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5 things we learnt at Research Conversazione

20 October 2017
Showcasing our latest student research in engineering and IT

Unmanned aerial vehicles, virtual reality and robots may seem like unrelated topics, but they all came together under one roof at the Faculty of Engineering and IT's premier annual research event, Research Conversazione.

Student demonstrating drone to industry representatives

1. Expiration dates may soon be past their shelf life

Expiration dates serve as a quick method for determining whether food is safe to be consumed. While convenient, these labels are not accurate and rely on theoretical assumptions. Research engineer Long Nguyen, from the ARC Training Centre for the Australian Food Processing Industry, has developed a simple, inexpensive sensor in sticker form which changes colour in the presence of the ammonia released from spoiled foods such as red meat.

2. Drones are a farmer's best friend

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) may just be the answer to the ongoing bird problem plaguing the agriculture industry. PhD candidate Zihao Wang has proposed programing UAVs to chase the pests away on sight. His research suggests equipping each UAV with three crucial components: sensors to actively search for birds on the farm; a ground station translating sensor data into missions for the drones; and the drones themselves. This method intends to reduce the current annual loss of commercial crops suffered by farmers.

3. Health benefits of virtual reality

Immersive virtual reality and exergaming (games that support physical activity) technology is the perfect recipe to engage and motivate players in physical and cognitive activity. PhD candidate Kiran Ijaz's 'VR Rides' is one such example, comprising of a recumbent tricycle, real-world panoramic images and a virtual reality headset that allows the user to peddle their way around real locations in a safe, virtual environment.

4. No more traffic jams

Real-time traffic monitoring and remote car parking inspections are closer to being a reality courtesy of ongoing research by PhD candidate Zhe Yu. The telecommunications engineer is designing a reconfigurable Internet of Things communications platform for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to support Smart Campus applications and meet energy efficiency, data-rate and transmission range requirements. Real-time image processing algorithms will be developed for the UAV to perform detailed functions such as reading number plates, parking permits and assessing parking occupancy.

5. Robots lend more than just a helping hand

Developing a mobile robotics research platform with a controllable arm for safe user interaction is being explored by PhD student Anthony Tompkins. Due to the general nature of the problem of an autonomous robot interacting with its environment, this research forms a fundamental stepping stone for more advanced automation. Such research is applicable to various sectors such as healthcare, warehousing, logistics, and manufacturing.

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