It is noted worldwide that robotics can play a role across all industry sectors and that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an even larger ‘appetite’ for automation/ semi-automation due to physical distancing constraints, and restrictions of access to site and travel.
The Robotics industry in Australia is in a growth phase and key industries projected to undergo transformation in Australia include education, resources, agriculture, transport, aerospace, healthcare. To help provide a framework for Australia to establish a self-sustaining local robotics and related technology industry, a 2nd iteration of a National Robotics roadmap was released in January 2022 by the Robotics Australia Group (RAG).
As an indicator of growth and interest in the sector, RAG, through the Robotics Australia Network now brings together a community of more than 800 people from industry, government and research institutions. Interest in the emerging area of robotics has grown since 2018, shown by the increase from 92 participants in roadmap consultation sessions in 2017 to 1,058 participants in 2020.
The 2018 roadmap was also a key driver for the establishment of both the Queensland Robotics Cluster and RoboWest (Western Australia). Robotic (and drone) testing grounds are being developed at Neerabup in Western Australia (WA), and Cloncurry in Queensland (QLD), smart mobility precincts are being established in Joondalup (WA) and Redland (QLD), while Australia’s expertise in remote operations and robotics is recognised by two WA-led initiatives: AROSE (Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth).
RAG is now also collaborating with government, industry, robotics companies, the research sector, investment and education sectors to build a robust and world-class robotics manufacturing ecosystem through the Australian Robotics Ventures Factory (RoboFactory); that will serve as a nationally connected marketplace for robotics manufacturers and commercial aggregators. The project also includes a new Robotics Tech Park in Emerald, Queensland comprising a field testing and demonstration area and an innovation precinct.
Encouragingly for exporters, it is recognised that in general Australia does not manufacture its own industrial robots, defined by ISO 8373:2012 as “an automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more axes, which can be either fixed in place or mobile for use in industrial automation applications.” Similarly, our manufacturing sector is heavily reliant on importing technologies for Industry 4.0.
Australia does however have strength in field and service robotics and significant gains have been made in mining automation and AgTech to the benefit of the Australian economy by utilising locally made and imported designs and systems. Incentives are now in place for companies to develop and adopt robotic technology in the Construction, Defence, Resources, Agriculture, Environment, Space and Services sectors.
Exporters offering industrial robots, robotic building blocks in the form of hardware and software, cobots and complete robotic systems for specific industry applications could all find opportunity in Australia. There is also an immediate focus on educating general workforce on topics of automation and tech literacy so education and training platforms may also find opportunity.
Exporters interested in pursuing opportunities are encouraged to visit https://roboausnet.com.au, www.insiderobotics.com.au and reach out to WEDC for an initial discussion on how their team can assist.