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Meet our E.P.I.C. Researcher, Jasper Vermeulen

Jasper Vermeulen is a PhD researcher based at Queensland University of Technology and his project is part of the Designing Socio-technical Robotic Systems at the Australian Cobotics Centre. We interviewed Jasper recently to find out more about why she does what he does.

  • Tell us a bit about yourself and your research with the Centre? Include the long-term impact of what you are doing.

I have always been fascinated by how novel technologies integrate into our daily lives. Human-Robot Collaboration (HRC) offers an exciting opportunity to enhance human qualities and working conditions rather than replace human effort. My research focuses on uncovering crucial human factors in HRC applications, particularly manufacturing and robot-assisted surgery. By examining the real-world experiences of individuals collaborating with robots, I aim to design better HRC systems for Industry 5.0. My work seeks to improve the efficiency and safety of HRC, making these technologies more user-friendly and effective in complex environments.

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

HRC is a rapidly evolving field with many unexplored avenues. Being part of the Australian Cobotics Centre allows me to contribute to the foundation of future work by enhancing human efforts through Collaborative Robotics. The Centre offers a unique opportunity to foster industry connections and make a direct impact through my research. Collaborating closely with industry practitioners helps bridge the gap between academia and industry, ensuring that my work effectively addresses practical challenges.

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

I am particularly proud of my current projects with the Australian Cobotics Centre, which focus on human factors in surgery and manufacturing. These studies are grounded in real-world scenarios, like assembly line processes and robot-assisted surgical procedures. By emphasising user experience and leveraging action research with industry partners, I aim to create systems where humans and robots work together seamlessly. This approach not only centres around human needs but also tackles practical challenges, enhancing efficiency and safety in both industries.

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

I hope my research contributes to a deeper understanding of human experiences with HRC, aiding both academic researchers and industry practitioners. As robots become more embedded in our daily lives, understanding the human factors involved in this collaboration is crucial. My work aims to ensure that HRC systems are designed to effectively enhance human capabilities and work conditions.

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

I could give an hour-long presentation on smart home technology, which I find fascinating. While smart home devices offer convenience, connectedness, and entertainment, they also present privacy risks and surveillance concerns. My extensive research on this topic highlights the need for better education on the potential drawbacks of these technologies. With the rapid growth of smart home appliances, there’s plenty of material to discuss in an hour-long presentation.

Read more about Jasper’s project titled ‘Human Factors in Collaborative Robotics’ HERE.

ARTICLE: Enhancing Hydraulic Maintenance Operations with Multi-modal Feedback

Hydraulic systems are integral to industrial applications that require significant force, such as mining and manufacturing. Despite their power and efficiency, traditional hydraulic systems pose operational risks, especially when relying on binary controls and low-resolution feedback mechanisms. To address these challenges, a research team from the University of Technology, Sydney, led by Danial Rizvi, explored the potential of multi-modal feedback to enhance safety and performance in hydraulic maintenance operations.

The Challenges of Traditional Hydraulic Systems

In industrial settings, hydraulic systems are essential for tasks like installing and removing bushings and bearings. However, these systems typically use binary controls, limiting operators to simple open or close actions. This lack of precision can lead to operational errors and safety risks. Operators often rely on visual and auditory cues, which can be inconsistent and unreliable, increasing the potential for accidents and equipment failure.

Multi-modal Feedback: A New Approach

The research aimed to improve hydraulic maintenance operations by integrating haptic feedback through an adaptive trigger mechanism. This approach provides operators with tactile feedback, simulating the pressure build-up in hydraulic systems. The study compared the effectiveness of this haptic feedback against traditional visual and auditory cues.


The team conducted a user study involving 10 participants operating a simulated hydraulic system using a re-programmed DualSense controller. This controller provided four types of feedback: force (through adaptive trigger resistance), visual (pressure readings), sound (auditory cues), and vibration (tactile cues). Participants performed tasks under different feedback conditions to evaluate the impact on performance and user experience.

Performance Analysis

The study measured three key performance metrics: elapsed time, final pressure (PSI), and extension percentage. The results showed no significant differences in task performance across the different feedback types. However, participants expressed a preference for the adaptive trigger in subjective evaluations, noting that it enhanced their control and reduced cognitive load.

Subjective Ratings

Participants rated their comfort and confidence with each feedback type. The adaptive trigger received the highest median comfort rating, while the vibration feedback was the least preferred. Overall, the study found that while all feedback types enabled participants to achieve the desired hydraulic pressures, the adaptive trigger offered slight advantages in user comfort and perceived control.

Implications for Industrial Maintenance

The integration of haptic feedback into hydraulic systems holds promise for improving safety and efficiency in industrial maintenance. By providing operators with more precise and intuitive control mechanisms, multi-modal feedback systems can reduce reliance on less reliable sensory cues and enhance overall operational safety.

Future Research

Further research is needed to explore the long-term benefits of multi-modal feedback in diverse industrial environments. Expanding the participant pool and incorporating real-world scenarios will help validate these findings and refine the technology for broader application.


The study conducted by the University of Technology, Sydney, demonstrates the potential of multi-modal feedback to enhance hydraulic maintenance operations. While traditional feedback mechanisms remain effective, the adaptive trigger offers additional benefits in user comfort and control. As industries continue to evolve, integrating advanced feedback systems into hydraulic operations can lead to safer and more efficient maintenance practices.


  • Danial Rizvi, Dinh Tung Le, Munia Ahamed, Sheila Sutjipto, Gavin Paul. “Multi-modal Feedback for Enhanced Hydraulic Maintenance Operations.” University of Technology, Sydney.

