GUS the Robotic guard

Following on from Luke Townsend’s involvement in surveillance and anti-poaching work in Africa while with the British Army, Luke has formed a local company of volunteers and shareholders to further provide means to help with anti-poaching initiatives in Africa.

In October 2022, the group competed in Brisbane at the International Land Forces Expo Pitchfest. To their utter surprise they won the Land Forces Innovation award.

They are now working with the Army which has awarded them a contract to build and supply four of their GUS (Ground Uncrewed System) prototypes for the Army Robotics Unit. The pressure is on. However, the team brings with them multiple skills and talents.

GUS (the robot) and Team

The company is collaborating with FedUni. It consists of Professor Gayan Appuhamillage and is supported by Dr. Hasitha Hewawasam and Jessica Dyke. Their roles are in radar, camera, autonomous systems, use of algorithms, programming and how Gus moves. The other members are Luke, wife Roxanne, his brother Duncan, Michael Saulle and Dr Ian Spark. Luke brings his on-the-ground experience and desire to make things better. Michael has panel beating and electrical skills. Duncan is a fitter and turner.

The team is excited with an energy to be part of this amazing project and realise the many ways this surveillance machine can be used. There is a lot of trust between the members to see this initial contract through by April.

The building of GUS has imposed policy guidelines for this team. They try to use as many Australian and local products as they can. Alian Electronics in Drouin and Traf Trailers have been great in supplying parts for the launching and recovery systems

Luke has also been able to pull in local people with skills to contribute, one example being a retired power station employee with vast experience. The Yinnar community has been so supportive also offering equipment and expertise, pinpointing faults.

The Army has been really good to work with too. Questions are asked, answers given. They are exceeding expectations with their support. The Robotics and Autonomous Systems Implementation and Co-Ordination Office has encouraged the team to diversify as GUS has so many applications for the technology it holds. Disaster relief, power supply, poaching and criminal detection, smoke detection from fire towers when people are not rostered are a few.

GUS has multi sub systems including a surveillance camera which allows it to detect and report. Each one needs to be administered. The artificial intelligence is really good for Africa to use as detection of poachers and criminals. The surveillance aspect can be listening and watching while the patrol is happening, or can be left in situ for extended linger times with its battery and generator. (The military calls the length of time you wait in a location linger time). Gus well exceeds the linger ability of flying systems to observe and detect and thus is a very useful entity.

May this project continue successfully and be a great advantage to those who employ it.