The challenge

Deploying robots into Australia's difficult environments

Australia presents a myriad of difficult environments which challenge the automation of any tasks within them. Whether deep inside a mine, operating non-stop to maintain an array of solar panels, or preserving biosecurity in a rainforest, successful deployment of robots into such environments would provide significant societal and economic impacts, but has to date eluded researchers.

Our response

Evolving robots piece by piece

Although robots struggle in these harsh environments, natural evolution consistently provides specialised life-forms that excel in them. Evolutionary Computing, the artificial analogue of natural evolution is, in essence, a stochastic population-based search algorithm. Using a technique inspired by Darwinian evolution, a population of candidate solutions are iteratively improved for a specific task in a given environment - in evolutionary field robotics, these solutions are either robots or their controllers.

The key benefits of the Evolutionary Field Robotics project include automatically generating control systems using advanced machine learning, and the ability to evolve parts of our robots to specific tasks and environmental conditions.

We focus on automatically generating high-performance controllers for real robots, and developing 'test beds' that allow us to perform such optimisation, for either legged or flying robots.

Bioinspired neural controllers allow our multirotors to adapt to environmental conditions faster than traditional controllers, and our advanced modelling algorithms automatically generate human-readable mathematical models of the robot.

Our robots need to work in the real world, so we also develop methods to make the transfer between simulation and reality more seamless.

As well as controller generation, we also study morphological evolution, for example evolving a hexapods leg for high performance in specific environments. Our science continues to generate many publications that are accepted for top-ranked venues.

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The Robotics and Autonomous Systems

Group at CSIRO's Data61 is based in

Brisbane, Australia, housed within CSIRO's

Queensland Centre for Advanced

Technologies. The Robotics Innovation

Centre is a collaboration hub designed

to facilitate robotics research

collaboration and development in

Australia. Situated on 50 acres of

grassland, outdoor tracts and industrial

areas, we have state-of-the-art testing

areas for air, ground, underwater and

underground robots. Our infrastructure

also includes a motion capture system,

mechatronics labs and 3D printers. We

work with a broad range of industries

and are open for collaboration. Our

research includes autonomous cars as

well as leg to aerial and aquatic robots.

Want to partner with us or use our

research facilities? Contact us to learn

more.

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Our facilities - RAS

The results

Creating more adaptive robots

The future will see our algorithms deployed across an increasing number of CSIRO's robotics platforms, and the development of increasingly complex and capable robot morphologies.

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