Applications of robotic and autonomous systems include medical robotics, agriculture and viticulture and education amongst many others. Research grants and contract research through many projects have demonstrated our ability to work successfully with industry, with international impact. 


Many challenges remain in the medical robotics domain, where surgical techniques are adapting to improve patient outcomes. At UNSW, we’re developing flexible robots and intelligent perception for minimally invasive surgery. By innovating mechanism design, integrating smart sensing, and optimising human-robot interaction, we aim to provide surgeons with more dexterous and intelligent tools and make surgery easier and safer. Systems have been developed for transnasal procedures and arthroscopy in collaboration with Holy Spirit Northside Hospital, Prince Charles Hospital and St George Hospital. 

Agriculture and viticulture 

One of Australia’s first autonomous tractors led to the later successful development of a precise autonomous seeder and a retrofitted full-size autonomous Komatsu bulldozer. This was demonstrated at the Menangle test site, which has facilities for the demonstration of large systems in an agricultural setting. The developed technology and the software architecture were also used to auto steer road construction machinery of a major Sydney based company. 

Several Category 1 grants from Wine Australia and Hort Innovations to Dr Mark Whitty have opened new opportunities for the deployment of image processing systems in viticulture and agriculture. Systems have also been developed for trunk disease detection, yield estimation, data mining and real-time phenology estimation. These innovations have been made on conjunction with SwarmFarm, ADAMA, SARDI-PIRSA, Treasury Wine Estates, Pernod Ricard, Plant and Food Research NZ and other industry partners. 


With the longstanding undergraduate degree in Mechatronic Engineering as well as the recently introduced Master of Engineering Science in Robotics, our team has had extensive experience in developing lectures, tutorials and labs. Whole hands-on practical experiences have been a hallmark of the programs. Staff have also innovated ways put to making remotely accessed mechatronic systems. These enable 24/7 access for students, making education more convenient than ever before. 

By supporting student-led projects since 2007, staff have been part of teams who have won podium places in international robotics competitions. This has inspired the next generation of students to enrol in mechatronic engineering and go on to careers in companies such as Tesla, Waymo and Uber.