Welcoming a new Industry Partner – Workr Labs

We’re delighted to welcome Workr Labs Inc. as our newest industry partner to the Australian Cobotics Centre! Led by a talented team including Ken Macken and Richard Pruss, Workr Labs brings a wealth of expertise in software-defined robotics and manufacturing.

About Workr Labs

Workr Labs is a forward-thinking startup with a mission to develop a software platform for industrial robotics that is both accessible and user-friendly for businesses of all sizes. Their innovative approach to Human-Robot Interaction streamlines task distribution and optimization, reducing the need for extensive expertise and making robotics more user-friendly. This aligns perfectly with our goal of integrating advanced technology into the workplace in a way that is intuitive and efficient.

The Importance of This Partnership

Workr Labs’ vision ties closely with the Centre’s research programs, particularly those focused on addressing human and design considerations that need to be factored in with new technology. We believe our collaboration will bring significant benefits, including:

  1. Enhanced Research Synergy: By combining our research expertise with Workr Labs’ innovative solutions, we aim to push the boundaries of what is possible in the field of collaborative robotics. This partnership will help us develop more intuitive, adaptable, and capable cobots.
  2. Industry Advancement: Our collaboration will provide our industry partners early access to new developments, facilitating the broader adoption of cobots in manufacturing. This means businesses can integrate advanced robotics into their processes more seamlessly and efficiently.
  3. Real-World Application: Along with our other industry partners (ARM Hub, B&R Enclosures, Cook Medical, InfraBuild, IR4 PTY LTD, Stryker, TAFE Queensland, and Weld Australia), Workr Labs will offer our PhD and Postdoctoral researchers fantastic opportunities to apply their research to real-world industry problems. This practical experience is invaluable for both our researchers and the industries they will serve.

Looking Ahead

We are thrilled about the potential of this partnership and look forward to the innovative projects and advancements that will arise from our collaboration with Workr Labs. Together, we aim to make significant strides in the field of collaborative robotics, benefiting both industry and the workforce.

Stay tuned for more updates as our projects progress! We are excited to share our journey and the milestones we achieve along the way.

ARTICLE: Industry 4.0 Awareness and Experience Workshop

These workshops were organised and run by Swinburne University of Technology’s Factory of the Future and were funded through the Victorian Government’s Digital Jobs for Manufacturing (DJFM) program. 

This article is written by PhD researcher from Swinburne University of Technology, Jagannatha Pyaraka.

In a series of enlightening workshops, Swinburne University of Technology has taken significant step in bridging the gap between industry professionals and the transformative potential of Industry 4.0 technologies. Over the past few weeks, four workshops were organized at strategic locations to maximize outreach and impact. The workshops were held at the VGBO office in Bundoora, Holiday Inn Dandenong, Rydges Geelong, and Mercure Ballarat. These sessions aimed to raise awareness and provide hands-on experience with collaborative robots (cobots), a foundation of modern industrial automation and other Industry 4.0 technologies such as AR, VR and wearable sensors.

The workshops attracted operations managers, CEOs, CFOs, and other key decision-makers eager to understand the practical applications and benefits of cobots in their respective fields. Accompanied by my ACC colleague, Dr. Anushani Bibile, we used the easily portable and cost-effective UFactory xArm6 cobot to demonstrate cobotics functionality.

The workshops commenced with an introduction to collaborative robots. Unlike traditional industrial robots, which often require extensive programming and are confined to specific tasks, cobots are designed to share a workspace with humans. Their ease of programming, adaptability to various tasks, and advanced safety features make them suitable for dynamic and evolving industrial environments.

To illustrate these points, we demonstrated a program involving the stacking of four objects. The objects were placed in predefined positions, and xArm6 was tasked with picking each object and stacking them. This exercise highlighted the cobot’s ability to perform repetitive tasks and its intuitive programming interface. Using Blockly, a visual programming language, participants observed how quickly and easily they could teach the cobot to execute tasks.

Following the demonstration, participants had the opportunity to interact with xArm6. They used Blockly to program the cobot for a simple pick-and-place task. This exercise allowed them to experience the user-friendly interface and the cobot’s responsiveness. The feedback was positive, with many participants noting how quickly they could learn to program and operate the cobot.

The hands-on session helped to remove common misconceptions about the complexity and inflexibility of industrial automation. By the end of the workshop, participants had a better understanding of how cobots can be integrated into their operations to enhance productivity, safety, and cost-effectiveness.

The workshops also emphasized the cost-effectiveness of cobots. Unlike traditional robots that require significant investment in programming and setup, cobots like the xArm6 offer an affordable solution without compromising performance. Their advanced safety systems, which allow them to operate safely alongside human workers, make them a viable option for businesses of all sizes.

Specific feedback from participants highlighted the positive impact and value of these sessions. One attendee noted, “The workshop provided a great insight into how Industry 4.0 can better impact our business and automate our processes.” Another participant appreciated the practical demonstrations, stating, “It was great to see the practical applications during the demonstrations.” Many attendees emphasized that the hands-on experience was invaluable, with one remarking, “Cobots demo was very stimulating. Thoroughly enjoyed the workshop.”

Before the workshop, common reactions included uncertainty about the complexity and applicability of cobots in their operations. After the sessions, many participants expressed confidence in integrating these technologies into their workflows, recognizing the potential for improved efficiency and innovation.

Overall, these workshops effectively bridged the knowledge gap for attendees, providing them with the tools and understanding necessary to embrace Industry 4.0 technologies. As more companies recognize the benefits of automation, the demand for cobots is set to rise, paving the way for a more efficient and innovative industrial landscape.