Intelligent robots win Award
The innovative collaboration between UTS and Roads & Maritime Services (RMS) of NSW is the winner of 2019 BHERT Award for Outstanding Collaboration in Research & Development: Public Infrastructure.
The annual Business Higher Education Round Table (BHERT) Awards are a celebration and recognition of high impact university collaborations. This Award recognises the UTS Centre for Autonomous Systems (CAS)/RMS partnership is at the forefront of developing intelligent robotic solutions for infrastructure projects - locally and globally.
RMS is responsible for the safety, efficiency and quality of road and maritime networks across NSW, Australia’s largest bridge maintenance program.
In 2005 RMS approached CAS to explore intelligent robotic solutions, the start of a partnership which has spawned the new research field of infrastructure robotics said Distinguished Professor Dikai Lau, School of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering,
Over 15 years, we have built a sustainable partnership based on a research and development co-design model, with all planning and decisions taken together. Subsequently, we have developed four projects with four robots that have sophisticated intelligence. There are no similar robots in existence for the specific applications ours are for. Other robots are not capable of autonomous operation in such unstructured field environments.
The four innovative intelligent robots are:
- An autonomous grit-blasting robot for steel bridges: lightweight with a high payload, and operating in unknown, unstructured environments. Innovations to meet these challenges include new algorithm methods for exploration, 3-D map building and environmental awareness, efficient and rapid algorithms for grit blasting planning, robot motion and real-time collision detection and avoidance.
- A bio-inspired climbing robot (CROC) for use in confined spaces: it navigates difficult confined spaces in unknown environments. Its dexterous body design, inspired by how an inchworm moves, allows it to pivot through small spaces, accessing difficult-to-reach areas.
- An autonomous underwater robot (SPIR) for bridge and wharf pile cleaning and condition assessment: SPIR removes tough marine growth from piles in underwater environments with low visibility and with strong currents or waves. A simultaneous localisation and mapping algorithm maps underwater structures.
- A four-legged robot (WAuMBot) for abrasive blasting, vacuuming and painting interior surfaces of the Sydney Harbour Bridge arches: it provides access to areas of the Bridge – such as the internal surfaces of the arches – that are dangerous for workers.
Dr Peter Binks, CEO of BHERT, acknowledged the quality of applications from many sectors of Australian industry and community and addressing some of Australia’s most important challenges.
Our Panel was impressed by the strength and impact of these partnerships, and the commitment by businesses, communities and universities to work together. Australian university-industry and university-community partnerships are continuing to grow in number and importance and are making a vital contribution to our nation.