Hugh Durrant-Whyte discusses 'Big Data' at Science & Research seminar

1 Jan 1970

Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte is the CEO of National ICT Australia (NICTA) and is a world leader in large-scale field robotics, with over 350 published research papers and numerous awards, including the 2010 NSW Scientist of the Year. In this instalment of the popular breakfast seminar series, Hugh spoke about Big Data, highlighting the major advancements taking place in data fusion and analytics which will fundamentally change the way we understand and manage our world.

Speech summary:

The increasing availability of massive amounts of data is driving profound changes across all areas of science, health, business and society. From genomics to geology, from banking to blogging, the explosion of data is all around us.  The major challenge in this era of data however is 'analytics', how this data is managed, aggregated and transformed into knowledge and actionable information: How to find the knowledge needles in the data haystack.

Professor Durrant-Whyte spoke about the rapid progress being made in machine learning and the science of analytics, a defining challenge in information technology which has the opportunity to bring about a transformational change to the way we understand and manage our world.

Addressing this challenge requires major coordinated advances in three key areas: Information Assimilation, Feature Discovery and Distributed Computation. This talk described NICTA's work in this area with reference to a number of major large-scale analytics projects.


Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte is the CEO of National ICT Australia (NICTA) and has been described by Professor Sir Michael Brady, Oxford University, as "the undisputed world leader in field Robotics, a discipline which he and his colleagues invented".

Professor Durrant-Whyte has made major contributions in two significant fields of research: autonomous robot navigation and multi sensor data fusion. In each case he can claim to have pioneered the mathematical development of the field, published important high-impact contributions, and then led developments through to substantial commercial implementation and business outcomes for Australia, particularly in the area of large-scale field robotics.

Professor Durrant-Whyte was previously a Professor and ARC Federation Fellow at the University of Sydney, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems and the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR). He has published over 350 research papers and founded four successful start-up companies.

Professor Durrant-Whyte has received much recognition for his achievements, winning numerous awards and prizes for his work, including the 2009 ATSE Clunes Ross Award. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (FTSE), of the IEEE (FIEEE), of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA), and the Royal Society (FRS). He was named the 2008 Professional Engineer of the Year by the Institute of Engineers Australia Sydney Division and the 2010 NSW Scientist of the Year.

About the Science & Research breakfast seminar series:

The Science & Research breakfast seminar series aims to give executives in the business, law and finance sectors a better understanding of key science and research issues and their impact on business, the economy and the community.

The seminars have featured prominent leaders in reproductive technology, photonics, and quantum computing including Laureate Professor John Aitken, Professor Ben Eggleton and Professor Michelle Simmons.  They provide unfiltered, informative material about key issues and open up the conversation between the business and professional communities and the experts at the heart of leading edge science and research.

The speakers appearing are the top experts of their research disciplines and outstanding communicators.