The robot will allow Australian Antarctic scientists and other Antarctic experts to venture where no one has gone before and make human understanding of Antarctica and Antarctic ecosystems more efficient, safe and cost-effective. It will help you move forward in an effective way.
This is the vision of QUT robotics expert Professor Peter Cork, who has been working with the Australian Antarctic Authority (AAD) for six months to identify opportunities for robotics in various parts of the Australian Antarctic Programme.
Professor Cork is an electrical engineer and co-director of the QUT Robotics Center, with a distinguished career in developing robotic applications for mining, agriculture, and environmental monitoring.
In 2021, he was involved in the development of a robotic prototype to help astronauts move cargo within the International Space Station and the Lunar Gateway to the Moon, as well as perform routine inspections and inventory checks.
“My space station project has interesting parallels with the Antarctic station,” Professor Cork said.
“Astronauts, like Antarctic expeditions, are expensive to care for and have limited time to complete important tasks. We can free up robots for higher jobs.”
There are many changes and challenges to Australia’s Antarctic programme, including Antarctic station upgrades, an ambitious new science program and the new research vessel RSV. you are his motherTo operate, Dr. Aleks Terauds, leader of the AAD’s data acquisition, analysis, and modeling program, said it’s time for a new way of thinking.
“We already use robotic technology in aspects of our work: drones, remotely controlled cameras and vehicles, artificial intelligence, but are we using it in the most productive and efficient way? Is there anything you don’t know about?” said Dr. Tellaws.
measure, move, collect
What kind of robot technology will we see?
“The Australian Antarctic Program needs robots that measure things, collect samples and move things from one place to another,” said Professor Coke.
“That means choosing the right machine to do the job, whether it’s an underwater glider, an autonomous ship, or an aerial drone.
Technologies and applications being considered include:
- Drones for whale tagging and tissue sampling.
- Autonomous ground vehicles for soil sampling, or transport and service to remote campsites.
- Autonomous aircraft for long-range geophysical surveys of ice sheets.
- Underwater vehicles for surveying beneath sea ice or for uploading data from subsea moorings for recharging or servicing.
- Automated image analysis of seabird nests and fish ear bones.
- Inspection and cleaning of infrastructure such as fuel and water tanks.
“Scientifically speaking, robots will primarily bring sensors to critical locations for understanding conditions in the Antarctic Ocean and Antarctica,” said Professor Cork.
“This could include places where it is dangerous or impossible for humans to bring them, such as under ice. It may also be a more cost-effective place to send.
“In other operational areas, robots can be used to move people and goods on ice, move equipment and goods in warehouses, and even help with kitchens and maintenance.”
Through discussions with AAD staff involved in all aspects of Antarctic science, operations and infrastructure, Professor Cork identifies specific needs and connects individuals with the Australian University sector and abroad.
“The AAD has an amazing ability to create or modify equipment for Antarctic conditions, but we are leveraging this with our students spread across the country and our connections with the broader Australian and international robotics and AI communities. If we can strengthen it, the department can get a lot more out of it. Done,” Professor Koch said.
Lloyd Symons, technology manager at Polar, says connecting with the broader robotics community can help solve one of the key challenges facing Antarctica.
“Every time I talk to people about my latest ‘toy,’ I ask, ‘What happens in ice? Conversation stops. They don’t,” Simmons said.
“So we have to find a way to use this clever technology to work for us.”