Breakthrough technology that's given autonomous robots the tough job of helping strip lead-based paint from the Sydney Harbour Bridge features in a new exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum.
The result of more than six years' work by UTS researchers and the NSW Roads and Maritime Services, the grit blasting robots join other innovative Australian engineering projects in the annual Engineering Excellence exhibition at the Powerhouse.
The exhibition, running until January next year, showcases winning entries from the 2013 Sydney Engineering Excellence Awards. The grit-blasting robot work was recognised with awards in the Control Systems and Communications and Research and Development industry categories.
The two machines at work on the bridge, nicknamed Sandy and Rosie, are able to work unaided in unfamiliar and dangerous environments. They can safely explore an unknown environment, scan and create a 3D map of the space, avoid obstacles and grit-blast surfaces to a high standard.
The robots are a better solution for the hazardous side of bridge maintenance work, allowing workers to be well clear when old paint is being blasted off the bridge's steelwork.
The technology has now been commercialised with the formation of a spin-off company Sabre Autonomous Solutions.
The annual Engineering Excellence Awards exhibition is a collaboration between the Powerhouse Museum and the Sydney Division of Engineers Australia.
Other projects on display include the Bradfield Award recipient, State Water Corporation for their Computer Aided River Management Project, improving river efficiencies; the President's Award recipient, CSIRO and Catapult Sports for their Clearsky Technology to track elite athletes; the winner of the Innovations and Inventions category, CSIRO for the Wideband Multibeam Phased Array Feed Receiver; and finalists in Innovations and Inventions, University of New South Wales, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Water Research Laboratory, NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries, and Port Stephens Fisheries Institute for their Specialist Barochambers.