Media Release

Corporate academic partnership shapes next generation of social robotics innovation

22 August 2016
Leading Australian corporate-academic partnership shapes next generation social robotics innovation

Commonwealth Bank, Stockland, Australian Technology Network of Universities and University of Technology Sydney partner to invest in research & development of social robotics

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Stockland, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) are pioneering technology innovation and research into artificial intelligence through a leading corporate-academic partnership in social robotics.

This partnership will contribute to the growing field of global research in social robotics by identifying opportunities and limitations in human-robot interaction and exploring commercial applications of social robotics across a number of industries.

Commonwealth Bank’s Sydney Innovation Lab will be used as a testing environment for students and academics of Australia’s leading technology universities to conduct research and development using Chip, a humanoid robot owned by the bank and the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, Group Executive Institutional Banking & Markets at Commonwealth Bank of Australia said, “The development of robotics and artificial intelligence will affect all of us in the future. We have invested in Chip and this academic partnership to ensure Australia remains at the forefront of knowledge and thought leadership when it comes to disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence and social robotics. The research will help us better understand the impact social robotics will have on the lives of people, customers and industries across Australia.”

Commonwealth Bank has established a social robotics team within its Sydney Innovation Lab to better connect clients and industry with Australia’s leading academics in the space.

Mark Steinert, Managing Director and CEO, Stockland said, “We joined this social robotics partnership to explore how emerging technologies may play a positive role in our business and the broader community in the future. We’re interested in how robotics could be used in our business parks and logistics centres, shopping centres and our residential and retirement living communities. For Stockland this partnership is about defining the future rather than waiting for it to happen to us.”

Mary-Anne Williams, Professor and Director of the Innovation and Enterprise Research Laboratory (The Magic Lab) at UTS, said, “This project is a watershed moment for robotics research in Australia and globally. We’re excited to see companies like Stockland and Commonwealth Bank investing in social robotics and opening doors to universities, research institutes and the next generation of robotics students. While there are research challenges and risks associated with the broader field of robotics, there are also extraordinary benefits for companies seeking to establish and maintain a leadership position in the disruptive field of social robotics.”

Renee Hindmarsh, Executive Director at ATN said, “Through the partnership, we hope the program will continue to provide opportunities for our students to develop further research and development discoveries that will be vital in shaping the next generation of social robotics innovation.”

The UTS Magic Labs and ATN students working on the project draw from academic backgrounds including robotics and artificial intelligence, data analytics, IT and engineering, business and law; and have worked on high-profile projects with organisations like NASA and IBM, winning multiple awards in Australia and overseas.


Corporate-academic partnership shapes social robotics innovation
Corporate-academic partnership shapes social robotics innovation
About Chip

Developed by Spanish company PAL Robotics, Chip is an advanced humanoid robot with a face, arms and torso, and one of only three models in the world. Chip is 1.7 metres tall, weighs 100 kilograms, has a 12.1” touch screen, and has a sophisticated mix of cameras, lasers, ultrasounds, microphones and speakers which allow Chip to recognise faces, converse with people and answer questions, grasp and move objects and move around independently in the same way a person does.

About UTS Magic Labs

Established in 2002 the Innovation and Enterprise Research Lab is Australia’s leading social robotics research group. It aims to bring science fiction to reality; the research objective is to design autonomous technologies that can learn and adapt as they engage and work with people to create new value. The Magic Lab is home to Steve Wozniak co-founder of Apple, Peter Gärdenfors on the Nobel Prize Committee, and more than a dozen social robotics researchers and PhD Students. The lab is part of an international social robotics network that includes Stanford University, UC Berkeley, MIT, Bosch and Samsung.

About the Australian Technology Network of Universities

The Australian Technology Network (ATN) brings together five innovative and enterprising universities across the nation: Curtin University, University of South Australia, RMIT University, University of Technology Sydney and Queensland University of Technology. All ATN universities feature in the world’s top 25 universities under 50 years old (QS University Rankings 2015/2016). Collectively, their market share of the Australian higher education sector is significant, educating almost 20% of Australia’s university students and 22% of Australia’s international students. 93% of ATN assessed research is ranked at world class or above (ERA 2015), and two thirds of ATN research income has come from industry since 2010. The ATN is a leading voice in promoting partnerships between industry to create new practical learning opportunities for our students and to deliver practical results through real-world research.

About Stockland

Stockland (ASX: SGP) was founded in 1952 and has grown to become Australia’s largest diversified property group – owning, developing and managing a large portfolio of shopping centres, residential communities, retirement living villages, office and industrial assets. Stockland was recognised by the S&P Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) as the as the global real estate sector leader for 2015-16, demonstrating world leadership across the areas of stakeholder engagement, customer relationship management, supply chain management, biodiversity and climate change strategy. Stockland was recognised as the Regional Sector Leader for Listed, Australian, Diversified Property Companies in the 2015 GRESB Report.

Further information

Media contacts

Fiona Bednarz
Commonwealth Bank Media
0455 074 389  

Monique Brown
Stockland Media Relations
0438 995 791

Renee Hindmarsh
Australian Technology Network of Universities
0416 265 038

 Leading Australian corporate academic partnership shapes next generation social robotics innovation