UniSA announce their first quadruped robot to help advance multiple areas

Dr James Walsh, an Enterprise Fellow at UniSA STEM

Weighing in at just 13 kilograms, with a price tag of $25,000, and equipped with 13 motors and multiple on-body cameras, Clive is the newest addition to the Australian Research Centre for Interactive and Virtual Environments (IVE), based at Mawson Lakes.

How best can Clive be utilized?

Dr James Walsh, an Enterprise Fellow at UniSA STEM, says the autonomous robot is the first university-owned quadruped in South Australia and will help advance research in multiple areas. “Quadrupeds like Clive are now commonly used for remote inspections by defence, space, mining and utility firms but we are interested in taking his capabilities much further.”

“He’s going to be invaluable in our augmented and virtual reality research at IVE, helping us to see how Clive perceives the world and how we can leverage that for everyday scenarios.”

“People have varied reactions to quadrupeds like Clive. Some find him confronting as they don’t know how he perceives them, given that he can act autonomously,” Dr Walsh says.

“We want to find a way for Clive to communicate with those around him, so he becomes less of a black box and more of a two-way communication between human and robot.”

Where can this technology be of great use?

Dr Walsh says it’s possible that quadrupeds could become commonplace at airports, where strict licensing and regulations restrict the use of aerial drones. “We can install the same cameras and sensing equipment in quadrupeds that we do in aerial drones. Clive could do inspections at Adelaide Airport without the risk of being sucked into a jet engine.”

The multiple cameras fixed around his body ensure that Clive has an almost 360-degree view of his environment, allowing him to recognise objects and people, and eventually understand human gestures. “Technology like this is the ultimate display of STEM in action,” Walsh says.

“It brings together electrical and mechanical engineering, maths and computer science and shows us what is possible when we merge all these different skills,” Dr Walsh concluded.