Robotics pioneer Hugh Durrant-Whyte elected to Royal Society

8 June 2010

Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte from the Faculty of Engineering and IT's Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

The world's oldest continuously running scientific academy, the British-based Royal Society annually elects fellows who have made a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science. Professor Durrant-Whyte was among 44 fellows elected to this year.

Professor Durrant-Whyte has achieved worldwide acclaim for his contribution to robotics. His research has seen robotic technology move away from traditional indoor applications, taking robots into unstructured 'field' environments in applications such as mining, underwater and farming.

His development of Simultaneous Location and Mapping (SLAM) method has been called by some the most important development in mobile robotics. SLAM draws on nonlinear filtering techniques for robot control allowing, for instance, a robot to be 'dropped' into unknown environments to incrementally map those environments in a process allowing it to navigate autonomously.

Professor Durrant-Whyte's pioneering of decentralised data fusion led to the world's first demonstration of a cooperative, multi-platform fleet of unmanned aircraft for search and surveillance.

He established the Australian Centre for Field Robotics in 1998 and his expertise and guidance has seen the centre - with more than 200 research staff and PhD students - become one of Australia's largest engineering research groups and a world leader in the robotics field.

Professor Durrant-Whyte said he was very honoured by his election, which reflects on the outcomes of the whole research team at the ACFR over many years.