A first-of-its-kind review into Australia’s remote operations capability has found it can help reduce workplace accidents and improve employee diversity.
The year-long review by the Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth (AROSE) consortium, with support from National Energy Resources Australia, also found that the use of remote operations is more pervasive than may be widely understood.
The review showed that the majority of industries surveyed had implemented remote operations because it made the workplace safer.
“Removing people from potentially high-risk environments such as offshore facilities, maintenance vessels, or mine sites means less workplace accidents or incidents,” AROSE chief executive officer Leanne Cunnold said.
“Industries that are using remote operations told the review authors that the key priority for them was about improving safety, followed by increasing productivity and greater sustainability.
“Operating remote equipment from cities or regional centres also provides more opportunities for employees with family commitments or who are differently-abled to join a workforce that has traditionally been male-dominated.”
The review highlighted challenges including a lack of awareness about enabling technologies, filling skilled positions and the need for greater standards and regulation.
“This review has highlighted Australia’s world-leading capabilities, but there is still a great deal of work to be done with industry, government and academia to strengthen our national economy and to continue developing a highly specialised, coordinated technology ecosystem,” Cunnold said.
Australia’s expertise at managing multiple assets across long distances has been recognised by NASA, which reached an agreement in October for Australia to build a semi-autonomous rover to collect lunar soil.
The rover is part of Australia’s Trailblazer program in the Federal Government’s Moon to Mars initiative.