Bridge workers can rejoice with UTS robot award wins
- A grit-blasting robot developed by UTS and the New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services has picked up two awards for engineering excellence by Engineers Australia
- The technology, currently assisting maintenance works on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, was also a finalist in this year's Eureka Awards
- A student team from the UTS Robotic Society has also been awarded 'Best Robot Design' in a national autonomous robot challenge
World-first robotic grit-blasting technology designed for dangerous maintenance work has won two prestigious awards at this year’s Engineers Australia Engineering Excellence Awards Sydney (EEAS).
The technology, developed by UTS and New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), is a safer solution to the hazardous side of bridge maintenance work that can sometimes expose workers to lead-based paints.
Professor Dikai Liu, from the UTS Centre for Intelligent Mechatronic Systems said UTS and RMS had developed the technology to improve health and safety for maintenance workers over the past six years.
“This is a world-first robotic solution – one that operates autonomously even in awkward and complex steel bridge maintenance environments,” Professor Liu said. “This robotic technology can be adapted to many other industries including steel fabrication, construction and cleaning.”
The innovativeness of the technology and its life-saving potential was recognised with awards in the ‘Control Systems and Communications’ and ‘Research and Development’ industry categories.
The EEAS award win is icing on the cake after the technology placed in the finals of the 2013 Eureka Awards as well as in the Robotics and Automation category of the 2013 Invention and Entrepreneurship Awards.
The technology has since been commercialised with the formation in March of spin-off company Sabre Autonomous Solutions. The company has attracted a Commercialisation Australia grant of $680,000 and an invitation to present at Tech23, Australia’s premier innovation and technology event.
Martin Lloyd, Executive Manager of Innovation and Commercial Development at UTS said robotic technology was an example of research partnerships leading to outstanding results that would positively impact workplace safety.
“The launch of Sabre Autonomous Solutions will support bringing the robot technology onto the world stage and can be applied to a broad range of major infrastructure maintenance,” Mr Lloyd said. “The future looks promising for the new venture based on the number of international business enquiries we have already received.
“UTS always welcomes opportunities to collaborate with business and industry in finding innovative solutions to a wide range of problems.”
Innovative robotic design at UTS was also recognised recently at the National Instruments Autonomous Robotic Challenge in Melbourne. Students from the UTS Robotic Society were awarded ‘Best Robot Design’ in the competition that pits teams from Australia and New Zealand against each other in a range of activities.