Re-Evolving Nature’s Best Positioning Systems for People and Their Machines: Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship 2022-2027

Everything that moves is defined and limited by its ability to navigate the world in which it exists. The overall aim of the Fellowship is to build a new generation of positioning technologies that will give Australia two crucial capabilities:

  1. A sovereign and uninterruptable positioning technology suite that gives Australian defence forces, industry, government, and society the positioning capabilities offered by current paradigms like Global Positioning Systems (GPSs)without risky dependence on satellites, and
  2. A new utility-maximisation approach to positioning technology development that makes these systemsfit-for-purpose,interpretable,privacy-preserving, andtrustedby their end-users, among them people, social networks, robots, drones, and autonomous vehicles.

We are looking for PhD students across four key research programs (who will join 4 Research Fellows, and up to 25 undergraduate thesis students). Stipends and top-ups available for all projects.

Research Program 1: Re-evolving Nature’s Best Positioning Systems

The animal kingdom hosts an astounding range of positioning capabilities, but no single organism reigns supreme. We will develop hybrid models of the best-performing and best-understood neural and behavioural positioning components from multiple species, including humans, other mammals, and insects.

Research Program 2: Trusted and Explainable Positioning through Auditable Neural Networks

Current positioning solutions based on machine learning cannot achieve enough performance while retaining sufficient provability and explainability characteristics for their transformative use in industry and society. A new class of ultra-compact, high-performance biologically inspired neural network approaches can potentially provide the required level of performance and a sufficiently compact network structure to be interrogated and audited for validation and verification.

Research Program 3: An Enriched and Functionally Relevant Understanding of Position and Place

The knowledge of where a human or robot is located moves far beyond the sparse co-ordinate representation provided by GPS or an INS system. How that entity navigates and makes decisions depends on a richer understanding of the place it finds itself in – its characteristics, dynamics, and functional relevance to the tasks being performed.

Research Program 4: Privacy-compliant and Cyber-secure Positioning

Creating a new generation of positioning technology that meets technical performance requirements is not enough: the utility of these systems will critically depend on whether that positioning information can be shared whilst maintaining the privacy and security of that information. Rather than attempt to retroactively deal with these problems in a separate privacy or cybersecurity framework, we’ll develop the architecture of the positioning systems themselves to achieve these goals.

Funding / Grants

  • Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship 2022-2027

Chief Investigators