Submission to the Department of Industry, Science and Resources

Submission to the National Robotics Strategy Discussion Paper Consultation

Emerging robotics technologies are already creating huge opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing, health, defence, mining and transportation, and the industries affected by robotics will contribute to expand as the technology continues to develop. The National Robotics Strategy is an opportunity for the government to adopt a unified and coordinated approach to robotics in Australia. This has the potential to help build Australian industry, improve productivity and improve health outcomes.

To seize this opportunity, the National Robotics Strategy will need to ensure that robots are designed and used ethically and effectively. Data privacy, data bias, design bias and cybersecurity will all need to be considered and managed to ensure that the use of robots meets community expectations. Robotic systems produced by different suppliers will need to be able to work with each other in an integrated manner that will allow for coordinated networks of robots to meet the needs of Australian industries. These systems will require trained and skilled professionals to develop, build and maintain, necessitating strong educational pipelines. This will include the need for operator training in industries outside of robotics, such a surgery and agriculture, to ensure their successful implementation.

ATSE makes the following recommendations for the National Robotics Strategy:

Recommendation 1: Amend the definitions of Robots, Robotics, Cobotics and Drones in the National Robotics Strategy such that:

  • The mention of “intelligence” in the definition of Robots is replaced with either “machine intelligence” or “advanced control”;
  • The definition of Robotics describes it as “engineering, science and practice”;
  • The definition of Cobotics include a mention of interaction in physical space; and
  • The definition of Drones be expanded to include uncrewed land and sea vehicles.

Recommendation 2: Develop an ethical code of conduct for responsible deployment of robots that leverages the ethics frameworks being developed for the models that may be deployed in robotics.

Recommendation 3: Prioritise cybersecurity in robotics systems, including appropriate regulation of minimum security standards.

Recommendation 4: Create programs to promote open access robotics software and establishes common standards for interoperability between robotics systems.

Recommendation 5: Implement government procurement policies that prioritise the purchase of open, interoperable systems.

Recommendation 6: Include a workforce recruitment and retraining plan that includes upskilling and reskilling of the current workforce to operate robotic systems, and support for more places in engineering and electrical trade courses.

Recommendation 7: Interface with the Diversity in STEM review to encourage inclusion of underrepresented groups in the robotics workforce.