Active Integrated Matter (AIM) was one of the first Future Science Platforms (FSPs) established by CSIRO in 2016/17. Offering a new technology platform combining materials, robotics, and autonomous science and underpinned by processing and sensing technologies, CSIRO’s Active Integrated Matter (AIM) FSP has led ground-breaking advances at the interface of big data, advanced autonomous systems, and materials science. The innovation developed in CSIRO’s AIM FSP supports the fourth wave of the industrial revolution—industry 4.0—and has provided global solutions across a range of industrial domains.
A number of mega-trend forecasts have predicted dramatic changes in the world by 2030. These will be wide-ranging – from personalised food and therapeutics to increased extreme weather events and human-free autonomous manufacturing and maintenance environments or ‘dark factories’. There will be an increased expectation for better products that are cheaper and more environmentally sustainable. Growing demand for customised products will require the development of sophisticated autonomous processes and maintenance systems.
The 2030 vision of CSIRO’s AIM FSP was to harness the scientific advances presented by big data, advanced autonomous systems, and materials science to provide a competitive edge for next-generation technologies to ensure preparedness for future population, climate, and environmental scenarios.
AIM FSP ran from June 2016 and concluded in June 2022. During its highly successful tenure, it was led by its inaugural director, Dr. Danielle Kennedy, as well as Dr. Kathie McGregor, and finally Mr. Tim Head in its final year.
The AIM FSP was singular in its successes in technology development. Over the course of the FSP, the research teams filed nine patent applications, developed 36 new technologies or prototypes (of which 30 have been taken up for further development inside their respective business units and one that underpins a new commercial venture), published more than 120 peer-reviewed journal papers and developed nearly thirty models, algorithms or other allied source code.
Impact has been realised through technologies as diverse as electrochemistry, additive manufacturing, point of care health diagnostics, heat shielding materials, seabed monitoring, perishable food preservation, robotic handling devices, the modelling of human digestion, and evolutionary modelling and design.
By way of example, one single technology development in electrochemistry is now the subject of two significant industry-led projects in the energy domain. Another technology is the focus of a new food industry business that is revolutionising vegetable preservation and delivery to our plates. And in a further example, researchers have developed a completely autonomous and portable remote area emissions monitoring station to assist our extractive industries in environmental care.
Impact analyses by independent third-party analysts have predicted material rates of return on investment for technologies as diverse as automated technology to monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef through to a point of care health diagnostic tool to determine iron deficiency.
Further information on the scope of research undertaken in the AIM FSP can be found in the following sections along with links to relevant personnel.
The AIM FSP, along with its research responsibilities, also commenced, supported, fostered or financed numerous allied activities including:
- The Teacher-Research in Partnership Program (TRiPP)
- A dedicated PhD Program with RMIT University supporting six students in areas as diverse as additive manufacturing, food personalisation, emissions monitoring, and autonomous design.
- An Industry 4.0 Industrial Apprenticeship Scheme with AiGroup and Swinburne University
- The support of 12 CSIRO Early Research Career (CERC) Fellows
- Indigenous internship
- Three research symposia on artificial intelligence in robotics with RMIT University and Microsoft.