Engineer honoured for autonomous navigation research

By on 19 June, 2019

Professor Michael Milford receiving the Batterham Medal on June 13 in Sydney.

An engineer working at the intersection of neuroscience, robotics and computer vision has been awarded the Batterham Medal for his work with autonomous vehicles.

The Batterham Medal is awarded annually by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, named for renowned chemical engineer Professor Robin Batterham, who became Chief Scientist of Australia in 1999.

Professor Michael Milford of the electrical engineering faculty at Queensland University of Technology was awarded the medal for 2019, presented on June 13 at a gala event in Sydney.

Professor Milford conducts interdisciplinary research at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision, with his current project taking an AI-based navigation system on a 1,200 kilometre roadtrip, in collaboration with Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and the iMOVE Co-operative Research Centre (iMOVE CRC).

His research examines how the human brain handles navigation and perception, and whether these processes can be applied to navigation for autonomous vehicles in all weather conditions.

“The big problem that faces autonomous vehicles right now is that at the moment they don’t drive as well as humans in all possible conditions,” he said.

“We’re targeting how the car might use infrastructure, such as lane markings and street signage, to help it to drive well.”

Professor Milford’s group’s research has collaborated with Harvard and Oxford universities, Google Deepmind, Caterpillar, the US Air Force and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE, president the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, praised Professor Milford’s work.

“The nation’s future prosperity depends on embracing new technology to address critical national challenges. More than ever, we need knowledge creation, technology and innovation that can be harnessed to drive commercialisation and economic and social benefit,” he said.

“Professor Milford has made a tremendous contribution – translating abstract neuroscience concepts into rugged technology that can be trialled for real-world applications.”

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