26 September 2023

Robots to draw borderline for a test

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The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is to put five remote-controlled robots to the test, inspecting imported cargo to see if they can be more effective and safer than present biosecurity arrangements.

Unveiled by the Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, David Littleproud, the ‘Hades-5Z’ robot units (pictured) will be part of a pilot program, funded under the Department’s Biosecurity Innovation Program.

According to Mr Littleproud the robots will be put through their paces by Biosecurity Officers during controlled, onsite inspections using imported freight such as sea containers, vehicles and heavy agricultural machinery.

“The trial will take place at post-entry sites in Adelaide, Fremantle, Darwin and Brisbane and are being run in collaboration with the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries,” Mr Littleproud said.

“The units are fitted with high definition and thermal imaging cameras (and) they’re very slimline so they can be sent in underneath consignments,” he said.

“Live footage of the cargo underside can be viewed by officers on monitors.”

Mr Littleproud said the robots had the potential to significantly reduce Work, Health and Safety (WHS) risks for officers.

“It’s hoped using robots will reduce the safety risk to officers,” he said.

“The robots will be tested on wharves and ports during hot and cold temperatures and high humidity”.

The Minister said the robots “will not replace valued staff” but were “an additional tool to help us keep Australia safe.”

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