Embracing autonomous robotics the way of the future for companies

| December 20, 2021

Australian business must embrace automation if they’re going to grow and remain competitive into the future.

CEO of robotics programming company Chironix, Daniel Milford says few leaders have a mature understanding of how to leverage technology in managing their business and leading their customers and employees into the future.

He says companies that talk about rather than act upon transforming their business models and work culture to include autonomous robotics, jeopardise the life expectancy of their business.

“Unless companies embrace robotics, they will cease to exist,” he says.

“You need an automation program if you are going to attract the best talent and boost your competitive performance and your artificial intelligence edge in the market.”

“Smart technologies are going to get smarter, so Australian companies need to stop being ‘boardroom Power Point warriors’ and start genuinely interacting with the technology.’

“Technological development and innovation doesn’t stop – it just keeps evolving. If companies don’t start investing now, they’ll be left behind.”

Chironix is working with defence manufacturer, BAE Systems Australiato find the best robotic solution to a wide-variety of behaviours in its workplace. Already BAE Systems is “light years ahead of many companies” and “delivering in ways that have never been done before” because of its robotic automation, said Mr Milford.

“We are working with BAE Systems to develop first of its kind robotic capabilities to build world leading and the safest defence equipment.”

In May this year, robot, ‘Spot the Dog’ joined the BAE Systems Australia team designing and building nine submarine-hunting warships for the Royal Australian Navy.

Ms Sharon Wilson, BAE Systems Australia Continuous Naval Shipbuilding Strategy Director believes robots could provide the defence manufacturer with safer ways to undertake work, especially in confined spaces.

“Spot’s mission is to ‘sniff’ out safer and more efficient solutions for the naval shipyard environment,” she said.

“In particular, we are looking at the use of robots to deliver improved safety and efficiency benefits to the Hunter Class Frigate Program.”

Future uses for Spot could include undertaking pre-recorded ‘walking routes’ through the shipyard being programmed to monitor for gas leaks or check for wiring, pipework and corrosion, particularly in very small, cramped spaces.

She said the robot could also be fitted with a laser scanner to check ship compartments as they are being built, to compare them with the digital design.

Mr Milford said the benefits of autonomous robotic programming goes well beyond shipbuilding.

The Chironix team of software engineers has enabled scores of robots to be deployed across a range of sectors and not just in defence. Mining, construction and oil and gas industries have also employed the software Chironix builds, to enable robotics to perform many menial, time-consuming roles, freeing up human employees to fulfil their full potential.

Milford said Australia has an enormous number of innovation hubs and enterprise programs fostering innovation but warned these talk fests were no substitute for investing in robotic technology.

“The robot is like a smartphone – it’s almost useless without the apps. If you don’t have an up-to-date phone you can be left behind – and it’s the same with robots, all business will need a robot to improve their efficiencies.”

“Automation specialists can design a robot for just about any particular need but it’s software that makes the robot task driven and relevant.”

Chironix is currently working on applications where robots will be deployed to audit road tunnel safety and identify structural defects, cracks and leaks, something the human eye may miss.

Recently, the US Navy contracted Chironix to provide robots as autonomous battlefield ambulances.

“The technology is here, it’s not science fiction. The robots are performing functions that have typically been the domain of humans but they do it smarter and more safely.’

Some of the ways robotics can future proof your business include:

  • Improving efficiencies:Once there is a robot in the field, and people can see how the automation is applied, they can devote more time to other areas of the business. Battlefield evacuations and risk assessment in mines for example are unpredictable and robots can take on these high risk scenarios and provide stability and predictability.
  • Assisting with compliance and safety: Robots can be deployed into dangerous scenarios and do the work deemed too hazardous for humans. Leaks, faulty pipes, structural defects, equipment inspection or simply dusty, hot and hazardous environments are now the domain of robots.
  • Costs:Automation is a way to keep labour costs down, with the benefit of freeing up employee skill to perform more efficient and productive tasks. Robots increase efficiency and will out-perform humans at precision and repetitive tasks. Programming a robot to perform high risk tasks will also reduce the risk to human life.
  • Improve accuracy and results: Robots can perform more precise applications, movements and behaviours. With the right software application, robots can be deployed to perform a range of behaviours. Robots can produce incredibly accurate, consistent, and high quality work without needing breaks, sick leave, time off and can be left alone unsupervised to perform scheduled tasks.
  • Improve efficiencies and cost: Robots free up field workers in the mines from day-to-day jobs like gauge reading, leak detection, noise anomaly detection, thermal inspection and gas detection. Robots can bedeployed to record and report all of this data using its cameras and microphones.
  • Boost competitive advantage: It’s in a company’s bestinterest to begin automating their processes, and it will give them an edge over their competitors. Without robotics, companies won’t be able to compete. Robotics already underpins employment, efficiencies and profits.
  • Future proof business: Robotsimprove safety, reliability and efficiency of most company’s operations.They represents an unparalleled opportunity for companies to position themselves at leaders in their field

Mr Milford believes business leaders must understand that robotic implementation can help put their business ahead of their competition and boost their bottom line.

“Our experience has been that autonomous robotics doesn’t replace humans, it empowers them to perform tasks more suited to their potential, unlocking creativity and lateral thinking,’ said Mr Milford.

‘Companies that are embracing this technology are leaps and bounds ahead of their competition.’