CIO

Australian robotics champion joins CSIRO’s Data61

Dr Sue Keay departs Australian Centre for Robotic Vision to lead Cyber Physical Systems program

CSIRO’s Data61 has appointed Dr Sue Keay to lead its Cyber Physical Systems program, which is focused on the “connection of digital devices to the physical environment”.

Keay departs the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision, where she has been chief operating officer for the last four and a half years.

During her time at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision, which is based at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Keay developed a $1.5-million research project on humanoid robotics supported by the Queensland Government to explore the vision capabilities of Softbank’s social robot, Pepper; and was named one of Queensland’s most influential people by the Courier Mail.

She was also responsible for the delivery of A Robotics Roadmap for Australia which outlines how Australian industry can gain from a $2.2 trillion dividend promised by automation and capture a global market for robotics and autonomous systems predicted to be worth $23 billion by 2025.

“Sue put her heart and soul into its development,” said Australian Centre for Robotic Vision director Peter Corke.

“Sue helped build our ARC Centre of Excellence from scratch, understanding that the breakthrough science and technologies needed to create a new generation of ‘truly useful’ robots – able to see and understand the environments they work in – could only be achieved through concerted, large-scale and collaborative effort,” Corke added.

The centre was established in 2014 with $25.6 million in ARC funding over seven years.

“We’re certainly going to miss Sue, but Australia will continue to benefit from her passion and tenacity as a positive disruptor,” Corke said.

Keay will join Data61 in January as research director for its Cyber Physical Systems program. The program covers a range of research areas including robotics and autonomous systems, distributed sensing networks, 3D mapping, AI-enabled computer vision and cybernetics.

Dr Mark Hedley has been acting in the research director role.

The program so far has developed biosensors to monitor oyster health; systems that collect and monitor real time agricultural data; driverless vehicles for hazardous situations and drones for environmental monitoring.

“I’m proud of my work at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision and indebted to lessons learned there, not least being that a leader is only as good as his or her team,” Keay said.

“I have been surrounded by the world’s best researchers. I look forward to watching them continue to achieve the vision of creating truly useful robots able to see and understand for the good of all people and our planet,” she added.

The position of chief operating officer at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision will be advertised in the New Year.