QUT has received $1.2 million in new ARC funding and a green light to build Australia’s largest covered outdoor facility for testing equipment, robotics and materials processing techniques in realistic Moon, Mars and asteroid conditions.
The ARA program offers unrestricted funds and AWS Promotional Credits to support research at academic institutions and non-profit organisations in areas that align with Amazon’s mission to advance customer-obsessed science.
Professor Michael Milford, acting director of the QUT Centre for Robotics, and co-investigator Dr Tobias Fischer, an expert in robotics and computer vision, will lead the project with researcher Stephen Hausler, who specialises in bio-inspired algorithms that enable robots to navigate autonomously in challenging environmental conditions.
“Technology currently used in areas like autonomous vehicles, such as sensing and computer hardware, can be very expensive which can reduce innovation and development in robotics,” Professor Milford said.
“In order for a company to consider making robots, and for consumers to consider buying them, it’s important to reduce the barrier to entry by lowering the upfront costs.
“Through this research program, our goal is to come up with a high-quality positioning system for robots at a more affordable price to encourage more manufacturing and consumer uptake of robotics technology.
“We are particularly focused on getting more positioning performance out of a limited sensing suite, such as just a single, low-cost camera on the robot.,” he said.
QUT is an Australian leader in robotic vision, positioning technologies, and Artificial Intelligence research and translation.
The one-year project, funded by the ARA is due to start this month. Viable outcomes could potentially enable cheaper, but highly capable robots within the next five years.
The ARA previously granted the QUT Centre for Robotics with US$80,000 in 2019 to assist Dr Niko Suenderhauf, a leader for the visual learning and understanding program, to investigate robotic models for navigation, manipulation and interaction.
In 2017, QUT researchers from the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision also won the US$80,000 first prize in the Amazon Picking Challenge to address a gap in automated warehousing processes.
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New facilities for testing space technologies, automated transport and green energy solutions are among QUT projects funded in the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Program grants.