Our Achievements

With 20 world’s first achievements and counting, we have many reasons to be proud of:

Continuous-Time Sweepmatching SLAM

1 – We are internationally recognised as a pioneer and world-leader in the development and application of highly robust and accurate 2D and 3D Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) technology. We have achieved significant scientific, commercial and reputational impact with the technology, and we continue to actively develop and refine it through internal and external projects with our partners, and in collaboration with our joint venture company GeoSLAM.

2 – Since 2010, we have conducted a large number of projects that focussed on the development and application of SLAM to mapping natural and man-made environments and structures, typically those with significant heritage value. In particular, we were the first in the world to use mobile LiDAR SLAM to map natural caves, such as the Jenolan and Koonalda cave systems [Zlot2014].

3 – This methodology demonstrated orders of magnitude improvement in both survey time, coverage and map detail, compared to traditional survey methods. The challenges of scanning these cave systems and other complex 3D environments with existing hardware led the team to develop the world’s first handheld SLAM-based mapping device – Zebedee [Bosse2012], [BossePatent], which won multiple awards

4 – Other highlights of our work in this area include scanning dinosaur footprints in Western Australia, and the world’s first 3D scan of the interior of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Long-range Fully Autonomous Rotorcraft UAS

We have achieved a number of world-firsts in the development and real-world operation of long-range fully autonomous Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) over the last five years, with a focus on national benefit through application to remote sensing in challenging terrain and remote locations. Some of our most significant research achievements and impacts in this area are:

5 – Invasive Weed Detection – Project ResQu world’s first safe autonomous low-altitude flight beyond line-of-sight, in mountainous terrain and turbulent wind conditions, at the performance and endurance limits of the aircraft [Merz2016].

6 – Crop Monitoring – Pheno-Copter[Chapman2014] pioneered the application of UAS to crop monitoring, which is now becoming a common commercial application of unmanned aircraft, and was a well publicised example of the benefits that robotic aircraft could deliver to agriculture.

– Static Sense and Act system / Autonomous Infrastructure Inspection – this work demonstrated the world’s first autonomous beyond line-of-sight infrastructure inspection mission [Merz2013], and also demonstrated dependable aircraft system operation in an unmapped environment with around ten hours of fully autonomous flight.

8 – Tau Pilot Bio-inspired Flight Control – We developed and extensively experimentally validated a novel bio-inspired autopilot called TauPilot [Kendoul2014], that uses ‘tau’ (τ), or ‘Time-To-Contact’, as the control variable. Tau theory has been proposed to explain how humans and animals control most of their movements.

Hovermap Autonomous Aerial Inspection

9 – Accurate and timely mapping of underground mine geometry such as stopes is critical to the planning, operation and profitability of the mine. Our group has developed an early version of an ideal solution – a prototype UAV payload called Hovermap, which enables fully autonomous UAV operation and collision avoidance in complex environments and GPS-denied areas. By using Hovermap, the team conducted the world’s first fully autonomous UAV flights in an underground mine, where we mapped stops and drives without human intervention.

Agricultural Science Engagements

10 – In partnership with the CSIRO AgricultureDSS GroupRMIT and Meat & Livestock Australia Ltd (MLA) the Robotics group has developed the world’s first intra-rumen experimental gas sensor device [Bishop-Hurley2016] for research into livestock greenhouse gas emissions and feed efficiency.

11 – Smart Ear-TagIn partnership with the CSIRO AgricultureDSS Group and Meat & Livestock Australia Ltd (MLA) the Robotics group has developed a Smart Ear Tag device [Greenwood2014] for research into livestock genetic improvement and precision livestock management. The outcome from this research and development conducted over many years is the commercialisation of the smart ear tag by CERES Tag (a pending patent which provides geolocation, health management, performance measurement and early warning notification of bio-security and livestock breakout).

Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs)

In the last five years the Group has continued to develop a number of autonomous wheeled vehicles for industrial, natural and mining environments.

12 – The group achieved the world’s first automation of a 20 tonne Hot Metal Carrier (HMC) with multiple publications around the perception and safety control of the machine [Borges2013] and a significant engagement with Rio Tinto, which employed the vehicle localisation technology in their fleet in the Bell Bay smelter in Tasmania.

13 – Adding to large-scale vehicles, the Group has more recently focused on smaller vehicles that find application in multiple domains such as the autonomy capability of a driverless John Deere Gator, a multi-purpose vehicle which was retrofitted in-house. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the world’s first implementation capable of achieving such results, and the vehicle has already performed more than 200km of autonomous navigation.

Biosecurity and Science

14 – RapidAIM – Automated Fruit Fly Monitoring: A network of instrumented and wirelessly connected traps automatically detect fruit flies which resulted in the [MoorePatent]. The detections are sent wirelessly in real-time to a cloud-based analytics and storage platform. End-users (growers, agronomists and biosecurity agents) receive real-time alerts on their smartphones when fruit flies are detected. This allows for a rapid response to prevent an outbreak, and to manage fruit fly populations. RapidAIM is a cross business units effort involving staff from A&F, H&B and Data61.

15 & 16 – Camazotz – Low Powered Tracking and Sensor Device: In partnership with CSIRO Biosecurity and the DSS Group, our group has developed Camazotz [Sommer2013], a low power autonomous device that promises to revolutionise long-term tracking of mobile assets, from wildlife such as flying foxes and livestock to public bicycle fleets. This work has resulted in two patents: [AfanasyevPatent] and [MoorePatent].

Mobile Telepresence for Museums

17 – Although others have developed robots to be used in museums, ours is the world’s first effective robot system that enables remote visitors to tour a museum, interact live with a museum educator and watch and hear one another interact.

Legged Robots

Some of our main achievements in the area include:

18 – Multilegged Autonomous eXplorer (MAX): the world’s first ultralight six-legged robot for traversal and exploration of challenging indoor and outdoor environments.

19 – Weaverworld’s first 30 Degree of Freedom (DoF) hexapod robot capable of navigating in uneven terrain and inclines of up to 30 degrees using both proprioceptive and exteroceptive controller adaptation.

20 – Magneto: the first fielded legged robot with electromagnetic feet capable of climbing and traversing 3D ferromagnetic surfaces.

Our Patents

We have several approved patents as well as others pending approval.

Contact us to learn more or to partner with us.