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Centre Director Prof Jonathan Roberts at QUT Centre for Justice’s Disability & Inclusion Symposium

Last week, Centre Director Prof Jonathan Roberts was part of the discusison panel at QUT Centre for Justice‘s Disability & Inclusion symposium.

The panel discussion, entitled ” Inclusion, Technologies and Work”, centred around the inclusive work the panel are doing and how they are bridging HASS and STEMM disciplines to co-create inclusion across diverse sectors.

Jon shared observations from the Australian Cobotics Centre‘s research which shows that the use of cobots in manufacturing will enable the current largely homogenous workforce to be more inclusive of everyone.

The symposium brought together QUT researchers (across the QUT Centre for Justice and QUT Centre for Robotics), and people and organisations, to support Australia’s Disability Strategy (2021- 2031), discussing the barriers and opportunities for supporting inclusion across diverse sectors.

The symposium also provided speakers to share perspectives on their participatory approaches, inclusive technologies, and research that they have co-designed with people with disability.

In addition to his work with the Cobotics Centre and QCR, Jon is also part of the supervisory team of Santiago Velasquez‘s honours project. In this project, Santiago, a guide dog user himself, is using spot from Boston Dynamics as a robotic platform to develop a robot to human guiding interface; similar to a guide dog harness used to communicate between a human and a guide dog, but for future robots.

You can read more about that project here:

Dr. Matthias Guertler Presents New Research on Expanding the Scope of Cobots at ICED23

Research Program co-lead, Dr Matthias Guertler, shared valuable insights at #ICED23 through his presentation on the topic “When is a robot a cobot? Moving beyond manufacturing and arm-based cobot manipulators.” The paper presented at the conference explores fresh perspectives on cobotics, moving away from traditional manufacturing applications and arm-based cobot manipulators.

For more details on the findings, you can access the full publication HERE.

Two joint CSIRO & Australian Cobotics Centre scholarships now available!

We are currently recruiting for two PhD Scholarships funded by CSIRO’s Data61‘s Collaborative Intelligence (CINTEL) Future Science Platform.

Both scholarships are based at QUT in Brisbane and students will also be part of the Australian Cobotics Centre. They will receive a scholarship of $36,161 per annum (indexed annually) with additional funding for travel and collaboration available.

*** Interactive (and Collaborative) Robot Programming using Language ***

The first scholarship is working with our Human Robot Interaction team, supervised by Jared DonovanDonovan and Markus Rittenbruch and working with researchers from the CSIRO’s Data61 team, Dr Cécile Paris, Dr Stephen Wan and Dr Pavan Sikka.

The Project, “Interactive (and Collaborative) Robot Programming using Language” focuses on collaborative and instructional dialogue agents to help human operators program robot tasks. The PhD candidate will research and develop methods to situate a collaborative dialogue agent, focusing on the core research question of how to tackle ambiguities in instruction-to-code translation within a grounded robotics scenario. The project will lead to the development of a system – tools, algorithms and data – that allows a human operator to interactively program a robot using language.

Find our more: Project 2.5: Interactive (and Collaborative) Robot Programming using Language

*** Collaborative robot adoption across industries ***

The second scholarship is based with our Designing Socio-Technical Robotic System program, supervised by A/Prof Glenda Caldwell & Dr Matthias Guertler and CSIRO’s Data61‘s Dr Andrew Reeson.

The Project, “Collaborative robot adoption across industries” will examine other industries across Australia to identify to what extent they have adopted cobots. The project would identify:

  • The drivers of adoption, along with barriers to it, and how any such barriers were overcome.
  • To what extent have these various industries adapted their processes to accommodate cobot technology, and what was required for them to do this?
  • What (re)-training was required for workers? How specific or generalisable are the required skills?

Find our more: Project 3.7:  Collaborative robot adoption across industries

If you are interested in these scholarships, submit an expression of interest here:

PhD Expressions of Interest



Evidence Given as part of the ‘Developing Australian Manufacturing’ Inquiry.

The Australian Cobotics Centre just gave evidence to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Resources as part of the ‘Developing Australian Manufacturing’ inquiry.

Centre Director Jonathan Roberts, Postdoctoral Research Fellow Melinda Laundon, Research Program co-Lead Jared Donovan and B&R Enclosures Managing Director Chris Bridges-Taylor answered the committee’s questions around cyber security, increasing the manufacturing workforce, training and skilling of staff and barriers to adoption of advanced manufacturing.

