Rather listen to Experienced Robotics Expert than President Obama, for example...

President Obama made the news with his media event at CMU announcing manufacturing’s comeback and role robotics can play, but I didn’t really learn much.  Did you?

Obama forecasts manufacturing comeback

June 24, 2011|By Alex Mooney, CNN White House Producer

President Barack Obama — whose poll numbers have dipped in recent weeks amid a stubbornly sluggish economic recovery — touted the hard-hit manufacturing sector Friday, saying the country’s best production days may well lie ahead.

“We are inventors, we are makers, and we are doers. If we want a robust growing economy, we need a robust manufacturing sector,” Obama told a crowd at Carnegie Mellon University, the school founded by steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie nearly 100 years ago.

The president’s speech followed a tour through the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon, which the White House describes as a national effort to encourage investment from industry, universities, and the federal government in emerging manufacturing technologies.

President Obama’s media event was fluffy with little technical content.  Especially compared to the hour I spent on the same day listening to Hugh Durrant-Whyte, CEO of NICTA, ex research director at Australia’s robotics efforts.

Hugh Durrant-Whyte

Research Director
Professor of Mechatronic Engineering, Appointed 1995

At the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, USYD

My research focuses on two main areas; navigation of autonomous vehicles and senor data fusion.
In navigation I pioneered the application of Kalman filter and target-tracking methods to the problem of robot localisation. This has had substantial impact in robotics; Many operational mobile robots now use these methods for localisation. I also introduced the revolutionary Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) method. Interest in SLAM is now exploding. My research work is now focused on general probabilistic SLAM problems appropriate to very unstructured, outdoor and underwater, environments.
In data fusion I introduced and pioneered decentralised data fusion algorithms based on the information filter. While I initially undertook this work in the early 1990s, these algorithms are now being used as the theoretical underpinning for many new concepts in network-centric warfare systems. The ACFR now receives considerable funding from overseas defence companies in the UK and US for the development and implementation of this theory. New research work is broadening the scope of these methods to general information fusion problems.


Hugh had some great demonstrations of robotics in Australia.



The Future of Mining has Hugh’s work as well.

Local mines ponder ‘sci-fi’ future

  • From:AAP
  • June 13, 2011 1:25AM


Taking control: A line of Komatsu 930E driverless trucks parked up at a Rio Tinto mine in Western Australia. The company is pushing towards what’s always been science fiction fantasy.

THE film ‘Moon’ portrayed a future where the lunar surface had become a mine dominated by driverless machines.

It’s an eerie concept - mines operating without humans - but moves by Rio Tinto Ltd show the Hollywood  scenario may not be just science fiction dreaming.

The mining giant has announced the roll-out  of driverless haul trucks at Western Australia’s Yandicooginain site.

It’s the largest technological move of this type in the world so far, part of Rio’s “Mine of the Future” program, launched in 2008.

Watch what happens when a Komatsu truck runs over a 4x4.

And, here is another project Hugh worked on.

I was lucky to meet Hugh in person and see his talk on Friday which is one of the best presentations I have seen on using robotics.  Here is one of his speeches from 2010.  Click on the link to see a video of his talk.

The robotics revolution. Hugh Durrant-Whyte

Part 1 | Part 2
In this Warren Centre Innovation Lecture 2010, Hugh Durrant-Whyte describes some of the great leaps forward that have occurred in the field of robotics in Australia over the past decade. Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte is recognised internationally as one of the most innovative researchers in robotics and is creating an Australian robotics industry. He has played a critical role in raising the visibility of Australian robotics in government, industry, academia and the community, and his work has been applied in mining, defence, agriculture, logistics and remote sensing. Presented by The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering (University of Sydney) at the RACV Club, Melbourne. June 2010