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New lab in Australia to focus on human-autonomous agent teaming

A new International Research Laboratory (IRL) launched in the last week of February 2021 will focus on humans-autonomous agents teaming: an area of research at the interface of artificial intelligence, computer science, engineering, technology, human factors and psychology.

The French Australian Laboratory for Humans-Autonomous Agents Teaming, shortened to CROSSING, is a collaboration between the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the University of South Australia, University of Adelaide, Flinders University, French technological university IMT Atlantique, and Naval Group, the only industrial partner.

An IRL is a flagship international collaboration mechanism used by CNRS, France’s leading scientific research centre. The new IRL is called CROSSING because it represents the crossover of ideas that is at the heart of this important collaboration.

The Director of the lab stated that the CROSSING Lab will bring together leading French and Australian scientists from artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer science, engineering, psychology and human factors. They will work together to tackle important challenges in finding new ways for systems and humans to work together.

“The outcomes could provide significant advances in the way operators use control systems on ships, maintenance platforms in industry or services to assist within the home, and the way these systems are developed to assist and improve human performance to make work safer and more efficient,” he said.

The CROSSING Lab will join a network of more than 70 IRLs but will become one of only five international research laboratories with industry partners in the world. It will join the ranks of other labs in global innovation hubs, including Singapore, China, Japan and the United States of America.

Based in Adelaide, the CROSSING Lab will be a unique multidisciplinary facility in Australia that provides an opportunity for South Australia to be at the forefront of research into frontier technologies highly relevant to future industries.

“At the CROSSING lab we will develop new ways for humans to work with robots and autonomous systems,” said a professor from the University of Adelaide’s School of Psychology, who is Co-Director of the new lab.

She noted that human operators will cooperate with high-level automata, robots or adaptive information systems able to produce knowledge and to explore the physical or informational environment on their own.

Each partner brings complementary expertise to the research partnership:

  • The University of Adelaide’s Australian Institute of Machine Learning (AIML) brings expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning. In the field of interactive and virtual environments and human performance;
  • The University of South Australia has expertise in sleep and fatigue analysis;
  • IMT Atlantique has expertise and facilities in virtual and augmented reality and embedded and human-centric AI;
  • Flinders University has expertise in autonomous systems, human factors and industry 4.0 advanced manufacturing;
  • The Naval Group will share its world-class expertise from areas including embedded intelligence, optimised architectures, unmanned vehicles, the industry of the future and human performance measurement.

The new lab was launched on 22 February 2021 by the Premier of South Australia and was attended by the French Ambassador to Australia.

According to a recent article, the Australian job market will shrink by 11%, or 1.5 million workers over the next decade. But as some jobs are lost, others will be created (1.7 million by 2030), and many more will transform into the gig economy.

Workers unable or unwilling to accept the transition will depart the traditional workforce entirely. Accompanying these digital outcasts will be a wave of mission-based evacuees seeking a more values-aligned work life, taking advantage of Australia’s world-leading policy settings for social entrepreneurship.

According to forecasts by US-based a research and advisory company, the demand for technical skills will boost the ranks of digital elites by 33%. A shortage of skills to build new digital solutions will fuel massive growth in the digital elite cohort. Demand for tech specialists with skills in big data, process automation, human/machine interaction, robotics engineering, blockchain, and machine learning will offset the 8% of more traditional technology roles that can be fully automated by 2030.

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