations and Great Barrier Reef protectors, QUT’s Robotronica on Sunday August 18 will highlight how robots will be the helpers and co-workers for the future.

First published 12 August 2019

Robotronica is a robotics and technology festival showcasing some of the world’s latest advancements, celebrating innovation and offering a glimpse of the possibilities of the future.


Creative Director Jonathan Parsons said: “Robotronica is a great chance for the general public to go beyond the hype and get up close to robots that are changing the way we work and play, and meet the designers, researchers and creatives behind these transformations."

Robotronica will be the first chance for the public to see QUT Professor Matthew Dunbabin’s RangerBot, the result of almost two years of research, development and testing, which is the world’s first underwater robotic system designed specifically for coral reef environments, using only robot-vision for real-time navigation, obstacle avoidance and complex science missions.

PhD researcher Andrew Razjigaev, from the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision headquartered at QUT, is working on personalised surgical SnakeBots fitted with computer vision capabilities and the ability to navigate around human anatomy.

Mr Razjigaev, a mechatronics engineer due to complete his PhD in 2021, said this project is to provide surgeons with new tools that could lead to improved health outcomes, fewer complications and faster patient recovery.

Nicci Rossouw, chief executive officer of robotic automation solutions startup Exaptec, which took part in the 2018 QUT Creative Enterprise Australia Collider Accelerator, will be presenting the personal robot temi which Scientific America recently highlighted as a standout in the next generation of personal assistants.

Temi has been listed as a standout in the next generation of personal assistants.


Israeli robotics entrepreneur Yossi Wolf was inspired to create temi after visiting his 90-year-old grandmother and realising how a personal robot could help her in her home.

Ms Rossouw, who will be speaking at Robotronica 2019 about the role of robots in the home, said many of her clients were the elderly and infirmed who realised a personal robot could help them maintain a connection with the world outside of their home.

Some of Exaptec’s clients include a schoolboy with leukaemia who cannot go to school because of infection risks and uses a robot to connect with his friends and continue his studies, and a quadriplegic who uses a personal robot to run his business.

“What really excites me and what I’m really passionate about is the connections that this little robot can facilitate between you and your loved ones, you and your friends, when you can’t be in the same place at the same time and you want to talk to them,” Ms Rossouw said.

“You’ve got this little robot that you can talk to the whole day and get the information you want because it’s Alexa based.”

QUT researchers working with CSIRO will also display a range of legged robots that they are developing that are capable of traversing extreme environments and complex confined spaces.

CSIRO project manager Ross Dungavell said robotics developers typically pitched robots as ideal for the “three Ds”.

QUT student Marisa Bucolo and UQ student Ben Tam are working with CSIRO's legged robots. Image courtesy of CSIRO


“If a job is dirty, dangerous or dull, it should probably be done by a robot,” Mr Dungavell said.

“The fourth one we add in there, which is particularly relevant in the Australian context, is if the job is distant.

“If it’s a long way from anywhere and requires transporting humans long distances, or to places which are dirty, dangerous or dull, then that’s probably a good application for robotics as well.

“The mining industry, our energy industries and our agricultural industries are all leaders in various ways at automation at their very remote sites.

“The majority of the robotic trucks in the world are in the Pilbara in Australia operating in Australian mines. There are more automated haul trucks in the Pilbara than in the rest of the world combined.”

BIA5 Pty Ltd managing director Shawn Tansley partnered with Deakin University’s Institute for Intelligent Systems to develop the OzBot robotic platform, which is used in a range of industries including of emergency services, mining and hazardous area inspections.

Titan is also part of a squad of five robots the CSIRO's Data61 team is competing with at the DARPA Subtchallenge in the US from tomorrow.

CSIRO’s Data61 OzBot Titan used for the
DARPA Subterranean chaIlenge. Image courtesy of CSIRO


The Queensland Police Service will be at Robotronica displaying the 300kg OzBot Titan which can break down doors and help get hostages out of dangerous siege situations.

“The adoption of these technologies has changed contemporary tactics throughout Australia and all of the policing agencies and the military are looking at these ground-based robots,” Mr Tansley said.

“Speed is everything in tactics – we’ve got something that is quick and fast to deploy.”

Robotronica 2019 will have displays showing how robotics is impacting every part of people’s lives and also highlight how QUT, and Queensland, is at the forefront of robotics and technology research.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last year released the QUT-commissioned report The Robotics and Automation Advantage for Queensland which identified Queensland as being in the box seat to use robotics and automation to transform productivity and quality of life.

The report found the most likely economic benefit from the adoption of robotics and automation in Queensland over the next 10 years would be 725,810 new jobs created.

Queensland already has the country’s largest pool of robotics researchers with the headquarters of the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision at QUT and that gathering of expertise is set to expand with CSIRO recently announcing Brisbane as the home of its Robotics Innovation Centre.

The QUT Robot Academy, which has delivered high-quality free undergraduate-level lessons to more than 125,000 people from 175 countries, is another part of that growing robotic technology cluster.

QUT robotics researchers who will be at Robotronica include:

•             QUT Creative Lab’s Director Professor Louis-Philippe Demers, an award winning, multidisciplinary artist known for his avant-garde use of robotics in large scale installations and stage productions. Robotronica will feature a collection of his works, including The Blind Robot, Inferno and Repeat.

Blind Robot
The Blind Robot explores the relationship between people and technology.


•             QUT Distinguished Professor Peter Corke, the founder of the QUT Robot Academy, will talk about how robots sense the world and how, in future, they might be able to see the world as we do.  


•             Professor Michael Milford, who is leading a research project on an Artificial Intelligence system to ensure the smart cars of the future will be smart enough to handle tough Australian road conditions, will be talking about future sensor technologies.

•             A group of QUT researchers will present a panel discussion on automated vehicle research, outlining the key challenges in bringing autonomous cars to Queensland roads.


•             Retail expert Professor Gary Mortimer and Dr Kate Letheren will present a talk on changing consumption patterns and behaviours driven by robots and AI.

•             Chris Lehnert, who developed Harvey the robotic capsicum harvester, will outline the future of robotic farming.

•             Andrew Razjigaev - from the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision headquartered at QUT - will demonstrate the personalised surgical SnakeBot.

For the full Robotronica program, including talks and forums featuring QUT robotics experts and guest speakers, visit


Media contact:

Rod Chester, QUT Media, 07 3138 9449,

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901,

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