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Goodbye & Thank You

Farewell to Our THWS Visiting Researchers!

It’s time to say goodbye to our three visiting researchers from the Technical University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt (THWS) who have been a part of our team at the Australian Cobotics Centre (ACC).

We extend our sincere thanks to Tobias Kaupp, Adrian Muller, and Usama Ali for their outstanding contributions during their time with us. Wishing you all the best in your future endeavors!

Thanks for being a part of the team.

PhD Project Introductions

Collaboration and sharing of information are vital for the success of our Centre. To support this, we ask our PhD Researchers to give a brief introduction to their projects within the initial 6 months.

During our latest seminar, Eleonora Zodo and Justin Botha from QUT (Queensland University of Technology) and Danial Rizvi from University of Technology Sydney provided an outline of their projects’ objectives, methodology, and anticipated outcomes.

As they continue their research, we’ll keep you posted on their progress. Meanwhile, you can learn more about their research updates HERE.


ARTICLE: Human-Robot Collaboration in Healthcare: Challenges and Prospects

This article is written by Amir Asadi, PhD researcher at the Australian National University (ANU) and a visiting researcher at Australian Cobotics Centre. It draws upon the introduction section of a paper he co-authored with Associate Professor Elizabeth Williams from the Australian National University, Associate Professor Glenda Caldwell from the Queensland University of Technology, and Associate Professor Damith Herath from the University of Canberra.

Today’s global healthcare system faces a pressing challenge: ensuring equitable access to healthcare amidst a severe workforce shortage. The World Health Organization predicts a shortfall of 10 million healthcare workers by 2030 [1], a situation worsened by an ageing population, increasing demand for medical services, and the COVID-19 pandemic. This shortage leads to a heavy workload for existing healthcare professionals, which research indicates can severely affect patient care quality [2].

In response to the challenges caused by the shortage of healthcare professionals, technological innovations offer a viable approach to reduce the workload on healthcare workers, which could ultimately improve patient care and health service quality. Among many cutting-edge technologies suggested for healthcare, robotics has emerged as a particularly promising area. Robots can assist in a variety of tasks, ranging from surgical procedures to patient care and physical rehabilitation. This leads us to the Human-Robot Collaboration (HRC) concept, where humans and robots work together, leveraging each other’s strengths to achieve shared goals [3]. HRC focuses on augmenting human efforts with robotic assistance in a safe, flexible, and user-friendly manner, thereby enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of tasks, operations, and workflows [4].

In healthcare, HRC aims to create a symbiotic relationship between healthcare professionals and robots to improve patient care. This approach spans a wide array of applications, including physical rehabilitation, support for the elderly and disabled, surgical assistance, and responses to COVID-19, such as patient handling and disinfection tasks. The breadth of HRC research reflects a commitment to addressing the healthcare system’s immediate and long-term needs.

Despite the clear advantages highlighted by research into HRC in healthcare, its integration has been gradual, reflecting the healthcare sector’s traditionally cautious approach towards new technologies [5]. This slow pace of adoption is multifaceted. The initial aspect encompasses general challenges associated with introducing new technologies into healthcare, such as infrastructure limitations, resistance from healthcare professionals, complex market dynamics, and regulatory barriers [6]. Following this, concerns particular to robots in healthcare, including safety issues, questions of effectiveness, public acceptance, and fears that robots may replace human caregivers, further slow the adoption process within healthcare environments [7]. The next dimension involves the distinct challenges of fostering a collaborative relationship between robots and human users. These challenges include developing intuitive interfaces for seamless human-robot collaboration, ensuring the reliability of robots in diverse healthcare scenarios, and addressing ethical considerations around autonomy and collaborative decision-making in patient care.

Together, these facets of challenges underscore the complexity of integrating HRC in healthcare settings and, therefore, necessitate a comprehensive approach that extends beyond mere technological considerations. This approach must encompass aspects such as regulatory compliance, ethical standards, stakeholder engagement, and infrastructural adaptation. To move forward and advance research in this field, it is crucial to adopt a holistic socio-technical perspective that acknowledges the complex interconnectedness between people, technology, environments, and workflows.

Furthermore, fostering a dialogue among multiple disciplines is imperative for the successful adoption of HRC in healthcare. The diversity of challenges that HRC is facing makes it crucial to bridge fields such as robotics, Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), human factors, medicine, nursing, social sciences, psychology, and ethics. By integrating insights from these diverse fields, the aim is to design and implement robotic technologies in a manner that not only addresses practical challenges but also enriches the efficiency and quality of healthcare services.

To conclude, we can safely say that while the journey to fully realise HRC’s potential in healthcare faces numerous obstacles, its effective adoption could transform healthcare delivery significantly, a process that requires both a socio-technical approach and a broad multidisciplinary dialogue.


