Abstract: Australia is a large, sparsely populated, resource rich country a long way from anywhere; and is consequently the ideal place to do field robotics. The past decade has seen substantial technical development and investment in large scale field robotics, especially in civilian applications such as cargo handling, mining, agriculture and marine environments; applications which are of central importance to the Australian economy. This talk will describe a number of technical advances in the areas of navigation, perception, machine learning, large platform control, and systems engineering that have enabled substantial progress in the “science” of field robotics and which have led to significant commercial applications. The talk will also aim to look forward to the next decade, especially focusing on the development of machine learning methods for real-time operation of robots in large-scale unstructured field environments and where the opportunities for future commercial developments will come from.
Hugh Durrant-Whyte received the B.Sc. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of London, U.K., in 1983, and the M.S.E. and Ph.D. degrees, both in Systems Engineering, from the University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., in 1985 and 1986, respectively. From 1987 to 1995, he was a University Lecturer in Engineering Science, the University of Oxford, U.K. From 1995-2010 he was Professor of Mechatronic Engineering at University of Sydney where he led the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR). He is currently CEO of NICTA. His research focuses data fusion, perception and navigation as applied to robotics and sensor networks. His work in applications includes automation in cargo handling, surface and underground mining, defence, unmanned flight vehicles and autonomous sub-sea vehicles. He has published over 350 research papers and has won numerous awards and prizes for his work. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (FIEEE), a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA), and a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS).