By Matthew Pearce
Demonstrating the latest in 5G technology, Telstra’s ‘Rocky the whip cracking robot’ cut the ribbon to officially open the Tech Yards at Beef Australia on Monday, 3 May.
Speaking at the Telstra Smart Store, Telstra CEO Andy Penn said it was fantastic to be in Rocky for Beef Australia.
“Telstra is the principal sponsor for Beef Week and part of the reason why is that agriculture has seen such progression in the use of technology,” he said.
“It’s a big part of our business and we’re always looking at how we can support farms and farmers in technology.”
Mr Penn said 5G was the first mobile and telecommunications network that had been designed to connect things that weren’t mobile phones.
“It’s all a bit of fun but Rocky the whip-cracking robot shows just how far mobile telecommunications technology has come, particularly with 5G, which has infinitely more capacity than earlier versions of the technology,” he said.
“Created in partnership with Queensland company Freelance Robotics, Rocky demonstrates how you can bring together a lot of components of technology – sensors, 5G, robotics and computing.
“The robotic arm itself is from Germany and used in New Zealand in butchering, so you can see its got agricultural applications.”
Paul Milford, who heads up Telstra’s 5G innovation labs, said Rocky ‘stitched a lot of different technologies together in a fun environment’.
“Rocky can do it (whip-cracking) at 100% all the time and that automation can do a lot more things for industry and businesses,” he said.
Mr Penn also announced a $200 million co-investment fund to generate additional investment in improving regional mobile coverage.
“This is in addition to the $150 million we will invest in the next 12 months to improve regional connectivity,” he said.
“At Telstra we know how important that connectivity is. Australia is a very large, sparsely populated country with a challenging topology to roll out telecommunications networks, but by creating co-investment opportunities we can actually extend mobile coverage and other types of technology to places we haven’t been able to previously.
“We’re also continuing to roll out towers in conjunction with the mobile black spot program, however, as people use the network more it’s a pretty insatiable demand, so we’re working to keep up with that.”
In good news for Australian jobs, Mr Penn said plans were underway to bring all of Telstra’s call centres back on shore.
“By this time next year, all calls from our Australian customers will be answered in Australia,” he said.
“As times have moved on with more customers using digital ways of engaging ultimately the number of calls into our call centres is reducing, but also the types of calls are changing.
“Customers are asking more about technology solutions and how we can solve those issues.”