What is a Cobot?
The name cobot is a derivative of “collaborative robot“. Cobots are robots that work collaboratively with people in a shared workspace. They offer more adaptability and flexibility than robots and contain safety devices such as sensors that allow them to work safely with humans. Rather than replacing a human, cobots can augment the work of humans by undertaking discrete tasks within a bigger job. They can be used to do the parts of a job that are dangerous or require higher levels of physical strength, or that are highly repetitive, potentially reducing injury and incident rates. Cobots are designed for direct interaction with human workers, to combine the knowledge, expertise and flexible decision-making of humans with the strength, speed and endurance of a lightweight, usually mobile robot.
Collaborative robotics offers solutions to the main challenges currently faced by Australia’s SME-dominant manufacturing industry:
- Manufacturing is diversifying, with commercial advantages open to companies who can achieve process innovation or integrated service offerings.
- Digitisation and consumer demand are shifting manufacturing toward customisation and bespoke products. This has resulted in complex and demand-driven manufacturing processes which do not lend themselves to full automation but require some element of human-robot collaboration to be efficient, safe, cost-effective and of high quality.
Collaborative robotics will benefit Australian companies, especially small businesses (who will win on process innovation and lower costs), manufacturing workers (whose jobs will become safer and higher-skilled), and the economy (through the growth of jobs and exports).
The Australian Cobotics Centre will bring together expertise and experience from industry and research to improve the collaborative robotics capability within Australian manufacturing and to assist with the challenges and changes that occur with the implementation of new technology.
Our vision is to transform the Australian manufacturing industry and increase global competitivity through the deployment of collaborative robots.
- Foster opportunities for PhDs and postdocs to pursue industrial training
- Enhance competitive research collaboration between universities and other non-Higher Education sector organisations
- Strengthen the collaborative robotics capabilities of industry and research end-users
- Drive growth, productivity and competitiveness by linking to key growth sectors
The Centre is supported by an advisory board of industry, government and academic leaders.
The Advisory Board ensures the Centre considers key current and emerging issues, delivers economic value for Australia and maintains a strong strategic focus. The Advisory Board is led by Dr Sue Keay, CEO of Queensland AI.
The Centre’s governance structure also includes an Industry Partner board, Program Board, Executive committee and the Open Innovation Network.
The Centre’s Open Innovation Network is also instrumental in achieving the objectives of the Centre through its communication of the research and its industry impact and by facilitating knowledge sharing within the Centre and beyond.
The Centre’s core values reflect who we are and how we approach our work.
Everything we do is E.P.I.C:
Excellent – World leading research with transformational outcomes for industry in a sustainable way.
People-centric – Positive, inclusive and supportive people building a workforce for the future.
Innovative – Forward thinking solutions created for industry through interdisciplinary research.
Collaborative – Working across organisations and Unified in a shared goal to transform Australian manufacturing.
As part of the Australian Research Council’s broader Linkage Program that promotes research partnerships between university researchers and business, industry, or community organisations, the Industrial Transformation Training Centre (ITTC) scheme was established as part of the Industrial Transformation Research Program to drive growth, productivity and competitiveness of priority industries.
Generally, ITTCs are collaborations across 2 or more Australian Universities with a number of ‘Partner Organisations’ (PO’s) that offer expertise and experience in the relevant industries. All partners provide cash and/ or in-kind contributions that may include staffing, materials, equipment etc. The key difference between ITTC’s and the Research Hubs in the scheme are that the priority for the ITTC is to foster opportunities for Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidates to pursue innovative, and industry relevant, research training.
The main premise of the Centre’s is to train researchers in ‘priority’ research industries that are vital to Australia’s future – in this case, advanced manufacturing. This provide industry with highly skilled researchers and researchers with experience of working with industry and therefore future job opportunities.
As part of each Centre’s research funding agreement, ITTCs are required to provide a variety of specialised research training opportunities for the HDRs involved. This includes a 12 month (equivalent) placement placement with one or more of the Centre’s industry partners. This means in the partner organisation’s workplace (not within the university sector), to allow the HDR student to gain experience in industry environments – and the transferrable skills that are part of that.
Since the scheme’s first round in 2013, a total of 57 ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centres have now been awarded funding offering hundreds of HDRs opportunities to conduct research and gain valuable skills and experience across diverse industries, while solving industry ‘problems’.