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A newly formed partnership between CSIRO and multiple universities has sparked a new $18 million program, which aims to create technologies to assist with workplace safety across dangerous environments, including those within the energy sector. 

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, Swinburne University of Technology, the University of New South Wales, Curtin and the Australian National University have also signed up as partners.  

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 497,300 Australians suffered from a work-related injury or illness in 2021-22.  

All participating institutions are contributing funding and research expertise to the program, with the University of Queensland administering the funding. 

Prototypes will be built over five years and trialled in real-world job scenarios, with a focus on developing commercially viable products which are responsible by design.  

In the first project currently underway, researchers from Data61 and the University of Queensland are developing technologies to support crisis preparedness and response for workers in the energy industry.  

Researchers are initially working with stakeholders in the power industry to ensure prototypes are sensitive to industry needs. 

The $18 million Tech4HSE program strategically seeks to bring Australia’s university expertise and CSIRO’s capabilities together to maximise the impact of science, research, and development for Australians.  

Science Director of Data61, Professor Aaron Quigley, said 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 said.  

“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.”  

University of Queensland Tech4HSE Science Lead, Dr Mashhuda Glencross, said these projects present an exciting 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 said. 

Data61 Tech4HSE Science Lead, Dr Matt Adcock, said 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 said.  

Featured image: Tech4HSE researcher Stuart Anderson testing prototype augmented reality technology which highlights and alerts the headset wearer to a possible electrical hazard. Courtesy of CSIRO. 

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