UQ MARS had an amazing opportunity to tour CSIRO’s advanced facilities aimed at high end robotics research and development. Roughly twenty members and three executives gathered outside the Queensland Centre for Advanced Technology (QCAT) on the 9th of April, 2021, and signed into reception, eager to learn more about the institute.
The tour kicked off at the Data61 Robotics Innovation Centre. Here, we got to see firsthand the legged robots that the CSIRO team are developing, including “Magneto” and a variety of other quadrupedal robots. Magneto is a highly flexible navigational magnapod, designed to traverse any surface at various degrees of incline through a combination of electromagnets and highly advanced artificial intelligence. Its applications relate to maintenance and inspection, reducing the risk involved in high rise structural analysis by removing the need for humans to scale building exteriors at great altitudes.
In addition to Magneto, the Data61 team were also working on many other exciting projects, ranging from subterranean to marine environments. Our tour then took us to the simulated mine CSIRO has constructed for their participation in the DARPA Subterranean Challenge. The objective of the design created for the competition was to navigate in low light conditions, and develop new and innovative ways to survey underground environments, from mines and tunnel systems to complex urban structures. These robots are a subdivision of the many Autonomous Ground Vehicles (AVGs) under active research in the company.
Last stop on the tour was the research offices, where we got to see the various iterations of the ‘Titan’ Robots involved in subterranean mapping competitions. Here, we saw how much a robot can change in the span of just a few months of development. It was insightful to learn how ideation and design are completed on a commercial and federal level.
In conclusion, touring the QCAT campus was an amazing experience, and our members found it very inspiring to see the various applications of mechatronics and robotics in the research industry. We all left excited and enthusiastic to be involved with similar projects in the near future. UQ MARS would like to thank CSIRO for the opportunity to tour their facilities, and for allowing us to take a glimpse into the research and design process of their many advanced projects in development.
Written by Joshua Lai - UQ MARS President 2021