An Australian-first facility to provide standardised testing of robotics is now open for business in Queensland. The purpose-built centre is part of a research and development partnership between defence solutions provider EPE and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, based at CSIRO’s site in Pullenvale, outside Brisbane.
The MILTECS (Military Test, Evaluation, Certification and Systems Assurance) facility was developed in response to industry calls for a proving ground for field robotics and will carry out standardised testing across industries including defence, law enforcement, agriculture, manufacturing and mining to help drive Australia’s sovereign industrial capability.
The project is funded by EPE and the Defence Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority (SICP) Program, with partnership support from CSIRO.
EPE Managing Director Warwick Penrose said the collaborative partnership will enable advanced R&D into human-robot teaming in dynamic unstructured environments and provide the essential validation to ensure the capabilities provided to Defence today also meet future threats.
“The facility is a genuine example of how a joint investment by Government and industry combined with collaborative partnership with the research sector delivers critical Defence capability outcomes,” Mr Penrose said.
The facility incorporates two proving grounds: a robotics terrain park outfitted with vehicles, stairs, pipes, inclines and unstructured terrains (grass, gravel, rocks, trees, etc) and a NIST (U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology) certified obstacle course; and Counter IED Detection and training lanes for mounted and dismounted search.
The MILTECS facility also extends over two other sites with a Threat Mitigation Proving Ground at Helidon in the Lockyer Valley and Test Labs at EPE’s Brisbane facility.
The entire facility includes:
- Proving Ground 1 Unmanned Systems (Terrain Park, NIST Test) at CSIRO Pullenvale
- Proving Ground 2 CIED Detection & Training Lanes (Mounted / Dismounted Search) at CSIRO Pullenvale
- Proving Ground 3 Threat Mitigation at Helidon
- Test Lab 1 Unmanned Systems and Sensor Integration Lab at EPE HQ Spring Hill
- Test Lab 2 CBRNe and CIED Sensors Assurance Lab at EPE HQ Spring Hill
- Test Lab 3 CBRNe and CIED Sensor Library Development Lab at EPE HQ Spring Hill
The collaboration between EPE and CSIRO will leverage knowledge and experience gained by EPE from international best practice through NIST test methods, and CSIRO’s world-leading robotics, navigation and surveying capabilities.
Group leader in CSIRO’s Data61, the agency’s data and digital arm, Dr Navinda Kottege welcomed the opening of the new facility.
“This new testing centre and partnership will help facilitate new capabilities and products that will advance local industry and strengthen Australia’s international standing in this domain,” Dr Kottege said.
CSIRO’s Pullenvale site is also home to the Robotics Innovation Centre (RIC) and CSIRO’s robotics and autonomous expertise at the Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies (QCAT).
The robotic technologies being developed onsite could assist CSIRO in designing and creating technologies for CSIRO’s Labs of the Future initiative to establish digitised laboratories, flexible workspaces, a smaller more sustainable footprint, cutting‑edge smart infrastructure shared with partners, and an efficient carbon footprint.