“Intelligent” Robots Cleaning Around Sydney (Video)

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By Athena Yenko | July 18, 2013 12:28 PM EST

The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), one of the country's premier technology universities, had entered a deal with UniQuest to have its intelligent robots commercialised to clean around major steel structures around Sydney and eventually may also paved the way for the intelligent robots to enter the international market.

 These commercialised robots were to be the world's first autonomous gritblasting robot.

 According to an article from UTS written for Brink and published monthly for The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian company Burwell Technologies had put major investments for the Sydney robotics start-up Sabre Autonomous Solutions.

 Sabre is a new Australian robotics company established by UTS, and Burwell was convinced to fund the start-up for the robots to have its regular maintenance.

 According to UniQuest CEO Dean Moss, "That maintenance involves heavy duty grit-blasting, which is a fatiguing and potentially hazardous task for the blasters, and costly. Australia spends over $200 million each year on bridge maintenance alone."

 Burwell's investment will support Sabre to maintain the robots' "unique capabilities to autonomously sense and map a steel structure, and then plan a suitable collision-free grit-blasting pathway," according to the article.

 In an interview with AAP, UTS Innovation and Commercial Development Manager Martin Lloyd said that the robots will save humans from dangerous task involving cleaning steel structures.

 Mr Lloyd said, "The abrasive material (from the cleaners) is capable of blasting away rust and paint, taking it back to bare metal. If you got on its way, it would not take very long for it to get through your clothes and skin. The blast operator is there just to press the go button, and they're also there if anything goes wrong. They are very much a tool, albeit a very intelligent tool."

 The intelligent robots weigh 25kg and have sensors and cameras to navigate unfamiliar terrain. However, they still need humans to control them.

 On Tuesday, July 16, two intelligent robots had started cleaning over Sydney Harbour Bridge using pressurised cleaners to wipe layers of ancient paint off the bridge. In this way, the bridge's southern spans can be repainted.

 The site of robots over the bridge may sound like a scene from Transformer movies but it looked simpler than that.

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