  • Collaborative robots need to work alongside people and that can be complex to establish. Changes to the workplace design, processes etc. may be required and often SME’s don’t have capacity to take on this level of complexity. This is where support is required and ARM Hub (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) is a great example of how this could work.
  • Engaging with young people early (from grades 7-9) to encourage a career in manufacturing is key. Manufacturing is not dull, dangerous or dirty anymore. It can be interesting, future focused and varied. STEM teachers, parents and schools need to be aware of the career possibilities and ensuring career pathways and programs are there.
  • When implementing new technologies, B&R Enclosures found they had the most engagement and interest from staff when they introduced technology that people used in everyday lives – e.g. iPad. The next thing they wanted was certification of their new skills that could be taken with them to another job.
  • We need to see the robot as a tool and not as a replacement for people. Research into the impact of robots on jobs is sparse but anecdotally the use of robotics in manufacturing has increased the human workforce due to the expansion of the business. We work with people who are highly skilled in their area, and they use their expertise to co-design a solution that supports them in their role instead of taking over their role.
  • The male dominated sector has implications for talent. It is vital there is investment in industry and research partnerships to specify the reasons why women aren’t choosing or being retained for manufacturing careers. There are effective and targeted strategies at the state and sector level (e.g. Weld Australia‘s Women in Welding program) but not a nationwide strategy. VET, Higher Education and Government need to collaborate with industry to encourage women into manufacturing careers.




‘Developing Advanced Manufacturing in Australia’ Committee visit to ARM Hub

Members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Resources visited ARM Hub on 24th July as part of their visit to Brisbane for the Department of Industry, Science, Innovation & Resources’ Developing Advanced Manufacturing in Australia inquiry public hearing.

The committee are visiting capital cities across the country as part of the inquiry conducting site visits as well as public hearings. During the visit, our team (including Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Melinda Laundon, Centre Director Professor Jonathan Roberts, Program co-Lead Associate Professor Jared Donovan and Lead Engineer Dr Dasun Gunasinghe) provided demonstrations of our projects with industry partners that highlight how important research and industry partnerships are for innovation.

The Committee (including:  Chair Rob Mitchell and Deputy Chair Hon Michelle LandryAlison Byrnes MPDan Repacholi MP, Henry Pike MP, Adam Mara,  Lynley Ducker, and Ben Russell) were also given a tour of ARM Hub by CEO Cori Stewart and Senior Engineer Troy Cordie. Cori talked about the role of ARM Hub in supporting manufacturers across all stages of the advanced manufacturing journey, from the first step all the way to large scale innovation projects, supporting the creation of new services and industries across the sector as they go.

Finally, Ann-Maree Willett from UAP | Urban Art Projects gave a short tour of UAP. Ann-Maree spoke about the many benefits of investing in advanced manufacturing including the onshoring of jobs. From one small project alone, they managed to onshore 800 hours of work that would have previously gone overseas! UAP are also keen to share their experiences and support other Australian manufacturers in developing advanced manufacturing.


Centre-wide mid-year meeting

On 18th July, we held our mid-year meeting. This year each university hosted an in-person event and we joined together via zoom.

It was fantastic to reflect on our achievements over the past 6months and look forward to what we want to get done by the end of the year.

So far, in 2023, our group has:

and much, much more.

For the QUT group, we combined the meeting with a tour of Stryker‘s R&D lab in Herston and finished off the afternoon with a game of mini golf!

Thank you all for coming along! We are now looking forward to the end of year symposium where we can all meet in person and share our progress!

Meet our E.P.I.C. Researcher, Munia Ahamed

The Australian Cobotics Centre has some incredibly E.P.I.C. researchers. Each month we will be profiling a different researcher.

Munia Ahamed is a PhD Researcher in the Quality Assurance and Compliance research program at the Australian Cobotics Centre. Her research will monitor and document outcomes of collaborative robot activity.

We interviewed Munia recently to find out more about why she does what she does.

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

As a data analyst for sustainability-related projects, I have always been driven by the desire to promote sustainable practices and make a positive impact on industries. My experience working with the United Nations Global Compact allowed me to witness the importance of aligning businesses with sustainable development goals. However, during my time in Malaysian manufacturing industries, I encountered several challenges that highlighted the need for a more comprehensive approach to sustainability, quality assurance, and worker well-being in the context of Industry 4.0. The manufacturing industry is rapidly evolving with the adoption of advanced technologies such as COBOTs and industrial robots. While these technologies offer immense potential for improving efficiency and productivity, they also bring about concerns related to job security, worker training, and sustainable production practices. It became clear to me that there was a lack of emphasis on these critical aspects within the industry.

