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Eureka Prize for University of Sydney robotics expert

31 August 2017
Professor recognised for leadership in innovation and science

University of Sydney engineer Professor Salah Sukkarieh has won the 2017 CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science, presented at a gala dinner on 30 August in the Sydney Town Hall...

Professor Salah Sukkarieh.

Professor Salah Sukkarieh.

Presented annually by the Australian Museum, the prestigious Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of scientific research and innovation, science leadership, school science and science journalism and communication.

The University of Sydney had four finalists from Science and Engineering and one science communicator at the Eureka Prizes, known as the Oscars of Australian Science.

Professor Sukkarieh received his Eureka Prize trophy at the Sydney Town Hall in front of an audience of distinguished scientists, industry leaders, journalists, policy makers, philanthropists, school students and science enthusiasts.

Professor Sukkarieh is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) at the University of Sydney. He is also the Director for the Rio Tinto Centre for Mine Automation and the Horticulture Innovation Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems, leads a project on smart farming systems for nutrition at the Charles Perkins Centre and leads a project on nanorobotics at the Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (AINST).

Professor Sukkarieh with his Eureka Award.

Professor Sukkarieh with his Eureka Award. Image courtesy: Australian Museum.  

Professor Sukkarieh has significantly advanced the fundamentals of autonomous systems science and his research has provided impactful solutions to barriers in important large-scale engineering operations across various industries. His key technological breakthroughs have included developing better navigation systems for aerial and ground robotics, better prediction of fuel consumption for flight systems, developing better environmental management tools and more.

Professor Sukkarieh and his team at the ACFR are currently working with Australian farmers to help grow their crops in smarter and more efficient ways. By using robotic devices to assess, maintain and ultimately harvest crops, they are improving food sustainability while battling the effects of climate change.

“I am honoured, humbled and very pleased to have won the award. This award is as much a reflection of the dedication and support of the people around me – from my team, through to the Faculty of Engineering and Information and Technologies and the University of Sydney, and to my family,” he said.

Watch Professor Sukkarieh talk about his research.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence said these awards reveal the creative side of fundamental and applied research.

“In order to break new ground, we need to unlearn what we think we know and embrace what is new – that is what the Eureka prizes are all about. I am very proud of Professor Sukkarieh, who has gained due recognition for his outstanding research.”

This year, four outstanding University of Sydney were researchers were named as finalists for the Eureka Prizes. Professor Dacheng Tao from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies and Dr Elizabeth New and Dr Pengyi Yang, both from the Faculty of Science, were also finalists. Read more about their nominations here.

Science communicator Marcus Strom, who has recently taken a position at the University of Sydney as a media adviser in nanoscience and quantum technologies, was also a finalist for the Eureka Prize for Science Journalism.

The University of Sydney also sponsors the Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prizes category for primary and high school students.

This year, Amelia Lai and Caitlyn Walker from Presbyterian Ladies’ College in Sydney won the primary school prize for their documentary ‘Icy Cold But Toasty Warm’, an entertaining investigation into the behavioural and physical adaptations of the Antarctic region's Emperor Penguins.

The secondary school prize was won by Eliza Dalziel, Claire Galvin, Georgia Hannah and Anna Hardy from St Monica's College in Queensland for their documentary ‘Manure You Know’ , which explains the importance of dung beetles in our ecosystem.