CSIRO launches $18m project to develop worker safety tech

Friday, 17 November, 2023

CSIRO launches $18m project to develop worker safety tech

A partnership between CSIRO and multiple universities will lead to the development of a new $18 million program, which aims to create technologies to keep Australians safe at work. The Tech4HSE program will unite researchers in emerging technologies, such as generative and immersive artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality and cybersecurity, to develop state-of-the-art technology to support those working in dangerous environments. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 497,300 Australians suffered from a work-related injury or illness in 2021–22.

The program is led by CSIRO’s data and digital arm, Data61, and the University of Queensland, Swinburne University of Technology, the University of New South Wales, Curtin University, and the Australian National University have also signed up as partners. All participating institutions will contribute funding and research expertise to the program, with UQ to administer the funding.

Professor Aaron Quigley, the Science Director of Data61, said the technologies developed will support health, safety and environmental (HSE) objectives for a range of industries. “Whether they’re working with electrical equipment, heavy machinery or on our roads, millions of Australians put themselves in harm’s way every day to help and serve others. We’re bringing the best researchers in the nation together to help get everyone home safely, by creating advanced digital tools for training, identifying and monitoring hazards, and planning responses and actions,” Quigley said.

UQ Tech4HSE Science Lead Dr Mashhuda Glencross said the innovative technologies being researched and developed in this initiative are aimed at supporting the safety of Australians during disasters and when working in potentially hazardous environments. Prototypes will be built over five years and trialled in real-world job scenarios, with a focus on developing commercially viable products which are responsible by design. Researchers from Data61 and UQ are currently developing technologies to support crisis preparedness and response for workers in the energy industry.

Data61 Tech4HSW Science Lead Dr Matt Adcock said an example of the technology being developed combines state-of-the-art computer vision models and 3D generative AI. “Our aim is to take smart glasses to a new level by enabling the placement of helpful digital holograms within the physical work environment to support emergency response safety training and assisted decision-making under heightened stress levels,” Adcock said.

Researchers will work with stakeholders in the power industry to ensure prototypes are sensitive to industry needs. The program aims to bring Australia’s university expertise and CSIRO’s capabilities together to maximise the impact of science, research and development.

Image caption: Electricians and workers supporting energy networks in Australia will benefit from investment in the next generation of technology to keep them safe at work. Image credit: CSIRO

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