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ARTICLE: Guidelines for Safe Collaborative Robot Design and Implementation

Congratulations to Dr Matthias Guertler and team (including Dr. Nathalie SickGavin PaulMarc CarmichaelManisha AminRebecca GraceSazzad HussainLaura TomideiAnnika WambsganssVictor Hernandez Moreno, and Leila Frijat) on their Cobots Work Health & Safety project completed in partnership with the NSW Centre for Work Health and Safety and funded through the NSW Workers Compensation Operational Fund.

The team have developed guidelines, methods and principles to design safe cobots and cobot workplaces. These are fantastic resources for organisation who are planning on implementing collaborative robots (“cobots”) or are curious of how to work safely with cobots in general?

The project team have created a website full of useful resources that include:
– An introduction to, and general safety information, aspects of human-cobot collaboration.
– Guidance documents to assist in the planning of an upcoming or amended workplace.
– Checklists and assessments to assess an existing or future workplace’s safety features

Read more HERE



ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction March 13-16, 2023 Stockholm, SE

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Stine Johansen was at the IEEE Human Robot Interaction Conference this week where she presented her paper, Illustrating Robot Motions.

Stine created a video presentation of the paper which gives an overview of the survey and examples of findings relating to how robot movements are illustrated in the ACM/IEEE Conference on Human-Robot Interaction proceedings from 2016 to 2022.

Download the paper and Stine’s video here: Illustrating Robot Movements | Proceedings of the 2023 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction

We congratulate Stine, Jared and Markus on their paper acceptance especially given the conference’s average acceptance rate of 24% (last 5 years 24%).

Dr Stine Johansen
Associate Professor Jared Donovan
Associate Professor Markus Rittenbruch

ARTICLE: Try-a-Trade, Gladstone

By Melinda Laundon, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, and Jacqueline Greentree, PhD Researcher, Human-Robot Workforce Program, Australian Cobotics Centre

Almost 200 Grade 9 and 10 girls from Gladstone and surrounds gathered at CQUniversity for Try-a-Trade on 15th March. This event brought together manufacturing, aerospace, energy, mining, engineering and construction industry businesses and stakeholders from government and education to encourage female high school students to learn about a range of careers in STEM and try out some practical activities that they might encounter in STEM jobs.

The event was organised by the Gladstone Engineering Alliance in partnership with the National Association of Women in Construction and the Queensland Government‘s Department of Employment, Small Business and Training and Gladstone Manufacturing Hub.

It is important to engage high school students early to consider careers in manufacturing. The lower numbers of women in manufacturing make it particularly important to provide female students with opportunities to consider and experience diverse manufacturing career options. In Queensland, 29% of the current manufacturing workforce are women. While the proportion of women employed in manufacturing has grown dramatically over the past decade, most are in clerical or administrative roles. Only 11% of women in manufacturing are technicians and trade workers[1].

Australian Cobotics Centre industry partner Weld Australia hosted a stall at Try-a-Trade with two Soldamatic welding simulators. This popular activity allows people to experience welding in a safe environment. It also provided a fun competition between girls to compare their welding accuracy. Weld Australia’s Regional Training Coordinator, Adam Coorey said:

“To address the skills shortage, we need to give a greater range of access to the full available workforce. By utilising augmented reality technology, students who would normally shy away from the heat and sparks of a welding bay can try welding in a safe environment.  This accessible technology gives students the opportunity to experience a career that they may thrive in”.

At the Cobotics Centre stall, we discussed the impact of cobots and other advanced technology on future work. We also asked students to think about the skills and attributes that would be required in the future to work with a cobot as a team member. They came up with many creative insights, including:

  • Problem solving skills
  • Patience
  • Understanding human interactions
  • Coding
  • Good communication
  • Independence
  • Curiosity
  • Designing
  • Digital technology education
  • To be able to build
  • Understanding of mechanics

[1] Queensland Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water (2023) Women in Manufacturing Strategy.

New PhD researchers visit Infrabuild

Great to see our new PhD researchers, Munia Ahamed and Fikre Hagos out at InfraBuild Sydney with Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Fouad (Fred) Sukkar yesterday.

