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Directors Message

Our Research Engagement

Centre News & Achievements

Feature Story

External Events & Seminars



Feature Story

Directors Message


It’s hard to believe we’re two-thirds of the way through the year already! A lot of accolades and achievements to celebrate for members and associates of the centre, including: a number of new PhD graduations for Juan, Valtteri and Faris; a prestigious PhD Siganto Foundation Medal award to Doug Morrison; very deserved promotions of two of our Chief Investigators Niko and Aaron to Professor and Associate Professor at QUT; appointment of our AI Nicole Robinson to the CSIRO Artificial Intelligence Centre Think Tank, and the Scientist of the Year award to AI Clinton Fookes at the Australian Defence Industry Awards – congratulations all! 

It’s also great to welcome a healthy influx of visiting researchers from overseas: most recently Daniella and Michael, both joining us from Europe. Australia is a fantastic place to do research but we are very much isolated from the rest of the world geographically, and researcher exchanges in both directions is one of the key ways in which we can overcome this isolation. 

You’ll also read detailed updates in this edition from the Cobotics Centre, The QUT Robotics Club, our Women in Robotics feature, as well as the usual publication and seminar highlights. We’ve had a bunch of fabulous seminars recently, including one today from Will Maddern, who was one of the first PhD students through the QUT Robotics lab a decade ago. Will’s had stints at Oxford University and most recently as Mapping and Localization Lead at major autonomous delivery vehicle company Nuro in the United States. 

As travel has ramped up again, it has become abundantly clear that memories in academia, industry and government can be short, especially when you haven’t been physically present “in the room” overseas and interstate for two and a half years. I am doing a substantial amount of travel over the coming months to give talks and attend strategic meetings, including trips to Greece, Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and will be promoting the centre and its capabilities, as will a large delegation of QCR researchers attending the 2022 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2022) in Kyoto, Japan in a few weeks. 


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Our Research Engagement

John Deere Workshop

The workshop was a great opportunity for John Deere to share our strategy around electrification and autonomy while also understanding QUT’s research around Robotics & Automation, Carbon Farming, Precision Ag and Sustainability.  It was great to hear that we are aligned on most of the topics and opportunities that were discussed and highlighted that it’s going to be an exciting time in Ag over the next 10 years. 
Centre News & Achievements

Siganto Foundation Medal 

Congratulations to Dr Doug Morrison who was awarded the 2022 Siganto Foundation Medal at Graduation.  

The Siganto Foundation Medal was established by the late Dr Bill Siganto AM and his wife Dr Marie Siganto AM, to recognise excellence in early career research and to support outstanding QUT Doctor of Philosophy graduates in engineering disciplines.     

Dr Doug Morrison’s thesis title “Robotic Grasping in Unstructured and Dynamic Environments” received a $10,000 award to allow him to undertake multidisciplinary professional development, and local and international research activities. 


Scientest of the Year Award

Congratulations to our associate investigator Clinton Fookes who won the Scientist of the Year award. 


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PhD Visitors

QCR welcomes two new PhD visitors - Daniella Tola is working with Peter Corke and Michael Schleiss with Sourav Garg. Daniella has come from Aarhus University in Denmark and Michael from Fraunhofer FKIE in Wachtberg, Germany. Both visitors are here till end of 2022.  

If you are interested in being a visitor to our Lab, please see more information here.


Member Achievements

Completed PhDs 

Congratulations to Dr Faris Azhari for being awarded his PhD with a thesis on “Automated Crack Detection and Characterisation from 3D Point Clouds of Unstructured Surfaces”.   




Congrats Dr Valtteri Kallinen - Thesis title: “Collision Risk Modelling for Unmanned Aircraft Separation and Traffic Management”.



Congratulations to Dr Juan Sandino Mora who has been awarded a PhD for his thesis "Autonomous decision-making for UAVs operating under environmental and object detection uncertainty".



Congratulations to our Adjunct and Associate Investigator Nicole Robinson on being appointed to the CSIRO Artificial Intelligence Centre Think Tank.




Congrats to CI Aaron McFadyen who was promoted to Associate Professor and CI Niko Suenderhauf who was promoted to Professor. 




