Underground mapping drones and autonomous security robots are among some of the new technologies being shared with Australian SMEs as part of a COVID recovery program launched today by Australia’s science agency.

The CSIRO is sharing some of its more easily adoptable, translatable and reasonably priced automation technologies with its commercial partners in the manufacturing, supply chain, mining, energy and construction sectors. 

Wildcat is a new automation technology developed by the CSIRO’s digital arm Data61. Already it has been trialled by drone company Emesent to 3D map mining tunnels while other businesses say they have plans to use it in security, asset monitoring and agriculture.

The partnerships and technology sharing are part of the CSIRO’s “Early Adopter Program”, which aims to have SMEs integrate the emerging technology into their businesses and spur Australia’s economic recovery and further investment.

Wildcat is also being trialled by commercial partners in Australia including CSIRO spin-out Emesent, BIA5, AutoMap, Strategic Elements Ltd (ASX:SOR) subsidiary Stealth Technologies, as well as GeoSLAM in the UK.

“At this pivotal time in our history, the inclination is to batten down the hatches and postpone investments, when actually small business who double down on innovation can be part of driving our recovery from this pandemic-led recession and land us back in a much stronger position,” said CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall.

 “COVID-19 has disrupted every element of our lives, and while the devastating loss of life can’t be understated, we have an opportunity to determine the new kind of Australian economy we want to emerge from this crisis – one driven by innovation.

The national science agency has warned Australia needs to take significant “leaps” in science and technology to maximise its COID-19 recovery.

“The Early Adopter Program is about getting new technology into the hands of industry as early as possible so they can trial, tweak, and ultimately create new value for their business,” said Dr Jon Whittle, director of CSIRO’s Data61.

 “Industry 4.0 automation technologies like Wildcat will play a particularly important role in enabling the digital transformation of industries. We’re seeing our partners create new value by using Wildcat to improve their understanding of different environments from irrigation systems, to mines, to bushfire fuel loads.”

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