Ian Manchester takes helm of national robotics research hub

9 August 2021
Centre to expand into robotics for medicine, space and disaster response
The Australian Centre for Field Robotics has announced Professor Ian Manchester, an expert in robot control systems and robust machine learning, as its new director.

Professor Ian Manchester and the Agility Robotics Cassie robot.

Professor Manchester’s first major initiative will be to lead the newly announced ARC Research Hub in Intelligent Robotic Systems for Real-Time Asset Management which has received $5 million from the federal government.

The hub brings together researchers from the University of Sydney, Queensland University of Technology and the Australian National University as well as 11 of Australia’s most innovative technology companies.

Over the next five years, the hub will develop new capabilities for intelligent robotic systems for inspection, monitoring, and maintenance of critical assets and infrastructure.

The Australian Centre for Field Robotics is one of the largest robotics research organisations in the world. It is internationally renowned for its fundamental research in robot perception and control and the development of autonomous systems operating in complex outdoor environments.

The centre’s research has had a major impact in numerous research areas, including:

The Australian Centre for Field Robotics has a proven track record in R&D and commercialisation, with its researchers and students having created multiple successful startup companies, including Agerris, Green Atlas, Abyss Solutions, Mission Systems, Marathon Targets, Navtech Radar and Occular Robotics.

Under Professor Manchester’s leadership, the centre will maintain a strong line of research in field robotics, but is also expanding into new fields. These include surgical robotics in a new purpose-built hybrid operating theatre in the Sydney Imaging Core Facility, space robotics in new projects funded by the Australian Space Agency and robotic systems for bushfire monitoring and response, through a project funded by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

“I’m delighted to be appointed the Director of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics: it is a fantastic centre with many creative and insightful students and staff, with a long history of both deep fundamental research and real-world impact,” said Professor Manchester, who has also worked and conducted research internationally at Umeå University in Sweden and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.

“The new ARC Research Hub and projects in medical, space and disaster response robots, as well as new fundamental research lines, including robot imaging and networked systems, paint a very exciting picture for the future of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics. We will soon recruit new PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and technical staff, so if you’re keen to get involved watch this space.”

Professor Manchester takes over as Director from Eduardo Nebot, who retires in 2021 but will continue to be involved in the Centre as an Emeritus Professor.


ITRH is working with industry partners Abyss Solutions, Advanced Navigation, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Blueprint Lab, Emesent,, Hullbot, Kai Systems, Nearmap Australia, Nexxis and Thales Australia.

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