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Our people

Our people

The Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 is a multidisciplinary team of experts in advanced research and development of applied robotics and autonomous systems.

With over 80 people, the team is comprised of Research Scientists, Post-Doctoral Fellows, Engineers, PhD & Masters Students and Industrial Trainees.

The Group is distributed across key teams: Robotics Perception, Advanced Mechatronics Systems, Sensing & Processing Architectures, Dynamic Platforms and Dependable Long-term Autonomy

Our Alumni list can also be found here.

Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group team at ICRA2018
Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group team at ICRA2018

Portrait photo of Fred Pauling

Mr Fred Pauling, Senior Engineer | Group Leader for the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group

Fred leads the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61.  He has been primarily focussed on 3D SLAM related projects and activities since he joined CSIRO in 2009, and is currently responsible for SLAM strategy and product development in the Robotics Group. Fred received his first-class honours degree in Mechatronic Engineering from UQ in 2009, and was also awarded a bachelors degree in Computer Science from NTU (now CDU) in 2001.

Alberto Elfes

Prof Dr Alberto Elfes, Chief Research Scientist | Science Leader for the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group

Prof. Dr. Alberto Elfes is a Chief Research Scientist at the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. He has a BEng in Electronics Engineering and an MSc in Computer Science  from the Aeronautics Institute of Technology (ITA), Brazil, and a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU), USA, where he developed the Occupancy Grid framework for robot mapping and navigation.

Alberto has a distinguished research record, with over 150 publications in international journals and conferences,and has given over 350 invited and keynote talks in the USA, Europe, Japan, Australia and Brazil. Before joining CSIRO in 2011, he held a number of senior positions, including Director of the Brazilian Automation Institute and Principal Researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Alberto has led projects in autonomous aerial, ocean and ground robots for Earth science missions and planetary exploration. His current research interests include 3D multi-modal perception, legged robots for extreme terrain, science rovers, and new robot concepts enabled by advances in materials science.

Alberto is recipient of the Mercator Professorship Award of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and several  NASA awards. He is also an Honorary Professor at the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, University of Queensland.

Dr Elliot Duff, Principal Research Consultant | Product Leader for the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group

Elliot Duff is a Principal Research Consultant at the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. His formal training is in computational physics and metallurgical engineering, but over his career he has been involved in many aspects of autonomous systems development, including: image processing, visualisation, navigation and embedded systems design.

Since 1999 his main focus has been in the area of field robotics and in particular the development of control and sensing systems that allow machines to operate autonomously outdoors in hostile and unstructured environments. This work has included the automation of large mining excavators, underground ore haulage vehicles and explosive loading machines.

For a number of years, he led the Robotic Perception team with interests in localisation and mobile mapping in GPS denied areas. More recently, he led the Autonomous Systems Program with interests in field robotics, sensor networks and cognitive systems. Today he oversees a number of emerging markets, including: Spatial Intelligence and the Industrial Internet.

Nicholas Hudson, Senior Principal Research Engineer | Technical Leader for the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group

Nicolas Hudson is a Senior Principal Research Scientist and the Technical Leader for the Robotics and Autonomous System Group at CSIRO Data61. Before joining CSIRO, Nicolas lead the [Google] X Robotics perception team, with a focus on applying machine learning to mobile manipulators. During his time at Google, he also worked for Boston Dynamics on whole body humanoid manipulation. Prior to Google, Nicolas was at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where he lead/contributed to several US Department of Defense projects in mobile manipulation, including JPL’s winning DARPA ARM team, the DARPA Robotics Challenge, and technology development tasks for Mars Sample Return. This work culminated in Nicolas being awarded NASA’s Early Career Achievement Medal for contributions to robotic manipulation autonomy.

Paul Flick

Paul Flick, Senior Engineer | Operations Leader for the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group

Paul Flick is a Senior Project Leader with the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. Paul is also the Boeing and Manufacturing Cluster leader which enables him to oversee the proposals and projects within this area for the Autonomous Systems. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechatronic Engineering (2001 USQ, Hons) and Joined CSIRO in 2005 after four years with CNC Manufacturer Advanced Robotics Technologies based in Brisbane.

Paul is also the designer of CSIRO’s Zebedee 3D Mapping system which has won the 2013 Australian National IAward for Research and Development, 2013 ANSTO Eureka Prize for innovative Use of Technology, and the 2014 CSIRO Medal for Scientific Excellence. He designed  the new ZebREVO and SurphSLAM 3D mapping systems. Paul is experienced in Robotics design and development, and with the integration of systems and sensors, in particular LiDAR and camera systems.

