Bil­lion-dol­lar bot booster

Smarter state urged to em­brace AI in cash grab

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - JILL POULSEN

HEALTH AF­FAIRS GOV­ERN­MENTS, uni­ver­si­ties and in­dus­try need to work to­gether to take ad­van­tage of the rise of ro­bot­ics, in or­der to see Queens­land’s econ­omy boosted by up to $117.5 bil­lion, a new re­port shows.

The Ro­bot­ics and Au­to­ma­tion Ad­van­tage for Queens­land re­port, re­leased last week, iden­ti­fied that em­brac­ing au­to­ma­tion could pro­vide any­where be­tween 492,950 and 1.1 mil­lion jobs by 2028 and add be­tween $37.4 bil­lion and $117.5 bil­lion to Gross State Prod­uct.

The re­port, de­vel­oped by Syn­er­gies Eco­nomic Con­sult­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with QUT and the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment, said po­ten­tial ben­e­fits from ro­bot­ics and au­to­ma­tion in­cluded new jobs, and en­abling for­mer Queens­land­based com­pa­nies to move back here.

It con­cluded that the faster the up­take across the state’s in­dus­tries, the greater the ben- efits and the lesser the im­pacts on job dis­lo­ca­tion.

QUT vice-chan­cel­lor Mar­garet Sheil said the re­port sent a strong mes­sage on the im­por­tance of train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion in the STEM ar­eas of science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and maths be­cause tech­nol­ogy, ro­bots and au­to­ma­tion would have “wide­spread im­pact on hu­man life”.

Ro­bot­ics de­vel­op­ment has been un­der way in Bris­bane for more than two decades – with Aus­tralia’s first au­tonomous port.

Bris­bane also saw the launch of the world’s first pizza de­liv­ery ro­bot, and QUT’s Crown-of-Thorns Starfish ro­bot was first tested in More­ton Bay be­fore be­ing tri­alled on the Great Bar­rier Reef to con­trol the spread of the reef-eat­ing starfish.

QUT is cur­rently de­vel­op­ing a ro­bot­ics re­search project to cre­ate vi­sion-en­abled, ag­ile and adapt­able ro­bots which small and medium-sized en­ter­prises could use to make high-value prod­ucts that open ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties and cre­ate more jobs.

Aus­tralian Cen­tre for Robotic Vi­sion CEO Dr Sue Keay said the re­port re­in­forced ear­lier re­search that showed ro­bot­ics was key to Aus­tralia at­tain­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity growth and main­tain­ing its stan­dard of liv­ing.

Dr Keay said Queens­land was per­fectly po­si­tioned to host a world-lead­ing “tech­nol­ogy clus­ter” to fur­ther ad­vance de­vel­op­ment of a ro­bot econ­omy with na­tional and global im­pact.

She gave the ex­am­ple of Pitts­burgh in the US, where a clus­ter of small-to-medium sized en­ter­prises se­cured $499 mil­lion ven­ture cap­i­tal in 2014-15.

“Sim­i­lar to Queens­land, Pitts­burgh’s key to suc­cess was the ex­is­tence of a well-es­tab­lished ro­bot­ics-fo­cused univer­sity, open­ing the door to cut­ting-edge in­no­va­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion,” she said.

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