'Skynet' professor to lead NICTA

 

Robotics expert takes top job.

National ICT Australia (NICTA) has appointed robotics expert Hugh Durrant-Whyte as its new chief executive officer.

Professor Durrant-Whyte was a research director of Mechatronic Engineering at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems hosted at the Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney.

The centre researched and developed autonomous systems that learned from their environments in industries such as mining and manufacturing.

He has published more than 350 scientific papers, was a Fellow of the Royal Society and raised more than $50 million from industry.

He was due to begin at NICTA in December, replacing founding chief executive officer David Skellern, who steps down next March after a handover period, NICTA said.

Durrant-Whyte said getting technology "out the door" that met industry's needs was "one of NICTA's most important tasks" because it "generates wealth for Australia".

"It is an exciting time for ICT research in Australia with the advent of the National Broadband Network and I am confident that NICTA can play an important role in finding solutions to some of the pressing challenges we face in sectors such as healthcare, energy, transport and logistics," Durrant-Whyte said.

Durrant-Whyte recently spun out Marathon Robotics that developed smart targets for live-fire exercises to train law enforcement and military marksmen, for which it recently won a $57 million contract with the US Navy.

In the '90s he pioneered work in probabilistic methods for robotics that gave autonomous vehicles the ability to operate in difficult conditions.

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