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

Joining the Australian Cobotics Centre was a natural choice for me. The center’s focus on Cobotics and industrial robots provided an ideal platform to address these challenges head-on. Through my project I will develop theoretical guidelines specifically tailored for manufacturing industries that have adopted COBOTs, we can bridge the gap between academic research and industry practices. These guidelines will encompass various dimensions of manufacturing, including leadership, management, workplace conditions, and product quality. By offering a holistic framework, we can ensure that manufacturing industries not only adopt COBOTs effectively but also prioritize sustainability, quality assurance, and worker well-being. The ultimate goal for my project is to achieve zero-defect manufacturing by minimizing waste and optimizing production processes. Moreover, by evaluating the return on investment (ROI) for stakeholders, our guidelines will help companies make informed decisions about adopting COBOTs and industrial robots. This analysis will provide valuable insights into the financial benefits and long-term viability of such technologies, fostering greater confidence in their adoption. However, it’s not enough to develop theoretical guidelines alone.

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

As for the project I would be most proud of throughout my career, it would likely be the development of the theoretical guidelines for manufacturing industries adopting COBOTs. This project holds significant importance as it addresses real-world challenges faced by the manufacturing industry. By bridging the academic gap and offering practical solutions, these guidelines have the potential to positively impact the industry, improving the quality of products, optimizing production processes, and empowering workers.

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

The long-term impact of our work lies in the practical implementation and testing of these guidelines in real industry workflows. By collaborating with manufacturing companies and integrating the guidelines into their operations, we can assess their effectiveness, identify areas for improvement, and continuously refine the framework. This iterative process will ensure that the guidelines remain relevant, adaptable, and aligned with industry needs.

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

In terms of a topic for an hour-long presentation, with my background in sustainability-related projects and experience as a data analyst in diversified manufacturing industries, I could give a presentation on “Sustainable Manufacturing in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4): Strategies for Quality Assurance and ROI.” This presentation could delve into the challenges faced by the manufacturing industry in adopting sustainable production practices while leveraging advanced technologies. I could explore the importance of quality assurance in the context of sustainability, discuss the potential benefits and barriers of IR4 technologies, and present practical strategies and guidelines to achieve sustainability goals while ensuring a positive ROI for stakeholders.

Great interview with our Chief Investigator, Dr Sean Gallagher!

Dr Sean Gallagher is the director of Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre for the New Workforce, Chief Investigator at the Australian Cobotics Centre, has a PhD in Chemistry, and is a member of the Future of Work advisory panel.

In the latest episode of Best Behaviour, Interchange’s Gabrielle Harris and Nick Brandon-Jones sat down with Sean to talk about the possible impact of AI on the workforce, Hybrid working, and the need to be nimble and experimental as we forge a new way of working into the future.

Listen to it wherever you get your podcasts:

Encounters with Cobots at Swinburne University of Technology

Fantastic event at Swinburne University of Technology last night!

There were over 35 people in attendance at Swinburne’s Intelligent Robotics Lab for our ‘Cobotic Encounters’ event. This event was a great opportunity for businesses based in Melbourne to find out more about the Centre and how cobots could be used to augment existing capability.

Swinburne lead, Associate Professor Mats Isaksson and Postdoc Dr Anushani Bibile organised the event which included demonstrations from student research projects, excellent networking opportunities as well as talks from Centre Director, Jonathan Roberts and Lead Engineer, Dasun Gunasinghe.

Thanks to everyone who came along and the wonderful team at Swinburne for hosting the event. Special thanks to the Swinburne student researchers who presented their projects:

* Australian Cobotics Centre PhD student: Jagannatha Charjee Pyaraka – Cobot Deep Learning using Biomimicry and Digital Twins
* PhD student: Edgar Mauricio Hidalgo Florez – Evaluation of Haptically Enabled Remote Robot-Assisted Echocardiographic Examinations
* PhD student: Mariadas Capsran Roshan – Automated Ultrasound Imaging of the Back Muscle Through Sensor Fusion
* PhD student: Kartik Choudhary – Non-Invasive Diagnosis of Cutaneous Melanoma using a Collaborative Robot with Multiple Modalities for Enhanced Data Collection
* MSc student: Rene Santander – Development, Optimization, and Quantitative Evaluation of a Robotic Platform for 3D Printing of Biofouling Resistant Polymers