[1]           World Health Organization (WHO), ‘Health workforce’. Accessed: Jan. 19, 2024. [Online]. Available:

[2]           D. J. Elliott, R. S. Young, J. Brice, R. Aguiar, and P. Kolm, ‘Effect of Hospitalist Workload on the Quality and Efficiency of Care’, JAMA Internal Medicine, vol. 174, no. 5, pp. 786–793, May 2014, doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.300.

[3]           J. Arents, V. Abolins, J. Judvaitis, O. Vismanis, A. Oraby, and K. Ozols, ‘Human–Robot Collaboration Trends and Safety Aspects: A Systematic Review’, Journal of Sensor and Actuator Networks, vol. 10, no. 3, Art. no. 3, Sep. 2021, doi: 10.3390/jsan10030048.

[4]           L. Lu, Z. Xie, H. Wang, L. Li, E. P. Fitts, and X. Xu, ‘Measurements of Mental Stress and Safety Awareness during Human Robot Collaboration -Review’, Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, vol. 66, no. 1, pp. 2273–2277, Sep. 2022, doi: 10.1177/1071181322661549.

[5]           K. Nakagawa and P. Yellowlees, ‘Inter-generational Effects of Technology: Why Millennial Physicians May Be Less at Risk for Burnout Than Baby Boomers’, Curr Psychiatry Rep, vol. 22, no. 9, p. 45, Jul. 2020, doi: 10.1007/s11920-020-01171-2.

[6]           A. B. Phillips and J. A. Merrill, ‘Innovative use of the integrative review to evaluate evidence of technology transformation in healthcare’, Journal of Biomedical Informatics, vol. 58, pp. 114–121, Dec. 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.jbi.2015.09.014.

[7]           I. Olaronke, O. Ojerinde, and R. Ikono, ‘State Of The Art: A Study of Human-Robot Interaction in Healthcare’, International Journal of Information Engineering and Electronic Business, vol. 3, pp. 43–55, May 2017, doi: 10.5815/ijieeb.2017.03.06.

Meet our E.P.I.C. Researcher, Jacqueline Greentree

Jacqueline Greentree is a PhD researcher based at Queensland University of Technology and her project is part of the Human-Robot Workforce Program at the Australian Cobotics Centre.
Her current research interests include education, government policy and the intersection in preparing people for the workplaces of the future.

We interviewed Jacqueline 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 have worked in education in some form across my career starting in Government and Vocational Education and Training (VET), moving to school education and VET in Schools and most recently working in Higher Education in a range of professional positions. My research seeks to understand how well VET education prepares those seeking work in advanced manufacturing considering the technological disruptions created through the adoption of new technologies (Industry 4.0). It also seeks to discover potential improvements in policy settings to bridge the skills gap in technical and digital domains for manufacturing to ensure a responsive training system to meet future skills needs.

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

It was a great opportunity to be part of some research that spans different disciplines but working together to achieve some new and different things. It was also an opportunity to learn more about how we will be working in the future as technology is rapidly changing work and workplaces. It was also an opportunity to dedicate myself fully to something new and different.

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

Completing my Masters of Philosophy, it was a long road to get there and had to balance a research project while doing a demanding full time job. I am enjoying being part of the centre and not having to work full-time in a different field while trying to complete the research.

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

I hope it continues the conversation about the way we educate people and whether the ways we have been doing that are still fit for our current world of learning and work. I would like for it open up new possibilities for considering how we move through education systems in Australia and possibly have different ways of gaining skills that are recognised by industry.

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

I find it difficult to talk for an hour on anything. If it was not my research then benefits of outdoor education/adventure challenges for kids to build resilience, perseverance and to be open to taking some appropriate risks.

Project Wrap-up: Shorts project Phase 2

Our research team from UTS and QUT has wrapped up phase 2 of the “Shorts” project with Infrabuild which involved demonstrating steel bar removal using a lightweight collaborative robot. This was an important milestone in proving that a smaller and safer robot could carry out similar work to the current operators.



















In addition, sensors placed along the bar production line in the Sydney Bar Mill have been capturing footage of short bars over several months. This comprehensive dataset of various bar types is being used to develop algorithms for automatic detection of defective short bars.












Members from Centre’s Biomimic Cobots program 1 visited Infrabuild’s Sydney Bar Mill in October last year to discuss findings from the study and to plan the next steps of the project.














The next phase of the project will see integration of the short bar detection and bar removal systems. Furthermore, key upgrades to the sensor system are underway in order to improve the detection of short bars and cover a wider range of scenarios that were learnt from the previous phase.

Another focus will be the human aspect. Understanding how a collaborative robot can integrate into existing workflows and how to best meet expectations. This will be an exciting opportunity to gain insights from workers and also for cross collaboration with other programs in the Centre.