FrontierSI contributes to National Robotics Strategy

July 27, 2023

Industry leaders from Australia’s robotic sector provided feedback to the Department of Industry, Science and Resources consultation on the National Robotics Strategy Discussion Paper.

FrontierSI supports the vision for interoperable robotics in Australia. Our submission to the strategy focuses on the key role that space and spatial technologies can play in seizing the opportunities granted to Australia in robotics, centred around four themes.

Theme 1: National capability

  • From farms to the Moon. The increasing adoption of automated machine control has transformed Australian mines, construction sites and farms over the past two decades. Australia’s world-class expertise in remote operations has transferred value between industries on the ground and in space with the AROSE Moon rover concept. Testbeds and sandbox environments are key for the development, demonstration, and adoption of robotic technologies across different industries.
  • Precise positioning as an enabler of field robotics. FrontierSI strongly recommend that the sector consider improving positioning and sensing technologies as high priority capabilities. Existing technologies can already provide an absolute and interoperable position and timing reference frame, but further work is required to improve accuracy and reliability.
  • Encouraging collaboration and accelerating commercialisation. FrontierSI recommends the Government design and implement national ‘grand challenges’ to converge the robotics and automation ecosystem in Australia. These challenges will additionally provide industry-wide security that allows for longevity in commercial business planning, enabling private industry to invest in meaningful, longer-term collaboration with research organisations.

Theme 2: Trust, inclusion and responsible development and use

  • Impact and Opportunities. FrontierSI recommends that the strategy include the significant opportunities for the use of robotics and automation technologies in off-Earth applications. Successful pursuit of these opportunities is vital to building resilience in Australia’s critical infrastructure and national security from space.
  • Trust and approval of robotics and automation. Robotics solutions of the existing solutions they are replacing, so they can be seen as reliable and trusted problem-solving tools. A successful robotics strategy will deliver growth and value that is human centred and measured by social, economic, and environmental impact.

Theme 3: Skills and diversity

  • Robotics to train and attract a new workforce. The idea of working on a farm with robotics is an opportunity to not only attract a new generation of workers into the industry but bring together talent not only from across Australia’s STEM, Arts and Humanities sectors into regional towns that highlight Australia’s natural environment.
  • Early inspiration. We believe that being inspired to follow a career in science & technology happens early in life, so it is important to support our teachers’ professional development, as they are critical to instilling inspiration and educating the next generation.

Theme 4:  Increasing adoption

  • Use of Australian-made products. Accelerating operational use of robotics should consider business model approaches such as robots-as-a-service that could help accelerate adoption of new technologies.
  • Communications, positioning, and spatial data. This data is the infrastructure needed for robotics to be efficiently deployed. For example, the lack of supporting infrastructure and digital information about properties and crops are cited as barriers to the adoption of field robots in the agriculture, viticulture, and horticulture sectors.
  • Industries benefitting from robotics and automation. Sectors such as Resources, Agriculture, Construction, and Maritime provide controlled and structured environments with limited public interaction, where trust and approval can be steadily built up. Successful adoption relies on capturing and developing structured systems, processes, and knowledge for interoperability.

Read FrontierSI’s full submission here.