Adam Amos

Adam Amos

Founder & Director
Oliver Bamford

Oliver Bamford

General Manager
Mark Maxwell

Mark Maxwell

Design Department Manager
Scott Thompson

Scott Thompson

Manufacturing Department Manager
Bradd Perkins

Bradd Perkins

Head of Sales & Marketing
James Alford

James Alford

Electronics Discipline Lead
Dr Abdel Darwish

Dr Abdel Darwish

AI Software Discipline Lead

The Robotic Systems Origin Story
By Adam Amos

2008 - The beginning

In 2008, whilst completing a Mechatronics degree at the University of Wollongong, I discovered the world of competitive engineering. I found the Outback UAV Challenge, run by the CSIRO and Queensland University of Technology.

The competition required entrants to complete the following:

  • build a drone
  • take off from an airport in Kingaroy, QLD
  • fly five kilometres into the bush and search the ground for a lost bushwalker
  • once the drone found the lost bushwalker, drop a bottle of water to them
  • The closest water bottle to the target received the AU$50,000 prize.

I was fixated by this competition and decided to devote myself to participating in it. I realised quickly that I needed to become a software specialist, so I selected LabVIEW as the language that I would specialise in for the sole purpose of entering in the competition.

I competed over a number of years, but I never won the Outback UAV Challenge. I did however achieve a deep understanding of LabVIEW, and had successfully developed my own autopilot.

Robotic Systems 2012
Robotic Systems 2012

2012: The creation of Robotic Systems

My specialisation in LabVIEW led me to my first job out of university in 2010 with Sydney-based small business, CPE Systems. CPE created test, measurement and data acquisition solutions using primarily LabVIEW and National Instruments hardware. I worked on a number of small projects creating bespoke test systems.

I was with CPE until 2012, when they unfortunately went out of business. When the company shut down, I rang around to all of the customers I was working with and informed them that I had lost my job and they would need to come and collect their hardware.

To my surprise, all of my customers insisted I keep delivering their projects.

I was 25 at the time and still living at home. I cleared a space in my parents' garage, pushing my drone stuff to one side, and Robotic Systems was born.

Over the next 12 months I was able to complete all of the projects I had, to the value of around $30k. It was manageable as I was living and working out of my parents' place with no overheads.

2013: A big break - relocating to Newcastle

In 2013 I got my first big break into the mining industry. Orica, who sells explosives into the mining industry wanted to develop a new type of control system for their explosives vehicles that would semi-automate the machine and create a suite of new digital products.

Orica had selected LabVIEW and National Instruments hardware to be used as the basis of their project. Despite being 26 I was contracted to be one of the main developers charged with bringing this new technology to market and the contract gave me the opportunity to onboard my first team member. Fast forward to today, Orica and the LOADPlus control system has become the global standard for Orica's explosives delivery. It has been installed in hundreds of units and Robotic Systems only closed out this contract in mid 2023.

Robotic Systems 2013
Robotic Systems 2013

2014 - 2019: A meandering path for Robotic Systems

Between 2014 and 2019 I became a bit lost as to what Robotic Systems actually does. Things were growing at a steady pace, and we had started developing our own products. We had mobile 3D laser scanners, drone aircraft, electronics parts, etc.

All of these products achieved their technical goals but we were unable to sell any of them. This translated to very long working hours and low salaries for the three team members and myself at the time.

After many years of long hours with little to no commercial success, it was all brought to a head in 2019 when we were accepted into CSIRO's technology program, On Prime. The program seeks to connect new products with the market through conversations with real potential customers. Our small team was challenged with making 100 customer discovery calls, which we did.

However, I got to about call number 40 and realised I actually had no idea what I was doing. I discovered that we had built a product that solved nobody's problem, and that there were already better, faster and cheaper solutions.

It felt like our efforts had amounted to nothing. It was not a nice feeling - like realising that no one is coming to your birthday party.

2019: Choosing to go on

2019 was a crossroads for both my career and Robotic Systems. It had been confirmed that all my hopes and dreams for product success were not going to come true. I was facing a big choice - do I keep Robotic Systems going, or disband the business and free the other three team members from the prison which I had created.

I decided I would keep going, but I knew to make that happen there needed to be some changes. I went and sat on top of a mountain and took some acid (metaphorical) and thought deeply about our successes and failures.

It became clear that for the past several years, success only came for us when somebody else brought the WHAT and we just brought the HOW. When we tried to do both the WHAT and the HOW it resulted in a technically excellent outcome that absolutely nobody wanted to buy.

I realised that doing the technical work is only a small part of what makes a successful product. In order to be successful a deep understanding of a niche within an industry and a specialised business that could connect a product to industry.

Whilst we had the technical work capability we were never going to be able to develop a deep understanding of a niche within an industry without committing Robotic Systems to it full time. We stopped developing all of our own products in 2019.

Robotic Systems 2013
Robotic Systems 2020

2020 onwards: Robotic Systems is reborn

The mission of Robotic Systems was always to develop the world's best hardware technology. It was never to get into commercialising one particular product but rather to have a hand in developing many different ones.

In 2020 we restructured Robotic Systems into what it does today: we are a Design Agency and what we do is accelerate the design and manufacture of other business tech hardware products.

Since getting clear what we do Robotic Systems has scaled up operations and now exports products to over 9 countries and has been recognised by deloitte as being the 77th fastest growing hardware business in APAC.

Checkout our portfolio, customer testimonials and if you would like to join the team on a mission to develop the world's best hardware checkout our careers page.

Connect with me on LinkedIn!