The Creative Robotics Lab (CRL) is the first Social Robotics laboratory in Australia. The CRL is a collaborative research and educational space that advances interaction between humans and machines by designing and evaluating novel interfaces and incorporating the principles of creative practice in its approach to social robotics. The CRL was founded in 2011 at the UNSW School of Art & Design by Professor Mari Velonaki as part of her vision to create technological systems that improve and enhance the human experience. The CRL has three research streams:

  • Assistive Technologies, led by Dr Scott Andrew Brown. This stream aims to empower people through the creative implementation of a range of technologies and design experiences by directly collaborating with neurodiverse and disabled people.
  • Culture and Technology, led by Dr Deborah Turnbull Tillman. Develops experimental criteria for the creation and evaluation of new technologies through the eyes of new media interactive art and audience engagement.
  • Human Futures, led by Dr Belinda Dunstan. This area of research focuses on appearance design, movement planning and the future social implications of robot design and morphology.

The Creative Robotics Lab is directed by Professor Mari Velonaki.

CRL’s multidisciplinary prototyping and testing space is used by UNSW researchers, students and industry partners. The CRL utilises its sister facility, the ARC funded National Facility for Human-Robot Interaction Research, for evaluation of prototypes developed in the CRL in a high-resolution state-of-the-art testing environment, purpose-designed to unobtrusively capture complex data sets of people interacting with robots and other technological systems.

Current lab members

Associate Professor David Rye (UNSW Adjunct)
Professor Katsumi Watanabe (Adjunct, Waseda University)
Associate Professor Katherine Moline (UNSW)
Dr Eduardo Benitez Sandoval (UNSW Scientia Fellow)
Jorge Forseck Rauh Hain (Senior Research Officer)
Dr Sarita Herse (Research Associate)
Dr Ethan Jones (Research Fellow)
Dr Haider Akmal (Lecturer, UNSW)
Su Dam (Project Officer)
Michael Blake (PhD Candidate)
Avish Chand (Masters Candidate)

A collaborative human lens on robotics

The CRL has close partnerships with the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, UNSW Computer Science and Engineering, UNSW Ageing Futures Institute and Waseda University. This reflects the multidisciplinary and collaborative nature of the CRL and the expertise on hand in sensing, perception, artificial intelligence and real-time systems. Researchers in the CRL bring a human-centred approach to social robotics, working alongside engineers, social scientists, artists and developers to create interactive objects and systems that enhance the human experience. Current projects include:

Real-time estimation of cognitive load

This HPRnet (DST) project aims to estimate cognitive and physical load of Army crew members in real time using an AI-based advisory system driven by multi-sensor inputs to improve team performance (2020-2024).

Auto-assist technology evaluation with older drivers

ARC Linkage Project with Suncorp and in collaboration with UNSW Ageing Futures: Cognitive ageing and driver–assist technologies: developing a system for real-time monitoring of driver behaviour and reactions to driver-assist systems in new cars (2020-2023).

New morphologies for a social robot

Supported by Fuji Xerox Japan: Development of a collaborative robot for implementation in a corporate office environment (2017-2022).

Neurodiversity and spatial sound

In collaboration with Dickens Audio and UNSW Ageing Futures Institute, this multi-channel sound environment is designed to create auditory experiences that are exciting and enjoyable for neurodivergent people (2021-2022).

When will I see you again?

A multi-platform project and research into the fading memory of a person with dementia and the re-creation of a communication with a loved one through a mnemonic device (2017-2021).

Get more information or partner with the CRL

The CRL is always open to collaborations with researchers from other institutions and industry partnerships. Researcher expertise, bookable spaces and industry masterclasses are available. For more information.

CRL future partnerships

Professor Mari Velonaki

Director, Creative Robotics Lab


General enquiries