Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Robotics Research in South Africa

Keith Campbell writes in Engineering News about South African's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and its research in "niche areas" where robotics may be of help to South Africans.
South Africa cannot remotely match the scale of these investments – military or civil. Yet, the country cannot ignore field robotics either. It is becoming too important, too dynamic – a field relevant to many areas of human endeavour. Consequently, the CSIR is undertaking research into field robotics through the formation of the Mobile Intelligent Autonomous Systems (Mias) group. “This is an emerging research area for the CSIR, so it is different from a competence area,” explains Mias group leader Dr Simukai Utete. “Our group targets niche areas which address national needs – niche areas which are of relevance to [our] society. We are very concerned about capacity development in robotics.”
Why the area of "field robotics"?
They just do their tasks. Field robotics is relatively new. Field robots are in-between industrial robots and science-fiction. They operate in unstructured environments but in limited roles. They can act autonomously. Some can operate with people safely. Some have limited learning ability,” explains mining robotics project manager Liam Candy. The group has projects in the field of mining robotics, vehicle robotics, intelligent manipulation and active vision for autonomous systems.
 H/T: allAfrica

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