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Our first year: Shorts Project

POSTED: 07 Sep, 2022

Continuing our celebration of 1 year in operation, today we are looking at one of the first projects of the Centre – the Shorts project with InfraBuild. The project is just about to complete its first phase in which a proof of concept has been completed.

The “Shorts” project with Infrabuild aims to improve the health and safety of steel factory workers by utilising a Cobot (collaborative robot) to remove off-spec steel bars from the production line. Currently, a worker performs this job which requires repetitively monitoring and throwing fast moving, heavy, hot steel bars off of a conveyor which poses an inherent risk of injury.

Infrabuild’s production line is unique, in that they produce a wide range of steel bars with different shapes and sizes. While this makes them unique capability-wise globally, current off-the-shelf solutions for automating this detection and removal process cannot deal with the variety of bars. Hence, our researchers and engineers are aiming to develop a flexible system using a Cobot with inbuilt and external sensors that shifts away from traditional automation approaches and can adapt to the different steel bars that they manufacture – even new ones in the future – while working safely around workers.

The project had two distinct phases of initial work to prove that a cobot could complete the task:

  1. The identification of the shortest bar in the group via an automated system
  2. The use of a cobot to remove the bar from a moving conveyor belt


  • providing safer working environment for their staff by removing humans from the dangerous part of the process
  • potential for higher production efficiency as the system can run at all hours

Project Team

  • Andrew Thomas, InfraBuild
  • Mark Christianson, InfraBuild
  • Fred Sukkar, Australian Cobotics Centre Postdoctoral Research Fellow (UTS)
  • Dasun Gunasinghe, Australian Cobotics Centre Lead Engineer (QUT)
  • Gavin Suddrey, Australian Cobotics Centre Engineer (QUT)
  • Teresa Vidal-Calleja, Australian Cobotics Centre Research Program Lead (UTS)
  • Jonathan Roberts, Australian Cobotics Centre Director