Robotics expert named NSW Chief Scientist

Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, the next NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer

The NSW Government has appointed world-renowned robotics expert Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte the next NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer.

Professor Durrant-Whyte, currently Chief Scientific Adviser for the UK Ministry of Defence, would start in the role on September 3, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the state minister for trade and industry Niall Blair said in a statement.

Professor Durrant-Whyte is known for his pioneering work on probabilistic methods for robotics. The algorithms developed in his group since the early 1990s permit autonomous vehicles to deal with uncertainty and to localise themselves despite noisy sensor readings.

The NSW government is looking to benefit from Professor Durrant-Whyte’s advice in extending the applications of robotics and automation in the state.

“Professor Durrant-Whyte is a globally recognised figure who brings vast knowledge and experience to the role,” Premier Berejiklian said.

“He is a pioneer in autonomous robotics who is known for his work in delivering automated container terminals at Port Botany and he has also been involved in developing autonomous solutions for mine sites.”

Minister Blair said the appointment of Professor Durrant-Whyte will ensure NSW continues to lead the world in the development of new applications in robotics and artificial intelligence.

“Professor Durrant-Whyte is tasked with drawing together business, research and government to drive innovation in the State, while also providing independent advice,” Minister Blair said.

Professor Durrant-Whyte would replace Mary O’Kane, who was appointed in 2008 as NSW’s first Chief Scientist & Engineer.

Professor Durrant-Whyte was recently Director of the Centre for Translational Data Science at the University of Sydney, formerly Chair of the NSW Government’s Innovation and Productivity Council, and formerly head of National ICT Australia, now CSIRO’s Data61.

He has won numerous awards for his work including being named the 2010 NSW Scientist of the Year.