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Two ACFR robots in action in a farm field, one wheeled, one drone
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Australian Centre for Field Robotics

One of the largest robotics research institutes in the world

We focus on the research, development and application of autonomous and intelligent robots, and systems for use in outdoor environments.

The Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR), part of the Sydney Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems, has been instrumental in developing breakthrough technologies, conducting world-renowned research and developing field robotics principles and systems.

Several past researchers from the centre have gone on to create successful startups which are advancing technology in a range of industries.

Key objectives

The centre's mission is to undertake research to develop new field robotics and intelligent systems theories and methods, and apply them in industrial, social and environmental settings.

We are committed to developing technologies in four core areas:

  • sensors, fusion and perception
  • movement, control and decisions
  • modelling, learning and adapting
  • architectures, systems and cooperation of robotics and intelligent systems.

Our research

Tour of Australian Centre for Field Robotics

Our people


Our researchers have gone onto create several successful startups, spanning industries including agriculture, defence and transport.

Many of these companies are gaining international interest and continue to collaborate with the Centre and provide opportunities to current students.

Abyss Solutions are creating the intelligence inside the automation systems of the future. An award-winning company, the Abyss team’s expertise spans across marine robotics, computer vision, machine learning, sensor technology and civil engineering.

Abyss Solutions revolutionises the industry landscape of advanced robotics, intelligent computer algorithms and data analytics, and innovative machine-learning technology to improve the safety for critical infrastructure in offshore oil and gas, water, transport, maritime, and defence sectors.

From re-designing robots on-the-fly, to being picked up in helicopters and conducting work on offshore vessels and oil rigs, there’s a lot of room to grow and develop at Abyss.

Agerris began in April 2019 with one of Australia’s largest AgTech seed funds, aimed at commercialising the robotic and Al technologies developed by the same team from the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics.

Prior to this the team secured close to $30m in R & D, prototype and operational funding from horticulture, grazing livestock, grains and cotton RDCs, as well as environmental agencies. The internationally recognised team has demonstrated its air and ground technologies and solutions across Australia and the lndo-Pacific.

Green Atlas is an agricultural services company that assists tree-crop growers in managing the lifecycle of every fruit on every tree in their orchard. Taking a novel approach to data gathering and processing, their unique and field proven patent-pending technology uses cameras and LiDAR mounted to a ground vehicle to scan crops at high speed with high reliability and repeatability.

The company operates in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, New Zealand, Chile, France, Spain and the USA, with more than 35,000 hectares scanned!

Green Atlas leverages a decade of world-leading University research in the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to tree crops, and works closely with Universities, industry peak bodies, and government departments to test and develop its products for further industry benefit.

Marathon Targets develops state of the art autonomous robots. The robots address the lack of realism in today's live-fire training: existing training devices are static or move predictably.

Their robotic targets are unique in the marketplace, as they navigate autonomously within a training area and use Artificial Intelligence to behave in a human-like manner. For example, if one target gets shot, the others can scatter and run for the nearest cover.

Marathon Targets was founded in 2007 by three researchers from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics. It is headquartered in Sydney with offices in the United States, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates.

Mission Systems is a robotics company based in Lane Cove West which was founded in 2017 by University of Sydney Engineering alumni Dr David Battle (PhD '99) and Dr David Johnson (PhD '09).

The company is working on a range of projects involving autonomous systems and sensing technologies with applications in transport and Defence. Mission Systems currently employs nine full-time staff, including five recent graduates from the Faculty of Engineering.

Navtech Radar is a world-leading innovator, award-winning designer and manufacturer of commercially deployed radar solutions. Its ground-breaking technology is used by clients across industry sectors, including Critical Infrastructure Security, Industrial Automation and Highways Safety.

Navtech has harnessed the power of the latest radar technology for commercial applications, offering cost-effective solutions of the highest quality. Renowned for investing heavily in research and development, Navtech has earned an unrivalled reputation for innovative products that are high performance, robust and extremely reliable. Its systems are often used in mission-critical applications where safety and security are vital.

Navtech Radar’s solutions are designed, manufactured and supported from its premises in Oxfordshire, UK.

Ocular Robotics is an Australian robotics company which designs, manufactures and markets RobotEye: the world’s most dynamic sensing platform and the only platform which brings together unmatched speed and simultaneous precision in one solution.

The Company’s products and application solutions leverage RobotEye’s motion bandwidth and sensor scope from the ultra-violet, through the visible and infra-red to deliver unique sensing capabilities across diverse markets.

RobotEye’s deployment on land, sea and air, in industry and harsh environments, for long range sensing and close inspection, sees it used across a growing range of sectors, including automation, robotics, defence and security, construction, research, pharmaceuticals and more.

Centre Director

Professor Ian Manchester
Academic profile

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