CSIRO’s Data61 has been focusing on supporting and expanding Australia’s robotics prowess - developing piloted and autonomous machines that are better suited to dangerous, inaccessible and risky environments such as emergency situations, underwater environments, industrial and agricultural environments and rough, unstructured terrain.

Our world leading robotics research group has worked with industries such as aerospace, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, biosecurity, and others.

Ain't no mountain high enough for these legged robots.  ©CSIRO, Navinda Kottege

Machines that see - Sensing and mapping the world 

We take the sensory input of environmental information for granted - Data61’s robotic and autonomous devices must feature these skills from scratch. Hovermap is a 3D mapping system that uses LIDAR (light detection and ranging) technology, combined with Data61’s proprietary Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) solution. Hovermap works in conjunction with a UAV (uncrewed autonomous vehicle), and can map both indoor and outdoor locations without relying on GPS. SLAM is also used in Zebedee, a hand-held version of the same mapping system. 

Zebedee, our high-accuracy 3D laser mapping technology, was commercialised and is already being used around the world by 25 multinational organisations. It was recently trialled by the International Atomic Energy Agency in nuclear safeguards inspections.

Location sensing devices have been deployed in our Camazotz system - named after a Mayan bat god, Camazotz is a small, portable device that is used to monitor flying foxes across Australia, helping ecologists understand  and predict the spread of disease. The Wireless Ad hoc System for Positioning (WASP) uses similar tags to track vehicles and mine workers relative to reference nodes - assisting with safety and boosting productivity. 

[Music plays and logo appears on screen:  Data 61 CSIRO Creating our Data Driven Future, www.data61.com.au.  Animated images of bats fly off screen]

 [Different music plays and text appears on screen:  Introducing Camazotz: A Platform for Sustainable Tracking]

[Image appears on screen of flying foxes in trees in background with person’s hand holding tracking device in foreground] 

Dr Raja Jurdak:  Camazotz was developed as a wearable device for wildlife and animals in general. 

[Image shows Dr Raja Jurdak, Principal Research Scientist, Research Group Leader, Distributed Sensing Systems, CSIRO] 

It allows tracking of their position and their condition as they go around in the landscape. 

[Image shows flying fox hanging in tree] 

Flying foxes are also known as fruit bats. 

[Image changes to show other flying foxes in tree] 

They eat fruits from the environment and they release the seed from the fruits into other parts of the environment. 

[Images flash between Dr Raja Jurdak and flying foxes in trees] 

In that sense they’re important seed dispersal agents which help in pollination across the ecosystem. 

On the other hand flying foxes are known to be carriers of the Hendra Virus which spreads from bats to horses and sometimes to humans. 

It’s important to track where they’re going to better understand them and manage them. 

One thing about bats is that they’re highly mobile and it’s very difficult to track them as they go around the landscape.

[Image shows tracking device being attached to flying fox] 

So you put the technology on the bat, it uses solar panels to get energy from the environment which allows it to last for a very long time. 

The bat flies off and then every time they come back you get detailed data of where they have been and the context around that. 

[Image shows Dr Jurdak installing a base station] 

To retrieve the data we’ve installed base stations across the eastern coast of Australia. 

[Images flash between flying foxes in trees, a base station, a map showing data flow of tracking information] 

Whenever the animals come back to their roosting camp they communicate wirelessly to the base stations and then the data just flows onto to the cloud where we can visualise it on a map and do all sorts of analysis on it. 

[Images flash between Dr Raja Jurdak and flying foxes in trees] 

This technology provides autonomous tracking that can run near perpetually without any human intervention.  Other applications for this technology include logistics, transport, defence, personal safety and even bicycle tracking and hikers in remote places. 

Camazotz is actually the name of a Mayan bat god which is why we chose it for our technology. 

[Image shows Dr Raja Jurdak] 

At Data 61 we’re all about creating Australia’s data driven future.

[Music plays and credits appear on screen followed by logo Data 61 CSIRO Creating our Data Driven Future, www.data61.com.au]

               

Introducing Camazotz: A Platform for Sustainable Tracking

Equal footing - legged robots traversing hazards

Ensuring robots can operate safely, securely and efficiently in hazardous and rapidly changing environments is a challenge, with several organisations around the world dedicated time and effort to developing robotic systems that can deftly navigate through these environments.

Data61’s legged robots are helping industries address these challenges. Zee is a prototype hexapod robot equipped with a streaming camera sensor and a real-time 3D scanning LIDAR. Zee’s big sister, Weaver, features five joints per leg and 30 degrees of freedom. Weaver can self-stabilise through ‘exteroceptive’ sensing - enabling the robot to walk up gradients of 30°, and remain stable on inclines up to 50°.

MaX (Multi-legged autonomous explorer) is even bigger - 2.25m tall when standing up straight. But MaX only weighs 60kg; around 5 to 20 times lighter than comparable robots. MaX is a research vehicle designed to help our scientists understand how to traverse and explore challenging indoor and outdoor environments. Magnapods are Data61’s wall-climbing, electro-magnetic inspection robots, useful in confined space inspection tasks and capable of carrying a 10 kilogram sensor payload. 

The Multi-legged Autonomous explorer demonstrating movement  © CSIRO

You can read more about the scientific goals of our legged robot research program here .

Going it alone - autonomous aerial, underwater and ground vehicles

Creating systems that can navigate and respond without human intervention is a key component in removing the human element from tasks that are dangerous or poorly suited for human control. We’ve developed several ground vehicles normally used in industrial environments that can operate without human intervention, including the Gator, the load haul dump vehicle and the 20 tonne hot metal carrier.

The Gator system demonstrating autonomous navigation and obstacle avoidance.  © CSIRO AutonomousSystemsLab

Our Science Rover enabled the complicated process of satellite calibration - the autonomous vehicle collects measurements at the same time an Earth observation satellite passes overhead - the two datasets are compared, and the satellite is calibrated. Our underwater autonomous vehicle, Starbug, uses underwater sensor networks to locate itself (GPS signals cannot be used underwater), enabling smart underwater data collection for the protecting and tracking of ecosystems.

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