All of our postdocs and PhD researchers complete a minimum placement of 12 months over their time with us. Generally, this is completed across a number of partners and other organisations to provide our researchers with the industry case studies for their research to apply their research to real world problems, as well as giving them exposure to working in industry.



Meet our E.P.I.C. Researcher, Dr Melinda Laundon

The Australian Cobotics Centre has some incredibly E.P.I.C. researchers. Each month we will be profiling a different researcher. Dr Melinda Laundon is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with our Human Robot Workforce program and is based at QUT.

We sat down with Melinda recently to find out more about why she does what she does.

  • Tell us a bit about yourself and your research with the Centre?

I’m part of the Human-Robot Workforce research program. We have a broad scope to research the changing skills, capabilities, and composition of the Australian manufacturing workforce, including the influence of cobots on jobs, workers and organisations. My research is investigating attraction and retention of manufacturing workers, from the perspective of sector stakeholders, managers and the workers themselves. I hope it will help to understand how advanced technologies can change the way we attract people to careers in manufacturing, and help to address some of the crucial skills shortage issues in Australian manufacturing.

  • Why did you decide to be a part of the Australian Cobotics Centre?

I jumped at the chance to work with great researchers from many different disciplines, as well as the opportunity to engage with industry partners on issues that are immediately important and relevant. I could also see strong parallels between the Cobotics Centre’s commitment to sustainable growth and quality jobs in manufacturing, and QUT’s Centre for Decent Work & Industry, where I co-lead a research stream on sustainable transitions between education and work.

  • What project are you most proud of throughout your career and why?

I’m proud of my work with the Australian Research Council and universities to help academics and PhD students to plan for and achieve an impact on society from their research.  I’m also proud of my roles as a mentor and assessor for Higher Education Academy (HEA) Fellowship schemes at QUT and other universities. HEA Fellowship emphasises the value of reflection, professional development to improve student learning, and sharing good practice with colleagues – all of which apply to research as well as university teaching.

  • What do you hope the long-term impact of your work will be?

I came to academia after a policy career in the Australian Public Service, including stints with the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Australian Research Council. My PhD in management examined employees’ fairness perceptions at work, especially in relation to reward and recognition. I started my academic career with the intention of not only doing good scholarly research but also having a practical impact on organisations and public policy. I hope that my research helps to inform policy and practice by contributing deeper understandings of workers’ perceptions and needs.

  • Aside from your research, what topic could you give an hour-long presentation on with little to no preparation?

This is a tough one! I might have to break it up into a few smaller lectures on different topics including Scottish and Australian crime fiction, Australian slow fashion labels, and music played on Triple J in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.


QUT’s Vacation Research Experience Scheme (VRES)

The Centre has been lucky enough to have two undergraduate students from QUT, Sabrin Daniel and Melanie Lay, working on projects with us over the last couple of months as part of QUT’s Vacation Research Experience Scheme (VRES).

VRES allows students the opportunity to participate in a research project for approximately 6-10 weeks. This opportunity is particularly valuable if they’re interested in pursuing a research degree! 

We sat down with Sabrin and asked her a little more about her experience:


Why did you decide to participate in QUT’s VRES?

Throughout my degree, I’ve had a particular interest in Social and Organisational Psychology. As a result, I thought this was the best way to gain insight into organisational issues such as teamwork and productivity, as well as gaining experience in conducting a literature review. Moreover, it is clear that post COVID-19, advancements in technology is changing the way businesses meet client and consumer expectations, therefore I was curious to understand how this would impact me as a HR professional. Specifically, how HR will need to adapt its policies and processes to support companies in this transition.

What did you learn that you think will be most useful in your future work or studies? 

The process in identifying patterns within the literature and being able to make appropriate conclusions about their impact to the topic at hand was a great skill that I learnt. I believe that this will help me in my future studies. As well, this is a skill that helps to identify what exists in the literature and what the gaps are to be able to implement appropriate policies and HR practices. Specifically in my research, a common consensus is that human-robot collaboration (HRC) requires commitment, capability and fulfilment and issues such as communication, trust and interdependency can hinder HRC. As a result, reading the literature allowed me to understand how HR professionals can address these issues which will be useful for me in the future.

What did you enjoy most about your project? 

