Data61 launches ‘digital twin’ lab in Melbourne


An object being scanned using CSIRO’s patented stereo depth fusion technology for depth estimation. Source: CSIRO

CSIRO’s data innovation group Data61 has launched a lab that allows “digital twins” — virtual replicas of physical objects and systems — to be created by and for various industries.

The Melbourne-based Mixed Reality Lab collects detailed data about an object and its surroundings using industrial and consumer optical cameras and sensing equipment. Sophisticated algorithms then merge the data to create a digital twin in minutes.

Dr Simon Barry, Analytics and Decision Sciences research director at Data61, said the lab blurs the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.

“This is the future of smart factories, where the digitalisation of the full value chain will enable real-time situational awareness and lead to better decision making and planning,” he said.

“Digital twins of manufacturing processes, human movement, and even our cities and infrastructure will significantly improve productivity, reduce costs and transform all manner of industries.”

According to digital government specialist Allan Barger, the concept of the digital twin can even be applied to represent agencies, ministries, legislation, policies, and the people who make up a government — and improve it through increased understanding of the system.


READ MORE: A digital government twin can model effects of change over time, optimising machinery of government


The lab utilises research expertise across machine learning, computer vision, computational modelling, depth estimation and more, according to Data61’s senior software engineer, Matt Bolger.

“This technology is game-changing for manufacturing and other industries,” he said.

“By comparing a digital twin of a manufactured object against the original design, we can quickly, accurately and cost-effectively identify defects and map entire manufacturing processes across a global supply chain.

“Defective components can be identified in real-time and corrected, while downstream processes can be adjusted to minimise the impact of delays.”

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews noted the lab is a prime example of how technology can create new value in a vital sector of the economy.

“Taking up technologies, like digital twins and augmented reality, can improve productivity and strengthen our competitive advantage in a global value chain,” she said.

The lab can be scaled to suit the size of the object being scanned, and can be tailored to industries including health, agriculture and mining to automatically validate a component or process.

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