Full Biography

Cuc Tran, QCAT Site Coordinator – Cyber-Physical Systems, Data61 


Robotics Perception Team

Paulo Borges

Dr Paulo Borges, Principal Research Scientist | Robotics Perception Team Leader

Paulo is a Principal Research Scientist, Project Manager and Leader of the Robotics Perception Team in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. His current research focuses on sensor-fusion, visual-lidar robot tracking and localisation, and autonomous vehicles. The topic of his Ph.D. (Queen Mary, University of London, 2007) was digital image/video processing, with strong focus on statistical signal processing methods. Paulo is also interested in general field robotics. He has been part of the CSIRO team since 2009. During this period, he also had a visiting scientist appointing at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, in 2012-13.

Full Biography

Mark Cox

Dr Mark Cox, Senior Experimental Scientist – Robotics Perception

Dr Mark Cox is a senior experimental scientist at the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group CSIRO Data61. His interests in computer vision and machine learning have allowed him to work on a wide range of projects spanning non-rigid face tracking, unsupervised registration of images and wearable technologies.

Peyman Moghadam

Dr Peyman Moghadam, Senior Research Scientist – Robotics Perception | AgTech Cluster Leader

Dr. Peyman Moghadam is a Technical Entrepreneur, Scientist and Project Leader at the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group CSIRO Data61. Before joining CSIRO, he has worked in a number of top leading organizations such as the Deutsche Telekom Laboratories (Germany) and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (Singapore). Dr. Moghadam is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Adjunct Fellow at the University of Queensland (UQ), Australia.

In his recent role as the AgTech Cluster Leader at the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61, he leads the transition of innovative technologies into farms. He was Lead of the CSIRO’s HeatWave product, a handheld technology for 3D thermal imaging which has won the 2014 Australian National iAward for Research and Development. His current research interests include 3D multi-modal perception (3D++), robotics, computer vision, machine learning, and 3D thermal/hyperspectral imaging.

Full Biography

Bandyopadhyay, Tirthankar

Dr Tirthankar Bandyopadhyay, Research Scientist – Robotics Perception

Tirtha joined the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 in 2013 where he  is a Research Scientist.  His main focus is in motion planning, design and control of field robots.  He gained his PhD from the National University of Singapore in 2010. Tirtha also studied at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur where he completed his Bachelor of Technology in 2001.

Dr Vu M. Nguyen, Postdoctoral Research Fellow Robotics Perception

Vu M. Nguyen received his BInfTech degree from University of Engineering and Technology, (UET-VNU), Vietnam in 2003; MInfTech and PhD degrees from Griffith University, Australia in 2006 and 2012 respectively. From 2013 to 2016, he was an IT team leader at the SIAMA Pty Ltd, Australia. Since 2016, he has been working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 in Brisbane, Australia, where he was seconded to the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) in Melbourne. His research topics include persistent autonomy, path planning, robot localisation, image processing, and pattern recognition.

Dr Stefan Hrabar, Principal Research Scientist – Robotics Perception

Stefan is a Principal Research Scientist at the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 based in Brisbane and specialises in research of rotorcraft Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). He joined CSIRO in 2006 after completing his PhD in Computer Science at the University of Southern California. Stefan is broadly interested in civilian applications of UAVs and making them more user-friendly by increasing their levels of autonomy, and improving the human-machine interaction experience. His research has covered topics such as vision and lidar-based UAV obstacle avoidance, UAV path planning algorithms, UAV mission planning tools, and 3D visualisation of UAV-collected data.

Full Biography

Serge Lichman

Serge Lichman, Senior Engineer – Robotics Perception 

As an electronic design engineer at the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group CSIRO Data61, Serge Lichman has broad prior experience in system design using microcontrollers and FPGAs, in VHDL programming and sensor interfacing. Lately his primary focus was on the production level software engineering, including requirements analysis, architectural design, development, testing, optimisation and maintenance of software products. He is familiar with modern tools and practices and actively uses them in software development. His research interests are in the area of computer vision, digital signal processing and control systems.

Tom Lowe

Tom Lowe, Research Projects Officer- Robotics Perception

Tom’s background is in computer science, dynamics, graphics and software engineering. He has worked in 3D game development, physical character control and physics engine development. At the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 Tom is responsible for the SLAM development work used for 3D lidar mapping, and also on developing new motion control algorithms for legged robots. Currently he is also combining my projects with a part-time phd in robot motion control, with a particular focus on soft, compliant actuation of robots.