The 31st August marked one year of operation for the Australian Cobotics Centre and to celebrate, they shared key achievements and highlights from the past 12 months on LinkedIn and updates on industry partner projects:  

The team are now preparing for the official launch of the Centre by the Australian Research Council in December 2022. The launch event will be part of the program for the 2022 Australasian Conference for Robotics & Automation (ACRA 2022) which the Centre is hosting at QUT. Key dates and information can be found here



CARECon 2022 (named after the four clubs who worked hard to organise the event, Code Network, QUT Aerospace Society, QUT Robotics Club, and Electrical Engineering Student Society), was the first event of it’s nature held by engineering clubs at QUT. The challenge to make an easily accessible industry event, with a wide range of industry areas to cater to a wide range of interests, was certainly an undertaking, but a raging success. The event featured a trade floor full of industry tables, where representatives could network and advertise to students using resources and demos, a presentation room for companies to dedicatedly talk about what they do, and a Q&A room, for students to understand more of the representative's perspectives on Industry 5.0, life after university, and more. In total, CARECon welcomed at least 170 students, including both dedicated members and non-members, 35 companies and 70 industry representatives, all of whom sung high praises of the work put in to develop an event of this calibre.  

CARECon invited the four club’s sponsors, including Boeing, Watkins Steel, QUT Centre for Robotics, KJR, Tritium, BPEQ, Tanda, Rio Tinto, Technology One Microsoft, Labrys, as well as many other international and local businesses, ranging from IT specialists, cloud computing, automation, robotics, manufacturing, drone, and aerospace engineers and more. The incredible keynote speech was also done by Sue Keay, one of QUT’s Leading Roboticists and Robotics Technology Lead at Oz Minerals, on Industry 5.0. The event has nurtured connections between students and industry and given students an opportunity to network and learn new skills, as well as fostered connections between industry themselves. The open style of the trade floor also allowed companies such as Australian Droid and Robot and BIA5 to bring some incredible demos in the form of their Supersonic UAV and tanks respectively.   

Not only did the event highlight the spirit of the clubs in the ways that they strive to benefit their members, it also highlighted the incredible community of the club executives who work hard to put on events such as these. These students worked tirelessly for months to organise industry, book rooms, allocate tables, create media content to advertise and display at the event, and set up and pack down. Events like CARECon are a reminder of the incredible QUT community, and the way that students, staff and industry alike seek to support each other. CARECon 2023 is already in the works, and all are excited to see what the CARE Clubs will do.  


Droid Racing Challenge

In 2022, the QUT Robotics Club ran their most successful Droid Racing Challenge (DRC) since COVID-19, with teams flying in from New South Wales to compete, as well as local Queensland universities including QUT, UQ and Griffith getting involved. 13 teams competed from 7 universities, with 21 teams actually preparing for the event. DRC gave these teams an opportunity to demonstrate their robotics skills and stretch the theoretical knowledge learnt in their degrees in an easily accessible competition. This year stretched us further than ever before, as we welcomed two high school teams from QASMT, who performed admirably for a university level competition.  

DRC features little red droids autonomously racing around a racetrack, with the aim of getting the fastest time. Competitor’s computer vision skills are tested by having to follow the blue and yellow lines marking out the track, as well as avoiding the purple obstacles and other red cars. The event stretches over two days, with the first being testing day for the teams to get a feel of the track. The winning track team, Griffith Golds, from Griffith University, spent this day running their robot through a machine learning algorithm, stepping their way through the track so that the robot could ‘learn’ what the track looked like. This resulted in their robot racing incredibly fast on the competition day, where competitors had three chances to race through the day. Their robot had a record time of 19 seconds and successfully navigated the challenging hairpin bend that featured on the tracks.  

The event was also streamed with the help of a QUT eSport Community Leader, to give viewers at home a chance to cheer on their teams. These streams allow the club to have a wider reach than just QUT, and even inspire viewers to pursue robotics. On Open Day, a young primary school child informed us that he had watched the competition, and expressed his interest in the robots, even telling us that he wanted to study mechanical engineering at university. Events like DRC are powerful tools to inspire the engineers of tomorrow, and the QUT Robotics Club treasures each chance we get to do this. 

