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By Alison Donnellan 23 November 2020 6 min read

Price and technical expertise to effectively integrate research and technology can be barriers to entry for small businesses to invest in research.

CSIRO's Data61’s Early Adopter Program (EAP) makes low risk, affordable and customisable technologies available for Australian companies to trial and build upon, for use in potentially improving production efficiency and building new competitive advantages or markets.

Customers are provided with a piece of technology and IP that can be used with no upfront costs for 12 months and technical support is provided by CSIRO’s Data61. Customers then share insights on how the technology has been applied for different use cases. This leads to a further enhanced product that caters for a range of applications. The Program helps scale up businesses in a range of industries, such as manufacturing, supply chain, mining, energy and construction.

The EAP represents a new way of partnering that is low cost and low risk, with an exchange of insightful data analysis from Data61 and EAP partners. What makes the EAP program unique is its focus on providing Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies to deliver production efficiency enhancements for businesses in manufacturing and a range of other industries, placing digital, data and autonomous systems at the core of operations.

Wildcat is the first technology that has been made available as part of the Early Adopters Program, with more technologies to be launched in the coming months. 


Remote controlled robots require constant monitoring by an operator, but with perception pack Wildcat, these machines can operate autonomously. Wildcat enables a vehicle to map, analyse and navigate its surrounding environment without any human intervention, an action that could save resources, time and money. 

Designed to enable autonomy for robots working in a team, Wildcat is a cutting-edge 3D SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping) software with world-leading accuracy and robustness. The technology's highly-accurate mapping and positioning capabilities enable machines to successfully navigate unsafe, complex and unstructured environments without GPS or other external positioning information. 

The 'CatPack' perception system contains Wildcat software and can be attached to any ground robot or vehicle to provide real-time localisation and mapping data for autonomous operation and high-fidelity mapping. Developed by CSIRO's Data61, CatPack is available as part of the Wildcat EAP to streamline the evaluation process, with its reference design able to be licensed by EAP partners for the rapid development of a partner-specific version suitable for their particular application.

Wildcat’s performance and capability is based on ten years of cutting edge research, and is being showcased in the DARPA Subterranean Challengea prestigious international competition for autonomous systems, funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. 

It is designed to be one of the world's most versatile, robust and accurate SLAM solutions for use in: 

  • Perception systems for autonomous robots, drones and vehicles 
  • Robot teaming in challenging environments 
  • Real-time mapping and localisation for mobile applications 
  • Improved performance of existing sensor payloads 
  • High definition 3D multi-modal sensing 

Read more about Wildcat in action. 

Five partners have signed up to use Wildcat as part of the EAP program, with the first round of the program fully subscribed. 

Further rounds will be announced in the coming months.

CSIRO's Data61 Wildcat creating a detailed scan of an environment to act as a map for an autonomous robot.

Hear from our partners on how they are using Wildcat in different industries

COVID-19 response: Dr Stefan Hrabar, CEO and co-founder at Emesent:

“Since adopting Wildcat in 2018 for Hovermap, our smart mobile scanning unit, we have been able to achieve two main goals — aid our ability to map data in GPS-denied environments and support real-time state estimation and offline 3D map generation. This has been critical as we tackle high-risk, rugged environments, such as mines, so we can build more precise and globally correct 3D point clouds in real time.   

“Collaboration with CSIRO’s Data61 has been crucial in ensuring we remain at the forefront of drone autonomy and mapping developments, particularly amid the global pandemic. Most recently we were able to conduct a trans-continental remote demonstration for a drone service provider in South Africa, sending Hovermap down a tunnel in Queensland — something that wouldn’t be possible without the Wildcat technology to support.”  

Emergency response: Shawn Tansley, Managing Director at BIA5

“The use of technologies like Wildcat have the potential to transform key industries for Australia; from agriculture and biodiversity right through to emergency response planning. It’s business as usual for a lot of organisations, even as they navigate through these challenging times, but the ability to foster long standing collaboration and have access to vital technologies can have a profound impact on business performance.    

In the planning for how we are looking to integrate the Wildcat technology, we’ve seen it can be applied to help with everything from irrigation and groundwater testing through to fueling new technologies that map outdoor trails to monitor bushfire fuel loads to minimise the danger these possess. Access to these technologies is crucial to Australian businesses adopting a flexible, forward-thinking approach to their operations.” 

BIA5 Wildcat
A BIA5 OzBot Titian equipped with Data61's Wildcat perception technology.

Data driven business: Dr Graham Hunter, CEO GeoSLAM

“The potential SLAM represents across industry globally is significant. Emerging SLAMs like Wildcat will continue to fuel the growth of data driven spatial information. From the built environment and finding increasingly smarter ways of understanding and managing buildings, to assisting in the way we manage and protect the natural world, Wildcat SLAM will play an important role in data driven digital transformation. 

“GeoSLAM introduced the first handheld SLAM product commercially, and the team are actively testing and developing solutions based on the strongest and most robust SLAM. 


Autonomous Security Solutions: Charles Murphy, Managing Director, Strategic Elements Ltd

“Stealth Technologies is developing the Autonomous Security Vehicle (ASV) for perimeter security in sectors such as transport, energy, defence, government and utilities providing critical services. We are also exclusively collaborating with giant US Fortune 100 Company Honeywell to build autonomous security vehicles for the correctional justice sector. 

The Wildcat SLAM technology can potentially provide game changing features to our autonomous robotics platform with a key technological advantage in enabling its ASV’s to work in teams and provide enhanced security and surveillance solutions to its customers.” 

A fully autonomous robotic security vehicle is being developed for Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison. Image credit: Strategic Elements Ltd.

Mining and digital twins : Matt Warner, Director at AutoMap

“Access to technologies like Wildcat will pave the way for key industries to take an insular look at their operations, helping to drive key operational performance benefits with agility and adaptability in mind.  

“In the eight months we’ve been integrating Wildcat, we’ve found new ways to support industries like mining, improving how they map new underground environments and use this data to create digital twin systems for improving planning and analysis.”  

The Early Adopter Program builds on CSIRO’s mission-driven focus to power small and medium-size enterprise growth in Australia by improving access to research and development (R&D). Small and medium enterprises interested in learning more about EAP, or the range of SME services offered by CSIRO, please contact CSIRO enquiries.


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