Seeing Machines: A robotic revolution

Tuesday 5 September 2017
The Shaker's picture

From working at ANU's robotics lab to running a company that has a turnover of $23million and 160 passionate workers, Ken Kroeger has made a mark in the technology sphere. CEO of Seeing Machines he has a noteworthy track record of accomplishments and at the ripe age of 55yrs old he is still creating things that are fresh. His company Seeing Machines was ranked number 6 on the BRW list of Most Innovative Companies for 2015.

Here is the conversation leading up to his appearance at the next TedXCanberra:

I see myself as a generalist. Through various roles, and my time running companies, I’ve been fortunate to have in-depth exposure to an incredibly wide variety of industries, governments and defence/security agencies at an international level. This has allowed me to develop a pretty good understanding of how technology can be applied to help people and organisations perform at a higher or safer level.

At Seeing Machines, where I’m CEO, we’re currently working with many of the world’s major automotive manufacturers to integrate camera-based driver monitoring into their upcoming new car models. The technology monitors the driver’s face and eyes to ensure that they are not overly distracted or having micro sleeps and making driving unsafe for themselves, their passengers and other road users. The technology will also be used to support the first generation of autonomous cars. The self-driving technology is still very immature and the vehicle needs to know if the driver is in position to take control at short notice when required.

What does Designing The Future, our TEDx Canberra theme, mean to you?

We often hear technology being called disruptive. I don’t think that’s quite right. Changes brought about by technology are almost invisible at the start and are actually slow and progressive.

Technologies are designed and built from an original inventor, their ideas and concepts. For me, TEDxCanberra Designing The Future is all about how these ideas come about. How through very hard work and personal commitment and determination, they might someday bring positive changes to people, cities and the world.

One of Seeing Machines products, recently licensed to Caterpillar, has become a standard safety feature in the world’s giant mining trucks and equipment.

The mining industry operates non-stop 24/7 and the operators perform the same tasks for 12 hours at a time for seven consecutive days followed by seven consecutive nights. Fatigue is a major risk and the consequences are often fatal.

Our Mining Driver Safety System monitors the operator in real time and wakes them if they fall asleep at the wheel (unfortunately not an uncommon event). The technology helps ensure that these operators make it home safely to their family and friends. Since its inception six years ago, we have monitored tens of millions of driving hours without a fatigue related accident.

What can our TEDx Canberra audience expect to hear from you? (without giving away too much!)

Handheld mobile devices have changed the way a significant percentage the world works and communicates. Unfortunately, their influence is having a highly adverse effect on road safety statistics. This is one of the incentives for driverless cars. I’ll share why driverless cars might or might not happen.

What are you most looking forward to sharing at the event?

Our work at Seeing Machines, a spinout from ANU, today performs on a world stage. Bringing that message back to the campus where the original ideas were formed over 16 years ago seems very appropriate.

Why is Canberra great, do you think, for Designing The Future?

I’ve lived and worked in many places. The support from government for businesses here is almost unparalleled and the ACT’s quality of life, growing cultural diversity, facilities and natural, healthy setting allows companies to draw and retain world-class talent.

Have you got your ticket to hear Ken speak yet? If not, regsiter here.


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