Young Engineers
Marita Cheng
Vision through artificial intelligence Co-Founder, Aipoly
BE (Mech), University of Melbourne

Aipoly is a smartphone app which helps blind people identify objects. The app and the company developing it are less than a year old.

It grew out of a program at Singularity University in California where entrepreneurs and technologists work together on team-based technology solutions for widespread global challenges. Australian roboticist Marita Cheng was teamed with Italian Alberto Rizzoli and Swede Simon Edwardsson.

Their current version can recognise about 1000 objects and the trio are working on the next version of the algorithm, which is able to recognise 5000 objects.

Cheng says the unique thing about the app is that all the computation happens on the phone, meaning it detects objects in real-time rather than having someone take a photo then send it over the internet to a cloud server.

“All you have to do is hold your phone, pass it over the various objects, and in real time it recognises chairs, the floor, tables, different colours,” says Cheng.

“A blind person would be able to have a much richer experience of the world through this kind of technology.”

Daniel Wilson
Airborne drone refuelling PhD Candidate, The University of Sydney
BE (Mechatronic, Space), The University of Sydney

Piloted aircraft have been capable of aerial refuelling for over 50 years, but previous attempts at autonomous airborne docking for drone refuelling have been unsuccessful.

The major challenge has been the highly accurate and reliable relative positioning performance required for a drone to dock with a small target, in midair, amid turbulence and in variable lighting conditions, with the resilience required of aircraft operating in close proximity.

This system comprises a set of guidance, navigation and control algorithms, along with an infrared camera system, GPS and inertial sensors, which together enable the accurate and reliable relative positioning required.

Keyvan Sartipi
Offshore Pipelay Analysis News Senior Installation Engineer, Technip
BEng (Civil), University of Southern Queensland
BEng (Ocean), University of Tasmania

Keyvan Sartipi’s innovation involved delivery of a design, construction and installation scope of work for an offshore gas project by his former employer Technip Oceania.

The team pioneered an analysis methodology and engineering software tools for deploying heavy, large and complex pipeline end termination units using retro-fitted passive heave compensation within the laydown rigging, which is a new pipelay technique.

This required combining expertise in hydrodynamic, mechanical and structural engineering with basic software engineering to create and use a versatile set of software tools.

Timothy Ryan
Winning @ Concept Demonstrator Aeronautical Engineer, Nova Systems
BE (Mech/Aerospace), University of Queensland

Afircraft equipment is subject to extremely high loads with strict weight limitations. Timothy Ryan helped increase the amount of available space on an aircraft with: a stowage system that occupied approximately half the usable space of the previous system; a mechanical device for protecting protrusions while maximising weapon’s coverage; and a pivoting and unfolding mechanism for accessories.

Dr Stefan Mauger
Noise Reduction (SNR-NR) Principal Research Engineer, Cochlear Limited
BE (Electronics, Biomedical, Neural), La Trobe University, Swinburne
University, University of Melbourne

SNR-NR is a cochlear implant specific noise reduction technology released as part of the SmartSound iQ sound processing suite in Cochlear’s Nucleus 6 system.

It provides over 20% improvement in speech understanding and a 55% improvement in listening quality.

It is the culmination of many engineering breakthroughs in auditory neuroscience and signal processing, which have led to a highly-specialised technology designed for the unique and specific characteristics found with cochlear implant users.

Since its recent release, and due to its very high user acceptance, it is already providing benefits to over 100,000 users around the world.

In real-life terms, this cochlear implant technology means children will have a better chance of learning in noisy classrooms, and adults will be able to venture out with more confidence to noisier environments such as cafes.

“Children will have a better chance of learning in noisy classrooms.”

Stephen Richardson
GUSS Deployment for Rural Qld Technology Innovation Engineer, Ergon Energy
BE (Electrical), Queensland University of Technology

The GUSS (Grid Utility Support System) Deployment project is an Australian  rst roll-out of 20 grid-connected battery energy storage systems (BESS) around rural Queensland. The first two have been installed near Charters Towers and are improving supply to rural Queensland.

The remainder are currently being installed and will avoid network upgrades. BESS has seldom been used on grids in the past due to its prohibitive cost. In addition to providing capacity and voltage support, it allows the network to run more effciently, reducing energy losses on the network, which in turn reduces CO emissions.

The use of energy storage can also help more renewables be connected to the network by catering for their intermittency, charging and discharging as required to smooth out these fluctuations and store excess renewable generation.

“BESS has seldom been used on grids in the past due to its prohibitive cost.”