This year, DRC featured two smaller tracks to enable teams to have more time on the track and to facilitate the increase in teams if all managed to come, which was designed specifically to be quickly modified into a larger track. This was a major success, resulting in a smooth and easy competition. As well as the technical part of the competition, we had the pleasure of welcoming the creator of DRC, Lachlan Robinson, the 2016 Projects Manager and 2017 Treasurer, and two of QCR’s amazing Chief Investigators, Dr Chris Lehnert and Dr Tobias Fischer, to judge the robot’s designs, as the teams work hard to create mechanically, electrically and stylishly impressive robots. We also welcomed Dr Stephen Hausler to present on autonomous navigation. The Best Design award was presented to DRC’s Most Wanted from the University of Sydney Robotics Club, the Organiser’s Choice award presented to Protobot, also from USyd, and overall, Team Kannonbolt from University of New South Wales CREATE took home the crown. 

As well as a chance to have some friendly competition, DRC is an excellent time to foster the relationships between University Engineering Clubs. The QUTRC executive team had the chance to talk to another university about how they’re managed and give them some ideas on how they could start their own club. Overall, DRC 2022 was a massive success, highlighting the incredible work of both the organising committee and competitors. 


Feature Story

Women in Robotics with Scarlett Raine

We are showcasing Scarlett Raine a current PhD student for our Women in Robotics feature! Scarlett is a wonderful asset to the Centre taking on roles of HDR representative as well as being an Ambassador for the Centre. We interviewed Scarlett on her experiences. See her responses below! 
How do use robotics in your current work / research?  
I’m currently doing my PhD in computer vision and deep learning for detection of underwater species in videos collected by autonomous underwater vehicles during reef surveys. I use my robotics knowledge and transferrable skills for my research in developing deep learning solutions to the problem of detecting and quantifying the presence of marine species such as corals, algae and substrates in the footage.    
What are you currently working on (in the robotic space)?  
Ecologists have traditionally completed marine surveys by using divers to take stationary, top-down photos of the seafloor. These images are then labelled using only a few randomly placed points in the frame, before extrapolating that information over the distance of the survey transect path. Currently, I’m looking at leveraging these images to train deep learning models to automatically analyse underwater imagery. Specifically, I've been working on a novel way to generate an augmented or pseudo ground truth based on superpixel segments informed by the ecologist's point labels. We can then use the augmented ground truth when training models to perform semantic segmentation.  Overall, our aim is to improve the accuracy and efficiency of marine surveys performed using underwater vehicles instead of divers.   
What is your favourite thing about doing work in robotics?  
I love the challenge of working in robotics – every day there is a new problem to solve and it never gets boring. I enjoy using my skills and knowledge in new ways and I’m constantly teaching myself new things. #Technology is advancing really quickly and robotics is a great field to experience that rapid change. It’s amazing to work in a dynamic and exciting field.   
Your best achievement (in robotics) to date is?  
My best achievement to date is working on a project with CSIRO which developed deep learning solutions for detection of both the Crown of Thorns starfish and different species of seagrasses. Seagrasses are critical for carbon sequestration and the Crown of Thorns starfish causes significant reef damage so this research has important applications both climate change and reef conservation.   
What is your advice to other women looking to study/work in robotics?  
Go for it! It can be intimidating to go into a field with such a significant gender imbalance, but there are so many women and men in robotics who are very supportive and will act as role models and mentors. Sometimes you might feel some imposter syndrome but just know you are meant to be there and that your presence and perspective is important and valued. 

Want to learn more about Scarlett? > READ MORE
External Events & Seminars

Past Events

Robotic Seminar Series 

Date: 12 July 

Title: Supercharging Creativity for Complex Challenges  

Speaker: Aspro Leah Heiss 

Download here 

Date: 6 September 2022

Title: Exploring the relationship between artificial intelligence (AI), deepfakes and romance fraud 

Speaker: Assoc Prof Cassandra Cross 

Download here  

Date: 13 September 2022

Title: Bayesian deep learning via MCMC sampling application to Robot path planning 

Speaker: Dr Rohitash Chandra 


Journal Articles 

A Novel Model of Interaction Dynamics between Legged Robots and Deformable Terrain  
A Vanderkop, N Kottege, T Peynot, P Corke – 2022 International Conference on Robotics and Automation 2022  

Transmission Power Policies for Energy-Efficient Wireless Control of Nonlinear Systems 
V Varma, R Postoyan, D Quevedo, I Morarescu - IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control 2022 
Scopus - Document details - Transmission Power Policies for Energy-Efficient Wireless Control of Nonlinear Systems 
Visibility Maximisation Controller for Robotic Manipulation 
K He, R Newbury, T Tran, J Haviland, B Burgess-Limerick, D Kulic, P Corke, A Cosgun 
Scopus - Document details - Visibility Maximization Controller for Robotic Manipulation 