Michael Thoreau, Engineer – Robotics Perception

Michael is an engineer in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. Michael joined CSIRO in 2017 after graduating with bachelor’s degrees in electrical and computer engineering and computer science from the University of Queensland (UQ). Michael currently works on deep learning for robotic perception and industrial safety. He also completed his undergraduate thesis under Dr Navinda Kottege in 2016, studying acoustic perception for mobile robots.


Advanced Mechatronics Systems Team

Leslie Philip Overs, Senior Engineer | Advanced Mechatronics Systems Team Leader 

In 1992, Les started a degree at the Queensland University of Technology and also became the Queensland State Service Manager for Sanyo Australia, responsible for service and support in the Queensland and northern NSW region. In this role he managed Sanyo staff and over 300 contracted service centers. Mr Overs was also the youngest State Service Manager for Sanyo Australia at the time of his appointment.

Les received his First Class Honours Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1997 from the Queensland University of Technology. He joined CSIRO in 1999. In the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61, his primary task was the design of hardware systems for the laboratory’s many projects and activities. He is currently the engineering manager and a research team leader for the Brisbane laboratory and his team delivers the underpinning electrical, electronic, and mechanical and computer systems critical for all the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group projects (over 30 projects this year).

Les is also the DATA61 Location Leader for the Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies Site (QCAT) and is responsible for location operations; representation and engagement and supporting health; safety & the environment for the site. He is the DATA61 representative for the QCAT Site Space and QCAT Site Management committees.

Full Biography

Stephen Brosnan

Stephen Brosnan, Senior Electronics Technician & Research Projects Officer – Advanced Mechatronics Systems

Stephen is a Senior Research Technician at the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 based in Brisbane and specialises in hardware development for the Group. He joined CSIRO in 2001 after many years working in private industry and as a business owner, is formally qualified as a fitter – machinist and electronics technician, holds a restricted electrical licence as well as several nationally accredited licences to operate high risk machinery. Stephen is broadly interested in applied mechatronics systems but focused on Printed Circuit Board design and is a registered CID+ senior PCB designer.


Brett Wood, Senior Engineer – Advanced Mechatronics Systems

Mr Brett Wood is a Research Projects Officer at the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. He received a double degree in Microelectronic Engineering and Information Technology with Honours from Griffith University in 2007. For his final year Industrial Traineeships he completed a project at the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group on the development of an Autonomous Water Vehicle. Since joining CSIRO in 2007, Brett has worked on several Autonomous Robotic Systems including the development of the UAV system and Environmental Sensor Networks.

Ryan Steindl

Ryan Steindl, Research Engineer – Advanced Mechatronics Systems

Ryan Steindl started working with Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 in early 2013. He graduated in Mechatronics Engineering from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in 2013.  Ryan’s work at CSIRO heavily revolves around robotic system design with a focus on legged locomotion. Duties include operation of 3D printing laboratory for the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group, and engineering support for research projects spanning multiple disciplines within Data61.

Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson, Research Engineer – Advanced Mechatronics Systems

Ben Wilson is a part of the Mechatronic Engineering team in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. He recently graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechatronic Engineering. Ben is currently working on the parts of the ZebREVO along with other embedded systems projects.

Nicholas Panitz, Research Engineer – Advanced Mechatronics Systems

Nicholas Panitz is a Mechatronic Engineer within the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 in Brisbane. He graduated from Griffith University with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechatronic Engineering. Since joining CSIRO in 2017, Nick has been working on multiple projects involving 3D design, embedded systems, and computer vision.

John Whitham

John Whitham, Research Projects Officer – Advanced Mechatronics Systems

John Whitham arrived in Perth WA from England 1974 and worked in the Western Australia mining industry for six years before moving to Queensland. He then spent 23 years in manufacturing maintenance industrial in the Brisbane area prior to joining CSIRO in 2004. Mr Whitham designs and manufactures, to a high degree of accuracy, the various Mechatronic Systems for the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 using the in-house facilities. He provides the critical and novel electrical and mechanical infrastructure for the AS lab’s many projects. John manages the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group’s Mechatronics workshop on the Pullenvale site and is responsible for all of the specialised machinery and equipment.

