CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, will join forces with five universities to keep people safe at hazardous workplaces using the latest digital technologies.
The $18-million Tech4HSE program unites leading researchers in emerging technologies such as generative and immersive artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality and cybersecurity to develop tech to aid those working in dangerous environments.
The program is led by CSIRO’s data and digital arm, Data61, and the University of Queensland (UQ). Swinburne, UNSW, Curtin and ANU have also signed up as partners.
Technology for HSE
Science director of Data61, Professor Aaron Quigley, says the technologies developed will support health, safety and environmental (HSE) objectives across a wide 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,” Prof. Quigley says.
“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.”
Energy workers the focus of project number one
The initial project involves researchers from Data61 and UQ developing technologies to enhance crisis preparedness and response for workers in the energy industry.
Data61 Tech4HSE science lead Dr Matt Adcock says one example of the technology being developed will combine 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,” Dr Adcock says.
Researchers are initially working with stakeholders in the power industry to ensure prototypes are sensitive to industry needs.
Tackling injury in hazardous workplaces
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 497,300 Australians suffered from a work-related injury or illness in 2021-22. UQ Tech4HSE science lead Dr Mashhuda Glencross says these projects present an opportunity to make an impactful difference.
“The innovative technologies we are researching and developing in this initiative are aimed at supporting the safety of Australians during disasters and when working in potentially hazardous environments,” Dr Glencross says.
Prototypes will be built over five years and trialled in real-world job scenarios, with a focus on developing commercially viable products that are responsible by design.