When Brisbane mechanical engineer Jeff Sterling founded Universal Fields Robots his goal was to bring fully-autonomous robots with industrial-scale capabilities to the marketplace.

In 2019 – with the latest addition to the company’s prize cupboard a blue ribbon at the Australian Technologies Competition – Jeff and his team are consolidating their reputation as a technology SME with global potential.

“We went into robotics with the goal of making the world a safer, more efficient and productive place,” says Jeff.

“We are building amazing machines, equipped with cutting-edge sensing and computing technology that can deliver across a range of applications from fruit picking to tree harvesting, road construction and mining.

“Central to our thinking is not re-inventing machines but taking off the shelf technology and transforming it with multiple sensors and computers into an operating platform that can run autonomously, semi-autonomously or manually with effectively a video game controller.”

One ‘off the shelf’ platform with mining and exploration appeal – and first prize at the Australian Technologies Competition – is a pocket Caterpillar excavator modified to operate a marriage of UFR robotic software with Imdex downhole navigation technology.

“The excavator platform is ideally suited to modification for blast hole logging or truck refuelling – above or below ground and with minimal call on valuable human resources,” notes Jeff.

“Importantly for mining applications, the story doesn’t end there as UFR technology can be applied to other vehicles such as ATVs and trucks.

“By building off proven technology, we leverage the strength of others and focus ourselves on what we do best.”

Developing a bespoke robotic platform that meets customer requirements involves what UFR calls a ‘co-creation’ process comprising:

Ideation – a workshop session that produces a 3D simulation of the desired concept for review by the development team and customer.

Innovation – design, software development, engineering, prototype build, testing and proof of concept. Development of purpose designed attachments and necessary custom software.

Implementation – risk assessments; management system review, infrastructure review (communications, GPS), procedure development, peer review and validation, site access and on-site testing. Modifications and corrections to achieve desired performance and commercial agreements.

Building supply – refining production design, impending manufacturing scale, finalising initial orders.

Operation – site operation support, ongoing development enhancements for future models.

For more about UFR and its capabilities, call them on (07) 3666 0006 or drop them an email at: hello@universalfieldrobots.com.au

Click here for a video presentation.