Touch of genius

Thu, 16 Apr 2009 13:28:00 +1000

Professor Saeid Nahavandi, Director of the Centre for Intelligent Systems Research within ITRI, has won a major multi-million dollar grant to develop an intelligent robot that will give the operator an amazingly realistic sense of touch.

So much so that military personnel will be able to safely defuse a bomb up to 500 metres away as if they were using their bare hands.

The grant was announced by the Federal Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Honourable Warren Snowden MP, during the Avalon Airshow in March.

A host of Deakin’s research activities, including the full-scale version of the Model T2 were on display at the Airshow, sitting more than comfortably among all the other high-tech displays drawn from around the globe.

Mr Snowdon said the Deakin robot was among four projects, which the Government had identified as having their development ‘fast-tracked’ under the Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) Extension Program managed by the Defence Science & Technology Organisation (DSTO).

“As well as highlighting the world class robotics research and development that is taking place at Deakin, this grant also underlines the University’s commitment to developing a distinctive, broad-based portfolio of high quality discovery, applied and commercial research,” said Professor Lee Astheimer, Deakin University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

Professor Saeid Nahavandi said that the grant was the first time a university had been awarded extension funding and follows on from the robot’s successes in an earlier CTD trial.

“CISR developed a proof of concept Intelligent Robot prototype as part of the earlier research grant awarded to us in 2006,” he said.

“This new major funding will enable us to refine the robot’s design for harsh environments and improve the robot’s system fidelity.”

The Deakin researchers have used haptic (sense of touch) technology to allow the robot’s operator to ‘feel’ objects handled by the robot’s gripper.

As a result, the operator can get a sense of an object’s centre of mass, density and consistency, even though they may be up to 500 metres away.

Professor Nahavandi said this ability gives the robot great potential for use in harsh or dangerous environments without risk to the operator.

“Our intelligent robot allows the operator to ‘feel’ the physical environment it is working in. This ability can help the operator to defuse an explosive device without damage to people or property. Because the device is defused rather than blown up, information about the device and its makers can be collected.

“This technology is particularly relevant in areas where Australian forces are exposed to great risk handling improvised explosive devices,” he said.

For more information about the work of Professor Nahavandi and his team working within ITRI visit:

Professor Saeid Nahavandi
Professor Saeid Nahavandi

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20th August 2012