I thoroughly enjoyed attending the Australian Cobotics Centre (ACC) launch, as I was able to hear industry partners speak about how cobots present opportunities for their industries, along with the anticipated challenges. Additionally, I was fortunate enough to be able to do a site visit at Urban Arts Precinct (UAP) with my mentors, Melinda Laundon and Greg Hearn. Both of these events helped in providing context for me to understand my research. Finally, I was fortunate enough to have mentors that provided me with resources to understand an efficient and systematic approach to conducting a literature. I believe their feedback and guidance throughout the process made this VRES project thoroughly enjoyable.

What would be the next steps in your project if it was to continue? 

The next step in the process is to identify and focus research questions based on the findings of my research.

Meet the VRES Students

Sabrin Daniel worked with the Human-Robot Workforce research program.

Her research focuses on Work crews and cobots: the future of work. Specifically, a literature review on, trends in cobotic adoption, how team dynamics will be impacted and the possible advantages and challenges to cobotic adoption trends in.

She is currently an undergraduate at QUT studying a dual degree; a Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology) and a Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management Major).

Melanie Lay worked with the Designing Socio-Technical Robotic Systems Program.

Her research aims to create digital twins to support human-robot collaboration. The outcome of this will include modelled 3D assets which can be used to digitally simulate a real-world manufacturing environment.

She is currently an undergraduate student at QUT, studying a double degree of Bachelor of Design (Architecture)/Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics).


Changes to QUT’s Chief Investigators

We’d like to officially welcome our newly appointed Chief Investigator, Müge Belek Fialho Teixeira to our Centre. Muge will be replacing Anjali who was the driving force behind the creation of our Manufacturing Floor of the Future video.

Müge is a creative maker, designer and transdisciplinary researcher, specializing in advanced manufacturing, digital fabrication, and parametric design.

She has worked with prominent architectural firms such as Zaha Hadid Architects, taught at several institutions including QUT (Queensland University of Technology)The University of Queensland, Istanbul Technical University, and Architectural Association (AA) Visiting Schools. She also has multiple publications in peer reviewed books and journals interviews, presented in many international conferences such as CAADRIA (Computer Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia).

Currently, Müge is a Design Lead at ARM Hub (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) and a Senior Lecturer in the QUT Faculty of Engineering (FoE), School of Architecture and Built Environment (ABE) Interior Architecture. She was a Chief Investigator and a post-doctoral researcher at QUT in Design Robotics Project funded by IMCRC (Innovative Manufacturing Corporate Research Centre), that partnered with RMIT and UAP. She holds a BSc. in Architecture, a MSc. on “Collaborative Design Studio Environments” from Istanbul Technical University (ITU), and a MArch from Architectural Association School of Architecture Design Research Laboratory (AADRL). She holds a PhD focused on Trans-Architectural Design Paradigm, during which she studied for two years with Marcos Novak in University of California Santa Barbara, Translab. She is also the cofounder of [f]FLAT, an environment to research and develop design and media art works.

Her main research interests are in the areas of Transdisciplinary Design Research, Phenomenology of Perception, Multimodal Spaces and Pancomputational Design Strategies. She is interested in creating an understanding of our world out of our natural attitude through sensory experiences of space that are created using computational and digital strategies. She constantly looks for ways to expand the body of knowledge through transdisciplinary studies/thinking in design through making. Her understanding on the “world of making” is based on constant experimentation and pushing the boundaries of current discourses through rigorous applied research.

ARTICLE: Human-Robot Collaboration Challenges and Opportunities in Australia

At the 2022 annual Australian conference for the Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group, OzCHI, 20 researchers from leading Australian robotics research environments met up for the workshop “Empowering People in Human-Robot Collaboration”. This workshop was co-organised by members from the Australian Cobotics Centre and the Collaborative Intelligence Future Science Platform (CSIRO). In this short overview, we offer insights from the workshop that show challenges and opportunities for building this research in Australia.

An Australian Perspective on Human-Robot Collaboration

Discussions that considered “The Tyranny of Distance”, the classic account of how Australia’s geographical remoteness has been central to shaping the people’s values and available resources, identified the lack of robotics manufacturing facilities as one major challenge. While this limits the opportunity to conduct fundamental research that contributes to the hardware design of robots, this workshop discussed how this limitation enables Australian HRC researchers to focus more on application-specific and ‘in the wild’ research. Discussions around the cultural mindset that tends to lack trust in automation highlighted that this mindset can be used in answering critical research questions such as what work should and should not be automated. Workshop participants also called attention to one of the most fundamental problems that is not only relevant to Australian context or HRC research. Currently in research gatherings, we focus on sharing success stories. We need to start facilitating “failure tracks” to share the lessons learnt from failures if we want to truly expedite the advancement of HRC research.

