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PhD Project Introductions

Cooperation and sharing of information are vital for the success of our Center. 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, Akash Hettiarachchi and Louis Fernandez 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.


New PhD Researcher, Eleonora Zodo

Let’s introduce Eleonora Zodo, our newest team member. Eleonora is a PhD researcher at QUT (Queensland University of Technology), actively involved in the Human-Robot Interaction program.

This program focuses on critical aspects of human interaction with robotic systems, including mutual awareness, visualising robotic intentions, and developing rapid collaborative robotic solutions. The program is built on understanding collaborative work patterns and specific task domains and aims to create practical Human-Robot Collaboration (HRC) solutions and support industry adoption.

Eleonora’s research project centers on establishing safe and efficient #HumanRobotcollaboration. The work has practical implications, from manufacturing to operating theaters, and involves partners like Cook Medical and Stryker.

We are pleased to welcome Eleonora to the team and anticipate her valuable contributions. Join us in welcoming Eleonora aboard!

Welcome Eleonora!

Meet our E.P.I.C. Researcher, Jagannatha Pyaraka

Jagannatha Pyaraka is a PhD researcher based at Swinburne and his project is part of the Biomimic Cobots Program at the Australian Cobotics Centre.

He is excited to work in the field of Robotics/Automation that serves and inspires society in leading a simple and better quality of life.

We interviewed Jagannatha recently to find out more about why he does what he does.

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

I finished my Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical and Electronics) degree from GITAM University in 2018 and master’s in professional engineering (Robotics and Mechatronics) in 2021 from Swinburne University of Technology. Following the undergraduate degree, I worked as a Senior QA Automation Engineer at NTT DATA Services. Now I am pursuing my PhD in field of robotics.

My research under ACC is centered on developing a learning framework for cobots through biomimicry digital twinning. I am pioneering a learning from demonstration methodology for collaborative robots using digital twin technology. This project addresses several critical challenges: enabling robots to adapt to varied operational conditions for a given task, facilitating their learning of diverse tasks in a manner analogous to human learning, and significantly reducing the necessity for human intervention in the robot’s learning process. I am confident that the advancements from this research will pave the way for more intuitive robot-human interactions, enabling robots to understand tasks more holistically and perform them as instinctively as humans.

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

As a postgraduate, my decision to become a part of the Australian Cobotics Centre is fuelled by the extraordinary prospects it offers. The Centre’s vision to revolutionize the Australian manufacturing industry through collaborative robotics resonates deeply with my desire to contribute to impactful change. The opportunity to enhance manufacturing efficiency, and prioritize safety aligns perfectly with my aspirations for a meaningful and dynamic career.

The Centre’s commitment to cutting-edge research and innovation is particularly enticing. Being at the forefront of technological advancements in collaborative robotics would not only allow me to engage with groundbreaking ideas but also give me the chance to be part of a transformative movement. The interdisciplinary approach embraced by the Centre is equally appealing, as it would enable me to explore diverse fields, fostering a versatile skill set that’s crucial in today’s ever-evolving landscape.

The prospect of industry collaboration is another significant factor in my decision. The Centre’s connections with industry partners and its dedication to training researchers and engineers with practical skills means I would be well-prepared to transition seamlessly into the workforce. Moreover, the people-centric and inclusive environment the Centre promotes assures me of a supportive community where I can grow both personally and professionally. Overall, ACC offers a unique chance to merge my academic pursuits with real-world impact, making it an inspiring destination to embark on my journey toward a fulfilling career.

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

During my final semester, I undertook an internship at a company that exposed me to a real-world challenge in the realm of autonomous vehicles. To address this issue, I meticulously designed and built an Arduino-based data logger capable of capturing serial data communication between two subsystems. My contribution encompassed both hardware and software elements, resulting in a robust end-to-end system. The finalized product was a turnkey solution that industry professionals could seamlessly utilize for similar scenarios.

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

The goal of my work is to make robots work more like humans. By improving how they learn and interact, we hope to make human-robot teamwork smoother. In the long run, this means robots could do tasks just as naturally as humans, changing the way we work together in many fields.

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

Autonomous systems in Everyday Life

TAFE Queensland Explores QUT Centre for Robotics’ Industry Collaborations

Yesterday, TAFE Queensland’s representatives visited the QUT Centre for Robotics (QCR) at the Queensland University of Technology’s Gardens Point campus for an informative tour. Led by QCR PhD researcher Somayeh Hussaini, the delegation, including Shawn O’Sullivan, Mark Robertson, and Richard Auld, got a glimpse of the center’s ongoing industry collaborations and its impact on research.

The tour focused on showcasing the joint projects between QCR and various industries, highlighting the practical applications and benefits of their research efforts. The Australian Cobotics Centre PhD researchers, Jacqueline Greentree, Nisar Ahmed Channa, and Jagannatha Pyaraka, along with Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr. Melinda Laundon, also participated in the tour, offering their expertise and insights.


In a recent webinar, Dr. Melinda Laundon and Shawn O’Sullivan engaged in a discussion on how education and training systems can support a digitally-enabled workforce in the Australian manufacturing sector. The seminar emphasised the importance of preparing graduates with relevant skills to meet the demands of emerging technologies in the industry. Additionally, they shared the latest research findings from the Australian Cobotics Centre Human-Robot Workforce Program, led by Dr. Melinda Laundon, Professor Paula McDonald, and Jacqueline Greentree.

Watch the webinar via the link – (2) Supporting the digitally-enabled manufacturing workforce: the role of education and training systems – YouTube

Congratulations to our PhD researcher, Jagannatha Pyaraka

Congratulations to our PhD researcher from Swinburne University of TechnologyJagannatha Charjee Pyaraka who passed his confirmation of candidature this week!

The COC Panel was chaired by A/Prof Chris McCarthy with Dr Michelle Dunn and Dr Andrew Ang as other panel members.
Jagan’s supervisors (A/Prof Mats Isaksson, Dr John McCormick & Dr Fouad (Fred) Sukkar) were also in attendance.

More information about his project can be found on our website:

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.

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.




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: