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SAGE Prize for Innovation/Excellence awarded to Centre’s researchers

Congratulations to our ‘Human-Robot Workforce’ reSAGE Journalssearchers, co-lead Dr Penny Williams and Chief Investigator Prof Paula McDonald on being awarded the SAGE Prize for Innovation and Excellence in the Work, Employment and Society journal.

The prize is awarded annually to one paper in each of the BSA’s prestigious journals: Cultural Sociology, Sociological Research Online, Sociology and Work, Employment and Society and is awarded to the paper published in the previous year’s volume judged to represent innovation or excellence in the field.

Their paper, Means of Control in the Organization of Digitally Intermediated Care Work, can be found here: Means of Control in the Organization of Digitally Intermediated Care Work – Paula McDonald, Penny Williams, Robyn Mayes, 2021 (sagepub.com)

2022 Winners

Work, Employment and Society

Sociology

Cultural Sociology

  • Please watch this space for details.

Sociological Research Online

  • Please watch this space for details.

 

Australian Network for Art & Technology (ANAT) Residency at ARM Hub and Cobotics Centre

We are pleased to announce that the ARM Hub (and Australian Cobotics Centre) will be hosting Dr Steph Hutchinson through an Australian Network for Art & Technology (ANAT) Residency over the second half of 2022.

ANAT’s prestigious flagship program has supported creative research collaborations between more than 100 artists and scientists, since it was established in 2004.

ANAT Synapse involves Australian science organisations hosting artists in residence, leading to profound artistic and professional development for the participants, while also building a sustainable support base for interdisciplinary creative collaboration in Australia.

The Project entitled, Cobotic Improvisations, draws on dance improvisation and choreographic methodologies to research how humans might predict the movement of their robot collaborators. The ARM Hub and the Australian Cobotics Centre have the potential to benefit from the embodied practice methods and viewing human-robot collaboration through a new lens – choreographic, improvisation and embodied practice. The capacity of choreographic and dance improvisational methods enable Steph to quickly prototype and perform different scenarios. And, the sensitivity of the dancer to read the relationships within the environment have the potential to inform interaction and test the thresholds of comfortability of both humans and robots in close collaborative environments. Steph’s work will help the fundamental research in how humans can predict how a robot is about to move, which is a very under investigated issue in robotics.

The project is closely linked to the Centre’s Human-Robot Interaction program.

Meet our E.P.I.C. Researcher, Associate Professor Glenda Caldwell

Associate Professor Glenda CaldwellThe Australian Cobotics Centre has some incredibly E.P.I.C. researchers. Each month we will be profiling a different researcher. Associate Professor Glenda Caldwell, co-Lead of the ‘Designing Socio-Technical Robotics Systems‘ program and the Centre’s Open Innovation Network, is kicking things off.

We sat down with Glenda recently to find out more about why she does what she does.

  • Tell us a bit about yourself and your research with the Centre?

My disciplinary background is in Architecture with a particular interest in computational design and digital fabrication. I have always been fascinated – a little intimidated and inspired – by technology (software and hardware) and its impact on how we make things, how it impacts our design processes, and our ability to visualise and communicate our ideas. The research we are doing in Program 3: Designing Socio-Technical Robotic Systems looks to explore and further understand what and how human centered design methods and processes can facilitate or drive the integration, implementation and adoption of Collaborative Robots into manufacturing tasks of industry partners. We explore the human factors such as ergonomics and motivation, the design factors such as use of space, design of systems and robotic tools, and the virtual factors such as use of VR to simulate and validate cobotic tasks in safe virtual environments. We intend to use design approaches to take the people on the workshop floor on the journey with us of exploring how and why a cobot can improve the manufacturing tasks they are working on. The outcomes we seek will deliver safer working environments that are more productive and efficient while more importantly will also be more enjoyable and stimulating for humans working collaboratively with robots.

  • Why did you decide to be a part of the Australian Cobotics Centre?

I see being a part of the Australian Cobotics Centre as a natural next step and evolution from the completed IMCRC Design Robotics Project where I was a Chief Investigator. There were many research opportunities that arose from that project where we could see the tremendous value for further Cobotics research in manufacturing. The ACC provides opportunities to work with researchers from a range of disciplines and backgrounds from UTS, Swinburne and QUT while collaborating with diverse industry partners who create different types of products using different manufacturing processes and materials. This mixture and breadth of expertise from both the academics and the industry sides is super exciting and essential to collaborate on and address the different challenges and many opportunities for cobotic solutions. This is an ideal test bed for progressing impactful design and cobotic research which is emerging in recognition not only in manufacturing but in other sectors such as construction and for helping to develop the next research superstars who are embarking on their own research and career journeys.

  • What project are you most proud of throughout your career and why?

During my PhD I was able to secure internal seed funding for a project called the InstaBooth, a purpose designed and built pop-up interactive booth for community engagement. Its purpose was to include and capture the voices of people from public places and assist in their communication and envisioning of the city they wanted to live in.  This tiny, but quick to grow large, project was highly collaborative with colleagues from across disciplines, with other PhD students, undergraduate students, other universities including California Polytechnic University and University of Sydney, and numerous community partners. The project was creative, collaborative, and so much fun while also highly impactful not only for the researchers and students involved but also for the community members who participated and engaged with it. I am most proud of this project.

  • What do you hope the long-term impact of your work will be?

My ambition and long -term impact of my work will not only be for the successful design of the integration of cobots into our industry partners’ manufacturing lines but also more broadly to the manufacturing and construction industry demonstrating that human centered design is essential in creating workspaces, places, and processes that respond to the needs of humans while being safe, efficient, and sustainable. I am driven by openness, collaboration and creativity for innovative outcomes and hope that these key ingredients will help to create environments that support gender equity in research and climate responsible processes and solutions.

  • Aside from your research, what topic could you give an hour-long presentation on with little to no preparation?

I could talk about teaching in Architecture or Research Methods. I could talk broadly about Computational Architecture and Design Robotics. My other research topics – Media Architecture (can put together quickly) or Human Building Interaction (would need time to put this together though) is something I could also talk about. I could also talk about being an academic and a mum, and the juggle of work life balance : )

Glenda also works with the QUT Design Lab. Read more about one of Glenda’s recent projects which was a collaboration between QUT,  Griffith University, The University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, and Monash University: Transforming Aged Care with Virtual Reality.

17th International DESIGN Festival paper published

A Life-Cycle Framework to Manage Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange in Open Organisation

 

We are very proud to announce the Centre’s first official publication authored by the Centre’s Open Innovation Team – Dr Matthias Guertler, former CI Prof Nico Adams, A/Prof Glenda Caldwell and A/Prof Jared Donovan.

The paper was accepted as part of the International DESIGN Conference held from 23-26th May. The paper presents and evaluates the first part of a framework to manage successful collaboration and knowledge exchange across the entire life cycle an Open Organisation (OO).

 

You can read the full paper here: Design Conference Paper Template (cambridge.org)

Changes to our Swinburne Chief Investigators

We are sad to announce the departure of two of our Program co-Leads from Swinburne University of Technology.

  • Professor XiaoQi Chen is moving to South China University of Technology where he will be the new Dean of the School of Intelligent Engineering.
  • Professor Sally McArthur is moving to Deakin University where she will be Director of the Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM).

Thank you XiaoQi and Sally for your input and support in shaping the Centre so far. We wish you the best in your new roles.

In their places, we welcome Dr Michelle DunnDr John McCormick and Assoc Prof Chris McCarthy to the Australian Cobotics Centre.

Dr Michelle Dunn will take over the co-leadership of program 4 with Dr Lee Clemon from UTS and Assoc Prof Mats Isaksson will become co-lead of Program 1 with Prof Teresa Vidal-Calleja from UTS.

Welcome to our first PhD Researchers!

We would like to officially welcome our first PhD students to the Centre.

Baris Balci, is based at QUT and his project is part of the Biomimic Cobots Program. Baris received his BSc degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Ozyegin University in 2018. During his undergraduate studies, he was a research assistant at OzU Robotics Lab where he worked on medical robotics, haptics, and planetary rovers. His current research interests include robotic manufacturing and physical human-robot interaction.

Jagannatha Pyaraka is based at Swinburne and his project is part of the Biomimic Cobots Program. Jagannatha received his Bachelor of Engineering degree from GITAM Deemed University in 2018 and Masters degree in Mechatronics, Robotics and Automation Engineering in 2021 from Swinburne University of Technology. Following his undergraduate degree, he worked as a Senior QA Automation Engineer at NTT DATA Services. Jagan is excited to continue to work  in the field of Robotics/Automation that serves and inspires society in leading a simple and better quality of life.

What has Star Wars influenced over the last 45 years

Centre Director, Professor Jonathan Roberts, spoke with Sirine Demachkie on Weekend Evenings on ABC Radio about the influence of Star Wars.

Jonathan is an expert on Star Wars, which he first saw after queueing around the block for tickets with his brother and parents to see the original film in 1977. He has maintained an active interest in all things Star Wars, especially droids, since that time.

Listen below and read his article in The Conversation – Star Wars turns 40 and it still inspires our real life space junkies (theconversation.com).  Note- this article is 5 years old but still very relevant!

QUT robotics researchers have a new robotic best friend

The Australian Cobotics Centre’s Associate PhD Student, Marisa Bucolo, was recently featured in the Queensland University of Technology News as one of the QUT Robotics Researchers teaching Spot new tricks. Spot is an agile mobile robot that navigates terrain with unprecedented mobility, allowing you to automate routine inspection tasks and data capture safely, accurately, and frequently.

Bucolo, working with Professor Matt Dunbabin, Centre Director Jonathan Roberts and Program 2 Co-lead Jared Donovan, is using Spot to study how robots can signal their intentions to people.

Click below to read the full article titled ‘QUT robotic researchers teaching Spot new tricks’ the – Queensland University of Technology News.

Read the full article here

Collaborative Robotics: Helping to create a safer workplace and more engaged workforce

Cobotics can help create safer working environments for people. This is particularly important within Australian manufacturing, an industry with one of the highest incident rates for serious claims of work-related injury or disease (Key work health and safety statistics, Australia 2021 | Safe Work Australia).

Our Industry Partners have always been committed to continually improving health and safety of their workers and for many, this desire to consistently improve is one of the main drivers for their involvement with the Centre.

So, how can cobots create a safer workplace?

Cobotics can allow workers to avoid the dirty, repetitive, and hazardous tasks they currently encounter and instead focus on high-detail and knowledge led tasks that a robot cannot do, such as finishing and quality assurance work, programming and servicing cobotic technology, and other highly skilled and knowledgeable tasks.

Cobots allow workers to be removed from potentially hazardous situations through:

  • Decreased time spent on activities that expose the worker to dangerous substances– e.g. cobotic welding or spray painting
  • Reduction in repetitious tasks removing the risk of repetitious strain injuries
  • Remote operation to reduce the risk of injury to the worker. e.g. through operating machinery, handling dangerous materials, or working in confined spaces

One of the Centre’s industry partners, InfraBuild, has a Safety Vision where every employee returns home fit and well at the end of each workday. One of their principles in achieving their vision is to be always alert to hazards.

“As a steel producer, our process involves casting 80 tonnes of 1640°C liquid steel into 2050kg billets and rolling those billets at 1050°C into bar and rod products”, describes InfraBuild’s Andrew Thomas. “Our most effective hazard control is elimination and we see cobots as providing opportunities to remove our operators from what are hazardous workplaces by virtue of the high temperature,  volume and energy of the steel.”

The Centre’s researchers and engineers are working with InfraBuild to research and develop a high-speed sensing and control system that is capable of identifying and moving steel rods and bars with the ability to be able to work safely within relative proximity of their operators. This will result in better working conditions for employees who will supervise the cobot, reducing manual handling tasks and risk of injury.

The project team are careful to ensure any new technology does not introduce new or increase existing hazards to InfraBuild employees.  Ideally it will also increase the health and wellness of their employees. Andrew notes that this can be achieved by including the employees in the design and implementation of the solution and reducing uncertainty for employees through, open and honest communication with employees around the benefits and reasons for introducing technology.

Cobotics also offers organisations an opportunity to attract and retain workers. With labour shortages across the industry, it is important that organisations focus not just on the physical safety of their workplace, but also the ongoing opportunities for existing staff to be exposed to, and learn new skills; and the ability to broaden workforce participation by offering work that relies less on specific physical capabilities.

The Australian Cobotics Centre’s researchers are working with partners to identify solutions can improve a worker’s employment through the development of new skills, and more generally, allowing greater diversity and longevity in the workforce.

This is a priority for our industry partners who want to ensure they have a healthy, safe and engaged workforce.

The Centre has research projects that focus on:

You can read more about InfraBuild’s commitment to Safety here: Safety at InfraBuild – InfraBuild

Further details about our partners and projects can be found via www.australiancobotics.org.

Happy World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development!

Happy World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development!

Today we recognise and celebrate the contribution of engineers and the importance their work plays in building a sustainable, secure, healthy and better world.

Engineering is crucial to the development of new technologies enabling the 4th Industrial Revolution such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, robotics or quantum computing.  The strength of our Australian Cobotics Centre is its team of multi-disciplinary researchers and industry partners.  But today we celebrate our Centre’s engineers who hold undergraduate and post graduate degrees in Aerospace Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Robotics, Mechatronics, Automation, Manufacturing, Materials Engineering and  Engineering Physics. This range of engineering skills and experience is being used to develop robots that are able to mimic humans. Advancements in robotic engineering will allow many workers to avoid the dirty, repetitive, and dangerous tasks they currently encounter. Instead the workers will use collaborative robots as one of the new tools at their disposal.

The Australian Cobotics Centre has a research program specifically dedicated to understanding how this can be achieved. The Biomimic Cobots Program aims to address the fundamental challenges of enabling robots to work with humans in the conditions Australian manufacturing industry demands, and to build skills and capacity for the future workforce using and deploying these new technologies.

The Biomimic Cobots Program is led by engineers Associate Prof. Teresa Vidal-Calleja and Prof. XiaoQi Chen. Prof. Vidal-Calleja is a robotics expert focusing on enabling robots to be deployed in environments that are hazardous or difficult for people to access and Prof. Chen’s research interests cover robotics, smart manufacturing, advanced materials processing, additive manufacturing, and autonomous systems.

The program team also includes engineering researchers Prof. Jonathan Roberts, Dist. Prof. Peter Corke, Prof. Robert Fitch , Prof. Jochen Deuse , Dr Mats Isaksson, Dr Marc Carmichael and Fouad Sukkar. One of the program’s first project includes Engineers in QUT’s Research Engineering Facility and Industry Partner InfraBuild. The aim of the project is to research and develop a high-speed sensing and control system that is capable of identifying and moving steel rods and bars and have the ability to be able to work safely within relative proximity of their operators. This will result in better working conditions for employees who will operate the cobot, reducing manual handling tasks, which will result in higher quality products for their customers.

Learn more about World Engineering Day