Erin McColl, Engineer – Advanced Mechatronics Systems

Erin McColl is a mechatronics engineer and project manager within the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. With a bachelor’s degree (hons) in Mechatronics Engineering (UQ, 2013), a Master’s of applied science (QUT, 2016) and Masters of Biofabrication (Uni Würzburg, 2017) plus experience in 3D vision for industry automation, Erin has broad technical knowledge spanning numerous technologies and fields. Through leveraging her knowledge and experience, Erin is also an accomplished multidisciplinary and technical communicator, often working at the intersection of technology, science and application.

Erin has also spent 10 years working in robotics STEM education and outreach through organisations like Robocup Jr, Robogals, CSIRO STEM professionals in schools and private initiatives. This work focuses on motivating young women to consider careers in engineering and technology.

Full Biography

James Brett

James Brett, Engineer – Advanced Mechatronics Systems

James Brett is a Mechatronic Engineer who graduated Griffith University in 2014. After graduating, he began work as a Design Engineer within the Industrial Automation and Robotics field. James commenced work with CSIRO in 2016 and he currently works as a Mechatronics Engineer in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61.


Sensing and Processing Architectures Team

Photo of Kazys Stepanas

Kazys Stepanas, Senior Engineer | Sensing and Processing Architectures Team Leader 

Kazys Stepanas is a software engineer in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. He has over 18 years of experience and holds a bachelor degree in Computer Engineering specialising in software engineering from the University of Canberra. Kazys’ experience covers a wide range of software engineering disciplines including 3D graphics and simulation, artificial intelligence and physics simulation. Kazys specialises in software architectures, multi-threaded programming including GPU programming, debugging and optimisation. Kazys has spent the last number of years working with CSIRO SLAM technologies processing point cloud data and trajectories

Dr Sisi Liang, Software Engineer – Sensing and Processing Architectures

Dr. Sisi Liang is a software engineer at the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. She received her PhD in Information Sciences from Victoria University in Melbourne in 2017 where she used structure-based models to analyze diffusion MRI data with the aim to help disease diagnosis. Before joining CSIRO, she has worked in a number of orgranizations such as IBM Australian Reseach Lab (Australia), Aquaforest Ltd (UK), and Wintone Ltd (China). She has extensive experience in the visualization and processing of medical image data. Her research interests are image processing, machine learning, and software engineering. She currently conducts research in computer vision.

Portrait Photo of Dennis Frousheger

Dennis Frousheger, Senior Engineer – Sensing and Processing Architectures

Dennis is a senior software engineer and project manager and has been working on robotics and automation projects since 2008 with an emphasis on unmanned aircraft. As a software engineer Dennis has significant experience developing embedded software as well as user interface applications. As a project manager at CSIRO he has managed collaborative research projects for unmanned aircraft. Since 2009 Dennis has been the Head Marshall for the UAV Challenge, an international competition for high school students and unmanned aircraft enthusiasts. Dennis has prior experience as a consulting engineer and project leader developing industrial and consumer products.

Full Biography

Portrait of Darren Moore

Darren Moore, Senior Engineer – Sensing and Processing Architectures 

Darren Moore is a senior engineer in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 based in Brisbane. He specialises in embedded software development for field-deployed environmental sensing devices. He holds Bachelors degrees in electronic engineering and information technology, and a research Masters degree in microphone array speech enhancement. Before joining CSIRO in November 2005 he worked as an embedded software engineer for Motorola, and as a speech recognition research engineer for the IDIAP Research Institute in Switzerland. He has substantial technical expertise and experience developing robust software for field-deployed sensing devices, as well as all facets of environmental monitoring systems (from sensors in the field to data archival and web presentation). His engineering expertise and interests lie in embedded software development, wireless sensor networks, acoustic signal processing, and environmental monitoring.

Portrait of Duncan Palmer

Duncan Palmer, Senior Engineer – Sensing and Processing Architectures 

Duncan is a Senior Software Engineer in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. He has a long history of embedded software development, using Linux on a variety of hardware platforms, and can be found happily hacking on drivers, application code or Python scripts. Before joining CSIRO, Duncan spent about 7 years working in the Digital Television Industry, and as such knows quite a bit about Audio and Video delivery, decoding and presentation. He has experience in a number of industries and a track record of production software delivery.

David Haddon

David Haddon, Senior Engineer – Sensing and Processing Architectures 

David Haddon has a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering (Computer Systems), and is  currently employed as a Software Engineer in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61.  He works on the software of embedded PC’s and microprocessors, as well as doing web interfaces and data collection systems. David likes to do sensor interfaces when possible. Can program in C, C++, Python, HTML, Javascript, and PHP.  Hes loves Formula1 and motorsports in general with as much time spent on Gran Turismo as possible.

