Hugh Durrant-Whyte is a world-renowned robotics scientist who is particularly interested in developing outdoor ‘field’ robots. These can be used in the air, underwater or on the ground for wide-ranging applications, including agriculture, conservation, mining and defence work. For example, Hugh has created flying weed-spraying drones for use in remote areas and a cargo-handling airport terminal in Brisbane, Australia.
His work in developing nonlinear filtering techniques for robot control led to the development of simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM). SLAM algorithms are used in a number of applications, including self-driving cars, drones and autonomous underwater vehicles.
In 2008, Hugh was named National Professional Engineer of the Year by Engineers Australia’s Sydney Division, and in 2010 he was awarded NSW Scientist of the Year. He delivered a popular talk, entitled ‘What is a robot?’, at TEDxSydney in 2012.