Autonomous systems and robotics

IISRI is very active in the design and development of robotic and autonomous systems for application in defence and security environments.

Research projects

Robotic surgical system advances medical capabilities

HeroSurg is a robotic innovation by IISRI that provides surgeons with the sense of touch while using a robot to conduct keyhole surgery via a computer. The robot is a major breakthrough to current technology, which now limits robotic surgery to the sense of sight, meaning laparoscopic or micro surgery will be safer and more accurate than ever.

Haptically-enabled grasping surgery instrument

IISRI researchers have developed a force feedback-enabled, minimally invasive surgery instrument that is able to measure tip/tissue lateral interaction forces, as well as normal grasping forces. This supports a sense of touch in robotically-assisted, minimally invasive surgery operations, enabling the characterisation of soft tissue of varying strength. The instrument can also adjust grasping direction and change tip types (e.g. cutter, grasper, and dissector) as needed. Unlike existing tele-surgery systems that can only provide the surgeon with basic visual feedback, robots can outperform humans as they have much greater movement, accuracy and precision.

Ultrasound robots

IISRI and Telstra have developed a haptically-enabled ultrasound technology for use in locations with limited medical resources. The technology means patients are no longer required to be in the same room as the sonographer conducting the ultrasound. Such advances enable increased accessibility to diagnostics tools for Australians living in regional and remote areas.

Ozbots – defence systems in action

Victorian and Queensland police units are using OzBots in a first-responder capacity. The OzBots provide operators with live video, visible and IR illumination and bi-directional audio. OzBots are also being used to apply pattern recognition with artificial neural networks within gas detection. Further use in other areas, such as domestic law enforcement, aeronautics and environmental management are also being investigated.

Ozbot raider to improve defence training

The OzBot raider is a mobile target system set to achieve improved accuracy in armed forced training. The technology enables armed forces to undertake validation and compliance testing of weapon systems without risk to personnel or any compromise in scenario realism.

Haptically enabled tele-operative systems

In partnership with the Australian Defence Force, this research investigates the use of cutting-edge technologies for remote render-safe of improvised explosive devices (IED). Using haptics (force feedback technology), stereovision (binocular video stream for depth perception) and natural user interface, the robots have been engineered to deliver maximum effectiveness while maintaining a minimal training liability. The research focuses on how to reduce operator fatigue and minimise training liability by creating a transparent operator presence.

Autonomous data fusion for enhanced situational awareness

Data fusion algorithms are becoming vital tools for situational awareness in domains where decision-making is dependent on combined information from multiple sources or sensors. Due to the technological limitations, fusing all features from all source signals into a singular isn’t possible. Our research looks at how signal fusion can be redefined into transferring important features from source signals, ignoring the non-important features and minimising their effect on the fused signal.

Augmented collision detection using stereo imagery

Stereoscopic tele-operation of remotely manipulated robots is a well-defined and researched field. The stereo cameras can be used for a SLAM (Simultaneous localization and mapping) system to enable robot localisation and navigation, full 3D mapping and surface reconstruction of the environment. In this way, a virtual model of the robot's environment can be created and used for simulation and task planning.

Competitive bidding strategies for controlling autonomous mobile elements

Controlling autonomous mobile elements is a key question for many application domains. The main objective is providing effective coordination between team members in order to fulfil the mission objectives. Traditional mechanisms are based on either a spatial or temporal distribution, which lack the utilisation of the best team member to carry out the current task. Our research employs a competitive scheme that incorporates a bidding strategy based on a single-item, lowest price, sealed-bid auction. The results clearly demonstrate the proposed control scheme outperforms traditional schemes in minimising data collection time as well as the distance travelled by each mobile element.

Force field analysis

Force fields analysis has been identified as an efficient way to model and simulate dynamic and spatial systems. IISRI is researching the use of force field analysis for applications such as path planning in dynamic environments for mobile robots or unmanned vehicles.

Fault-tolerant force in human and robot cooperation

This research focusses on work investigating different strategies for the application of optimal fault-tolerant force within human-robot cooperation for the slow pushing or lifting of an object. Six different strategies were presented to optimally maintain a cooperative force, despite manipulator failure through a locked joint event. These strategies determined the post- failure cooperation of the faulty manipulator and the human.

Pipe and well inspection systems and cable reels

The pipe inspection system is an efficient camera tractor for the inspection of pipes 200mm in diameter or larger. Its powerful drive enables proficient pipeline inspection over long distances, while the adjustable lift device allows for optimal positioning of the camera in the pipe. The traction regulating device coordinates the camera tractor and the cable winch and is developed for optimal operating conditions during sewer inspections.

Super-resolution of a 3D scene

Multi-frame super-resolution fuses information from a series of low-resolution images to create images with a higher spatial resolution and therefore, super-resolution may be used to create a high-resolution view of a 3D scene. Super-resolution allows the enhancement of images to extract features of interest in fine detail while using low-resolution imaging hardware. In many imaging applications, such as medical imaging it is beneficial to extract key details from captured images. However, these images are often of low quality and make it impossible to obtain any meaningful information.