Photo of Gavin Catt

Gavin Catt, Engineer – Sensing and Processing Architectures 

Gavin Catt is a Software Engineer in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. He graduated Griffith University, and commenced work with CSIRO in 2014. He has experience in a range of areas including 6DOF LiDAR-based SLAM, ROS system architectures, 3D/2D data processing and visualization, embedded systems, user-space device drivers, and was the lead developer for the software stack enabling CSIRO’s SLAM to be used as a 3D real-time mapping system in systems such as SurphSLAM. Gavin likes to work with 2D/3D systems; is proficient in C, C++, Python, HTML, and JavaScript; and loves guinea pigs.


Benjamin Tam, Engineer – Sensing and Processing Architectures 

Benjamin is an engineer with the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. He first joined CSIRO in 2015 for his undergraduate thesis in the area of fall detection, prevention and recovery of bipedal robots before moving to the Distributed Sensor Systems group as a Research Assistant. He currently works on the hexapod robot platform in the areas of locomotion control and augmented perception.


Dynamic Platforms Team

Navinda Kottege

Dr Navinda Kottege, Senior Research Scientist | Dynamic Platforms Team Leader

Navinda Kottege is a Senior Research Scientist and Project Leader with the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. He received his PhD in Engineering from The Australian National University in 2009 where he was a member of the Serafina project which developed swarming technology for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). He initiated legged robotics research at CSIRO in 2011 which by now has built up in to a world-leading R&D capability.

He currently conducts research in perception, control and locomotion for multi-legged robots, with a focus on low-level proprioceptive sensing and control. He has also led multiple projects for industry clients, developing collision awareness systems and personnel detection and tracking solutions for industrial environments. His fields of interest include Experimental Robotics, Acoustic Perception, Bioacoustics and Sensor Networks. He holds adjunct positions at at the University of Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and Vice-chair of the joint IEEE Control Systems and Robotics and Automation Societies’ Queensland Chapter.

Full Biography

Adrian Bonchis

Dr Adrian Bonchis, Research Scientist – Dynamic Platforms

Adrian has been involved for over 26 years in delivering innovative automation solutions to mining, farming and manufacturing operations. Applications covered a wide range, from rigid and flexible manufacturing lines in his early years, to operator assist, semi-autonomous and autonomous systems for heavy mobile equipment in agriculture and mining in the later years of his career.

Dr Arash Khodaparastsichani, Research Engineer – Dynamic Platforms

Arash is a research engineer in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. He received the B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in 2008 and 2010 and the Ph.D. degree from the University of New South Wales in 2016 all in Electrical Engineering. His research interests include robust and optimal control theory and stochastic dynamical systems. He has experience in a range of applications of control systems including stochastic optics, power electronics, electrical machinery and drive systems and metal forming industry.

David Howard

Dr David Howard, Research Engineer – Dynamic Platforms

David is a research scientist in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 with focus on evolutionary field robotics. David current field of research includes investigating the application of evolutionary algorithms and reinforcement learning to UAVs, focusing on multi-rotor UAV development. He is interested in long-term autonomy and task-based robotic design, and has a background in learning classifier systems, neuro-evolutionary algorithms, and the design of hardware neural networks.

Full Biography

Fletcher Talbot

Fletcher Talbot, Research Engineer  – Dynamic Platforms

Fletcher is a Research Engineer in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 and specialises in control software for multi-legged robots. He joined CSIRO in 2014 after a completing his Bachelor Degree (Hons) in Mechatronics at the University of  Queensland. Fletcher is the lead developer of the software stack for the high-level control of CSIRO multi-legged robots including the Multi-legged Autonomous eXplorer (MAX). Outside of legged robotic locomotion his research interests include computer vision, HMI, robot navigation and evolutionary algorithms for robot morphology design.

Full Biography and Linkedin


Dependable Long-term Autonomy Team

Emili Hernandez

Dr Emili Hernandez, Research Engineer | Dependable Long-term Autonomy Team Leader

Emili is a Research Engineer in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. He joined CSIRO in 2013 after a postdoc at the University of Girona, from where he got his PhD in Computer Engineering. The topic of his PhD was Autonomous Underwater Vehicle navigation and path planning. Emili is currently focused on real-time 3D map building using multi-modal sensor fusion and Autonomous Ground Robot navigation. He is interested in field robotics autonomy, specially in developing technology that allows to remove the human component from the loop in tedious or dangerous activities.

