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Jonathan Roberts

Jon Roberts is the Director of the Australian Cobotics Centre as well as a Professor in Robotics at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the Technical Director at ARM Hub. His main research interests are in the areas of Field Robotics, Medical Robotics, Performance Robotics and Design Robotics and he is linked to the Biomimic Cobots program within the Centre.

Jonathan graduated from the University of Southampton, UK, in 1991 with an Honours degree in Aerospace Systems Engineering. Jonathan furthered his interest in computer vision while completing a PhD (1991-1994) at the University of Southampton where he also developed skills in parallel computing.

In 1995 Jonathan joined CSIRO (Australia’s largest government research agency) to work in the area of mining robotics where he worked on numerous large robot machines including 3,500 tonne draglines, 30 tonne underground haul trucks and autonomous underground explosive loading vehicles. His work with his colleagues on the navigation system of semi-autonomous Load-Haul-Dump (LHD) vehicles was commercialised by Caterpillar. He was appointed a Science Leader at CSIRO in the area of Robotics and then went on to lead the Autonomous Systems Laboratory also at CSIRO where he was Research Director.

Jonathan was a co-inventor of the UAV Challenge Outback Rescue, an international flying robot competition in which teams search for a lost bushwalker using autonomous robotic aircraft, and he is still an active leader of the challenge today and has featured on BBC International News in 2014 and 2016 talking about the event. In 2013 he and his research team won the Australia and New Zealand Internet Award for Innovation for their Museum Robot project. This project deployed two mobile robots in the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and continues to be used by remote school students to visit the museum with an educator guide, on a weekly basis. In 2013 Jonathan made international news by being the first person to 3D map the interior of the Leaning Tower of Pisa using his team’s Zebedee mobile mapping system. He continues to have an interest in the use of robotics technology for the use in documenting and protecting important cultural heritage sites. His team’s mapping of Fort Lytton in Brisbane in conjunction with Queensland Parks and The University of Queensland was the first Australian heritage site to be archived on CyArk, the international digital cultural heritage database.

In 2017, Jonathan became a Chief Investigator at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision. He and his team were also awarded an Australia-India Strategic Research Fund project in 2017 to develop new vision technologies for minimally invasive knee surgery. Jonathan was President of the Australian Robotics & Automation Association Inc. from 2007-2008, and between 2008 and 2013 was Deputy Research Director of the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA), a joint venture between CSIRO and Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

Jonathan is a frequent contributor to The Conversation where he writes on many topics related to robotics and the use of technology in society.

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