University of Sydney, Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR)

Sun, Surf and Automation:
A Decade of Field Robotics in Australia

Australia is a large, sparsely populated, resource rich country a long way from anywhere; and is consequently the ideal place to do field robotics. The past decade has seen substantial technical development and investment in field robotics, especially in civilian applications such as cargo handling, mining, agriculture and marine environments; applications which are of central importance to the Australian economy. This talk will describe a number of technical advances in the areas of perception, large machine control, and systems engineering that have enabled significant progress in the “science” of field robotics and which have led to significant commercial developments especially in cargo handling, mining and marine systems. The talk will also aim to look forward to the next decade, what technical challenges need to be addressed and where the opportunities for future commercial developments will come from.


Hugh Durrant-Whyte received the B.Sc. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of London, U.K., in 1983, and the M.S.E. and Ph.D. degrees, both in Systems Engineering, from the University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., in 1985 and 1986, respectively. From 1987 to 1995, he was a University Lecturer in Engineering Science, the University of Oxford, U.K. and a Fellow of Oriel College Oxford. Since 1995 he has been Professor of Mechatronic Engineering at University of Sydney where he leads the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR). He has been awarded two Australian Research Council (ARC) Federation Fellowships; in 2002 and 2007. His research work focuses on robotics and sensor networks. His work in applications includes automation in cargo handling, surface and underground mining, defence, unmanned flight vehicles and autonomous sub-sea vehicles. He has published over 350 research papers and has won numerous awards and prizes for his work. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and an IEEE Robotics Society Distinguished Lecturer.