Remember Cartman? Not US sitcom South Park’s most pugnacious character, but a super-savvy robot, built from scratch by an Australian Centre for Robotic Vision team, acing last year’s Amazon Robotics Challenge in Japan.
Staking its claim as the only custom-built Cartesian robot at the global challenge – and packing a doubly powerful punch as the cheapest – Cartman knocked out 16 major academic and industry research teams from 10 countries to claim the $80,000USD first prize.
The success story features in the Australian Research Council’s latest snapshot, Making a difference – Outcomes of ARC supported research, released this week, casting a spotlight on ‘remarkable research delivering social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits’ to all Australians.
Taking Cartman’s legacy further, Dr Juxi Leitner, who led the Centre’s 22-member team to victory, solving a real-world challenge for global giant Amazon via use of a smart Cartesian robot to pick and stow warehouse items in an unstructured environment, has ventured into the world of start-ups.
The brainchild of Juxi and fellow Amazon Robotics Challenge team member, Norton Kelly-Boxall, Cartman Technologies is among the line-up of 2018 finalists selected by QUT bluebox Robotics Accelerator program.
“Robotics is about enhancing human life in some way and, ultimately, a way for communities and individuals to truly connect,” said Juxi, a Research Fellow and Project Leader (Manipulation and Vision) at the world-first Australian Centre for Robotic Vision, headquartered in Brisbane at Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
“The development of an innovative and meaningful robotics industry, with robots, able to see and understand environments they work in, including in the home, will give people precious time back.
“Like Bill Gates’ vision of ‘a computer on every desk and in every home’, think about the positive impact of smart, affordable robots in every home. A utopian not dystopian future!”
Excited by the prospect of translating research into real-world applications via a start-up – with robotics and automation also positioned to shoulder the three D’s in industry, namely ‘dull, dangerous and dirty’ work – Juxi said the venture would not have been possible without a dynamic culture of innovation fostered at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision.
“Incredible passion flows from the Centre’s Director Professor Peter Corke, whose philosophy is simple: make something awesome!
“The Centre also has possibly the biggest university robotics Lab in the world, with the largest pool of PhD students working alongside the world’s top researchers. So, it’s a place where awesome things happen every day.”
Launched in 2014 and funded by the Australian Research Council, the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision is the first research centre of its kind on the planet to focus on the critical challenge of marrying computer vision and robotics. A hurdle considered the “Last Frontier” in creating truly useful robots.
“We are the largest robotic vision group in the world with more than 200 people and $25.6 million funding over seven years,” said Centre Chief Operating Officer Dr Sue Keay.
“Our research programs are developing technologies to harness rich information from visual data to enable robots to perceive the world and be truly useful to humans, improving the way we live and work.
“We are already applying our transformative technologies to help solve real challenges in the monitoring and protection of natural environments; provision of healthcare in hospitals and at home; sustainable food production; and efficiently harnessing our natural resources.”
Dr Keay applauded the new start-up venture, launched off the back of the Centre’s team victory at the 2017 Amazon Robotics Challenge.
“The Centre’s culture is all about creating a vibrant, collaborative, high-energy and future-focused robotic vision community, developing knowledge leaders for both industry and academia,” she said.
“A big part of that is not just leading the world in transformational research, but fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and new enterprises to advance robotic vision and expand the capabilities of robots for the good of all people and our planet.”
Cartman’s success story, as showcased in the new ARC publication, is just one of the Centre’s milestones in making a very real difference.
Check out a snapshot of achievements below:
Communications Specialist, Australian Centre for Robotic Vision
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About The Australian Centre for Robotic Vision
The Australian Centre for Robotic Vision is an ARC Centre of Excellence, funded for $25.6 million over seven years to form the largest collaborative group of its kind generating internationally impactful science and new technologies that will transform important Australian industries and provide solutions to some of the hard challenges facing Australia and the globe. Formed in 2014, the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision is the world’s first research centre specialising in robotic vision. They are a group of researchers on a mission to develop new robotic vision technologies to expand the capabilities of robots. Their work will give robots the ability to see and understand for the sustainable well-being of people and the environments we live in. The Australian Centre for Robotic Vision has assembled an interdisciplinary research team from four leading Australian research universities: QUT, The University of Adelaide (UoA), The Australian National University (ANU), and Monash University as well as CSIRO’s Data61 and overseas universities and research organisations including INRIA Rennes Bretagne, Georgia Institute of Technology, Imperial College London, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, University of Toronto, and the University of Oxford.
Australian Centre for Robotic Vision
2 George Street Brisbane, 4001
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