Design and Flight Test of an Aerial Manipulator for Applications in GPS - Denied Environments 
M Ng, F Vanegas, K Morton, J Sandino, F Gonzalez – 2022 International Conference on Unmanned  Aircraft Systems  


Bayesian Quickest Change Detection of an Intruder in Acknowledgements for Private Remote State Estimation  
JM Kennedy, JJ Ford, DE Quevedo - arXiv preprint arXiv:2207.08329, 2022  
2207.08329.pdf (  

Manipulator Differential Kinematics  
J Haviland, P Corke - arXiv preprint arXiv:2207.01796, 2022  

Contemporary Remote Sensing Tools for Integrated Assessment and Conservation Planning of Ice-free Antarctica  
LP Valerio, J Shaw, F Gonzalez, S Robinson, K Helmstedt – Preprint EarthArXiv- 2022  
Contemporary Remote Sensing Tools for Integrated Assessment and Conservation Planning of Ice-free Antarctica  

How Many Events Do You Need? Event-based Visual Place Recognition Using Sparse But Varying Pixels  
T Fischer, M Milford - arXiv preprint arXiv:2206.13673, 2022  

Improving Worst Case Visual Localisation Coverage via Place-specific Sub-Selection in Multi-camera Systems  
S Hausler, M Xu, S Garg, P Chakravarty, S Shrivastava, A Vora, M Milford - arXiv preprint arXiv …, 2022  

When the Sun Goes Down: Repairing Photometric Losses for All-Day Depth Estimation  
M Vankadari, S Golodetz, S Garg, S Shin, A Markham, N Trigoni - arXiv preprint arXiv …, 2022  

Density-aware NeRF Ensembles: Quantifying Predictive Uncertainty in Neural Radiance Fields 
N Sünderhauf, J Abou-Chakra, D Miller - arXiv preprint arXiv:2209.08718, 2022 

Noisy Inliers Make Great Outliers: Out-of-Distribution Object Detection with Noisy Synthetic Outliers 
S Wilson, T Fischer, F Dayoub, N Sünderhauf - arXiv preprint arXiv:2208.13930, 2022 

Data Efficient Visual Place Recognition Using Extremely JPEG-Compressed Images 
MA Tomita, B Ferrarini, M Milford, K McDonald-Maier… - arXiv preprint arXiv …, 2022 
Data Efficient Visual Place Recognition Using Extremely JPEG-Compressed Images 

Ensembles of Compact, Region-specific & Regularized Spiking Neural Networks for Scalable Place Recognition 
S Hussaini, M Milford, T Fischer - arXiv preprint arXiv:2209.08723, 2022 
Ensembles of Compact, Region-specific & Regularized Spiking Neural Networks for Scalable Place Recognition 

Manipulator Differential Kinematics Part I: Kinematics, Velocity and Applications  
J Haviland, P Corke - arXiv e-prints, 2022  

 Manipulator Differential Kinematics Part II: Acceleration and Advanced Applications  
J Haviland, P Corke - arXiv e-prints, 2022  

Design and Flight Testing of a Two DOF Decoupled Pantograph Aerial Manipulator for Commercial UAVs  
C Luxton, J Sandino, F Vanegas, F Gonzalez – 2022 International Conference on Unmanned  Aircraft Systems  

Sequence-Based Filtering for Visual Route-Based Navigation: Analysing the Benefits, Trade-offs and Design Choices  
MA Tomita, M Zaffar, B Ferrarini, M Milford – IEEE Access 2022  

Predicting to Improve: Integrity Measures for Assessing Visual Localisation Performance  
H Carson, JJ Ford, M Milford  

Evolving polydisperse soft robotics jamming grippers SG Fitzgerald, GW Delaney, D Howard, F Maire - GECCO 22: Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference Companion 

Detection of White Leaf Disease in Sugarcane Using Machine Learning Techniques over UAV Multisprectral Images 
A Narmilan, F Gonzalez, ASA Salgadoe, K Powell - Drones, 2022 
Detection of White Leaf Disease in Sugarcane Using Machine Learning Techniques over UAV Multispectral Images 


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