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Robotics: The future is already here

At the recent Zenith Awards held in Sydney in August, keynote speaker Professor Salah Sukkarieh wowed the audience with descriptions of some of the automation technologies that are not only being developed but are already being put to work.

Sukkarieh, who is the director of research and innovation, Australian centre for field robotics at The University of Sydney, has led a number of robotics and intelligent systems research and development projects. These have focussed on areas such as logistics, commercial aviation, aerospace, education, environment monitoring, agriculture and mining.

During his presentation, Sukkarieh’s slide show illustrated just how far some industries have come, especially in materials handling and agriculture.

A few years ago the Port of Brisbane started using Autostrads, which move containers around the port. Some ports were not sold on the technology, but two years ago, 50 Autostrads were brought into Sydney’s Port Botany. Besides providing an automated container system, the Autostrads only require one person to be in control of the container yard.

Weighing in at 65 tonnes, an Autostrad is capable of carrying 50-tonne loads. It comes with an in-built navigation system and pilot controller. It travels around the yard in sequences that, in some cases, are accurate to within millimetres.

A key to the navigation system is that it is made up of two independent parts that self-correct each other if one makes a mistake. One uses a millimetre wave radar sensor while the other utilises a real-time-kinematic global positioning sensor.

Safety is also a key consideration, and there are several pieces of technology onboard that make sure the yard is as safe as possible. As well as anti-collision technology, the unit will not operate unless it receives a “heartbeat” radio signal, which will shut off if anybody enters the enclosed yard where the Autostrads operate.

In the agriculture sector, Sukkarieh’s team is working on automated units that weed and water vegetables. These kinds of devices are designed to look after the health of plants, and also increase possible yields.

These types of innovations and technologies are similar to what visitors will see at MEGATRANS2018.

MEGATRANS2018 – an exciting new international trade event – will bridge the gaps between these industry segments that have previously been operating in isolation.
The show makes its debut 10 to 12 May, 2018 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, based in the heart of the one of Australia’s major logistics hubs and one of the world’s most liveable cities – Melbourne.

Connecting the Australian and international supply chain, the three-day expo, delivered in partnership with the Victorian Government, will bring together those who plan, implement and control the efficient and effective forward flow and storage of goods, services and related information between the point of origin and point of consumption.

A number of sections comprise the show’s 30,000 square metres of space – logistics and materials handling/warehousing and storage; road transport, air, sea and rail; and infrastructure; with a strong emphasis on technology right throughout.

Other features of MEGATRANS2018 include the Global Shippers Forum, the Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA) Global Leaders’ Summit, the Logistics & Materials Handling Mercury Awards, a Ministerial Breakfast delivered in partnership with the Victorian Government and Transport Certification Australia’s (TCA) Technology Hub.
The Port of Melbourne is a supporting sponsor of the show, with Enirgi Group backing the event as sponsor and DB Schenker as the logistics partner.

MEGATRANS2018 is also supported by a range of association partners, including the Australian Logistics Council (ALC); Victorian Transport Association (VTA); the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) and the Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA); ARTSA; the National Transport Commission (NTC); and TCA

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