Beyond the Australian perspective, the researchers offered several directions for future work in human-robot collaboration:

Human role in HRC: Participants discussed the terms we use for people in human-robot collaboration. Suggestions included collaborator, partner, and helper. Similarly, the role of the robot in relation to the person was discussed, e.g., robot as leader, follower, co-artist, etc. Examples of appropriate and creative ways of partnering included mimicking and training.

Improving awareness: An emerging research interest in enhancing robots’ and human collaborators’ awareness of each others’ states and actions was observed. Specifically, some participants were interested in studying how to model human internal states (e.g., cognitive workload) and individual differences using multimodal analytics, so robots can use related outcomes to adapt to human needs and augment humans. Another area of interest was to implement intelligent user interfaces to assist humans in predicting states and actions of robots and understanding reasons behind robots’ decisions.

Empathy for robots: While the focus of human-robot collaborative applications has mostly been on fulfilling human needs and achieving human goals, participants also highlighted that putting people in the ‘shoes’ of robots is also important. Topics discussed in this space included interface requirements of robots (considering robot-human as well as robot-robot interactions) and the need to prevent human abuse of robots.

Ethical considerations: Discussion covered the ethical considerations associated with the purpose, design and intended users of cobots, and the ways these may interact. Certain purposes, such as intimate engagements or persuasion, have ethical implications yet to be fully explored or resolved. Given the purpose of many collaborative robots is social, there are special considerations that need to be made when identifying and responding to the needs of vulnerable populations, such as children, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Design matters with broad relevance to ethical robotics include safety, appropriate trust, and transparency. Participants suggested special consideration should be given to the potential consequences of anthropomorphism of robots, including mistreatment of robots, attribution of moral agency, and uncanny valley backlash.

HRC design aims: There is a need for designers to consider how the design of the robot complements people. One example is the opportunity for robots to extend abilities of, or provide access for, people with disabilities. Related to this, participants noted the barriers of robots complementing people, including building and negotiating trust, making explainable robots, and designing collaboration in iterative steps.

HRC design approaches: Several discussions revolved around materials and prototyping approaches for design of collaborative robots. This was supported by questions around how to involve end users in prototyping processes and what kinds of wizard of oz methods could be appropriate. Another discussion around design approaches was centered on robot creativity and how to support human-robot interaction for creative purposes.

Evaluating HRC: A challenge for the research field is how to evaluate human-robot collaboration outcomes. Participants noted that this was mainly due to the dynamic nature of the collaboration. An example is trust which changes over the duration of the collaboration.


We thank all the participants for their valuable perspective, and CINTEL for a great workshop collaboration. Let’s continue to build this research community in Australia.

ARTICLE: Cutting-edge careers

Research Program Lead Dr Penny Williams featured in The Australian today in an article entitled, “The rise of AI is shaking up the world of work”, part of the Women in Education, Cutting Edge Careers special edition.

Penny talked about her research with the Australian Cobotics Centre and the opportunities available for women working with AI and robots in the future. “Women should consider courses that, in addition to giving them a trade or professional qualification, will help them develop digital skills, including basic coding. (They’ll also require) entrepreneurial thinking, strong communication and problem-solving skills, and the ability to collaborate with both humans and machines.”

Read the full article:

The Australian “The rise of AI is shaking up the world of work”, Dr Penny Williams

Research Program Lead Dr Penny Williams featured in The Australian today in an article entitled, “The rise of AI is shaking up the world of work”, part of the Women in Education, Cutting Edge Careers special edition.

Penny talked about her research with the Australian Cobotics Centre and the opportunities available for women working with AI and robots in the future. “Women should consider courses that, in addition to giving them a trade or professional qualification, will help them develop digital skills, including basic coding. (They’ll also require) entrepreneurial thinking, strong communication and problem-solving skills, and the ability to collaborate with both humans and machines.”

Read the full article: