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Legacy of a ‘Positive Disruptor’

Australian Centre for Robotic Vision Chief Operating Officer Dr Sue Keay, after four-and-a-half years at the world-first research hub, is forging a new path with Australia’s national science agency.

The bona fide Superstar of STEM – one of the first named by Science & Technology Australia in 2017 – steps into the position of Cyber Physical Systems Research Director at CSIRO’s Data61 in January 2019.

“We’re certainly going to miss Sue, but Australia will continue to benefit from her passion and tenacity as a positive disruptor,” says Centre Director Peter Corke.

“Sue helped build our ARC Centre of Excellence from scratch, understanding that the breakthrough science and technologies needed to create a new generation of ‘truly useful’ robots – able to see and understand the environments they work in – could only be achieved through concerted, large-scale and collaborative effort.

“As part of this, Sue has not only successfully driven the Centre’s strategic direction, in the process drawing national recognition as a powerful advocate for transformational change and champion for diversity in all its forms, but helped shape a national agenda developing Australia’s first Robotics Roadmap.

“I know I speak for all at the Centre and on behalf of our diverse stakeholders across Australia and globally, in wishing her continued success.”

Recognised as one of Queensland’s most influential people, Dr Keay has been the Chief Operating Officer of the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision since it was created in 2014.

Over the past four years, her achievements include development of a successful $1.5-million R&D project on humanoid robotics supported by the Queensland Government to explore the vision capabilities of Softbank’s social robot, Pepper; and delivery of A Robotics Roadmap for Australia 2018.

Building on Australia’s strengths in robot talent and technologies in niche application areas, the Roadmap is best described as a guide to how Australia can support a vibrant robotics industry that supports automation across all sectors of the economy.

“Sue put her heart and soul into its development,” said Professor Corke.

“The Roadmap’s release in June, followed submissions and workshops with leaders in academia, industry and government, across key sectors including resources, built and natural environment, manufacturing, services, agriculture, defence and healthcare.”

In a personal ‘win’ as a champion for diversity, Dr Keay has been the driver behind the realisation of Hopper Down Under coming to Brisbane 29-31 July 2019.

Click here for ‘Save the Date’ details about the event; a little sister of sorts to the Grace Hopper Celebration – the world’s largest gathering of women technologists produced by AnitaB.org in the United States. Staged annually, it draws 18,000+ attendees from 81 countries.

Dr Keay travelled to Houston to meet with AnitaB.org in September inviting them to bring the Grace Hopper Celebration to Australia.

Hopper Down Under is set to become an annual celebration and, in its inaugural year, has expanded to cover the Asia-Pacific region. Look out for more details in the New Year about the event, which will include technical and career development sessions, including Poster Sessions, a Career Fair, a Tech Expo, Mentoring Circles, and more.

In her new role at CSIRO’s Data61 – itself a partner organisation of the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision – Dr Keay will lead research encompassing robotics and autonomous systems, distributed sensing networks, 3D mapping, AI-enabled computer vision and cybernetics.

A strong advocate of a collaborative, multi-sector approach, she will also continue to advocate recommendations contained in the Robotics Roadmap, focusing on ways industry, government, educational institutions, investors and the wider public can better harness new and emerging technologies.

The Roadmap outlines how the so-called fourth industrial revolution, characterised by automation and increasing use of robots, will not replace but create jobs and boost Australia’s productivity by $2.2 trillion.

Created as a ‘living document’, it aims to create grounds for necessary co-operation to allow robots to help unlock human potential, modernise the economy and build national health, well-being and sustainability.

“I’m proud of my work at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision and indebted to lessons learned there, not least being that a leader is only as good as his or her team,” Dr Keay said.

“As Chief Operating Officer at the Centre, I have been surrounded by the world’s best researchers. I look forward to watching them continue to achieve the vision of creating truly useful robots able to see and understand for the good of all people and our planet.

“I look forward to continuing to play a part in building Australia’s future. A prosperous Australia that embraces new and transformative technologies to bolster national health, well-being and sustainability, in turn overcoming challenges of our vast and remote geography.”

With interests in entrepreneurship and disruptive technologies, Dr Keay recently completed her MBA with UQ Business School. A graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, she serves on the Board of the CRC for Optimising Resource Extraction and the expert advisory panel of Queensland.AI and mentors female-led start-up companies.

A university medallist and Jaeger scholar, Dr Keay has more than 20 years’ experience in the research sector. She has a PhD in Earth Sciences from the Australian National University and was an ARC post-doctoral fellow at The University of Queensland, before escaping the lab and moving first to science communication and then into research management, research commercialisation and IP management.

Dr Keay bids farewell to the Centre on 21 December. The position of Chief Operating Officer will be advertised in the New Year.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Shelley Thomas
Communications Specialist, Australian Centre for Robotic Vision
P: +61 7 3138 4265 | M: +61 416 377 444 | E: shelley.thomas@qut.edu.au

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.

Posted December 18, 2018

Australian Centre for Robotic Vision
2 George Street Brisbane, 4001
+61 7 3138 7549