Pavan Sikka

Dr Pavan Sikka, Research Projects Officer | Dependable Long-term Autonomy

Pavan Sikka’s current focus is the Heatwave project and he works mainly on technology and software development for the project. In the past, he has been involved in the Large Hexapod project where he was responsible for developing the low-level drivers and frameworks for getting the robot ready for further development of higher-level functionality. Other projects in the past include event-driven mobile robot surveys, museum robot, sensor networks, and several large and early automation projects in the group. Pavan was the principal developer responsible for DDX, a framework that was use extensively for several large automation projects for over 10 years.

Full Biography

Torsten Merz

Dr.-Ing. Torsten Merz, Principal Research Engineer | Dependable Long-term Autonomy

Torsten Merz studied “Applied Computer Science in the Natural Sciences” at the University of Bielefeld (Germany) and graduated 1995 with the degree of “Diplom-Informatiker”. From 1995 to 2000, he was a research fellow at the Institute for Pattern Recognition at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany). In 2000, he completed a doctoral thesis on the topic of model-based analysis of interference patterns and received a doctorate in engineering (Dr.-Ing.) from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. From 2001 to 2005 he was with the Artificial Intelligence and Integrated Computer Systems Division of the Department of Computer and Information Science at Linköping University (Sweden).

In 2006, he joined Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 as a senior research engineer where he has been leading the development of technologies enabling dependable autonomous flight of unmanned helicopters. His main research interest is dependable autonomy of robotic systems for both research and non-military real-world applications. Torsten holds a CASA UAV Controller Certificate, a GFA Glider Pilot Certificate (GPC), an EASA Sailplane Pilot Licence (SPL) with Touring Motor Glider (TMG) rating and is the Data61 Robotics RPA Chief Pilot.

Research Biography 

Ash tews

Dr Ash Tews, Senior Research Scientist – Dependable Long-term Autonomy

Ashley Tews received a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Queensland in 2003 on the topic of multi-robot coordination strategies. He undertook a post doctoral fellowship at the University of Southern California, conducting research into methods for stealthy robot navigation in outdoor environments. Since 2005, he has been a Research Scientist at Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. Ash has lead and contributed to several projects in autonomous systems, ground robots and sensor networks. The largest project entailed automating a 20 tonne Hot Metal Carrier forklift for material carrying duties. His current research interests are focused towards autonomous solutions for wild animal tracking in outdoor environments.

Farid Kendoul

Dr Farid Kendoul, Research Scientist – Dependable Long-term Autonomy

Farid Kendoul is a research scientist with more than 12 years’ experience in R&D, integration and field testing of dependable autonomy technologies with high TRL for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). He received the Engineer and Master degrees in Robotics and automatic control from the University of Technology of Compiegne (UTC), France, in 2004. In 2007, he completed a doctoral thesis on the topic of control and navigation of UAS and received a Ph.D. in System Technologies from UTC. From 2007 to 2009, he was a JSPS postdoctoral research fellow at Chiba University in Japan where he has developed an embedded autopilot and a vision-based navigation system for autonomous flight of unmanned rotorcraft systems.

Farid joined the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61 in October 2009 as a research scientist. His research topics include autonomous UAS, flight control systems, guidance and navigation, real-time navigation and perception for field robotics, avionics and embedded systems. In 2015, he held a Visiting Researcher position at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he developed guidance and control algorithms for accurate path following and safe landing of JPL’s rotorcraft platforms.

Brenda Do, Engineer  – Dependable Long-term Autonomy

Brendan is an Electrical Engineer in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO Data61. Starting at CSIRO in 2016 as a vacation student, he graduated from the University of Queensland in 2017 with a Bachelor of Engineering. Brendan works with embedded systems, currently working on Vertebrate Pest Detection.


PhD Students

  • Shafeeq Elanattil –  PhD Student (QUT)- 3D Non-Rigid Tracking and Reconstruction (Supervisor: Dr. Peyman Moghadam)
  • Chanoh Park – PhD Student (QUT)- 3D multimodal situation Awareness (Supervisor: Dr. Peyman Moghadam)
  • Eranda Tennakoon – PhD Student (QUT) – Legged robot locomotion on deformable terrain (Supervisor: Dr. Navinda Kottege)
  • Tim Hojnik – PhD Student (QUT) – Configurable Wheel with Incorporated Suspension System for Various Robotic Platforms (Supervisor: Mr. Paul Flick).
  • Jack Collins – PhD Student (QUT) – Manipulation and the Simulation to Reality Gap (Supervisor: Dr. David Howard)


Masters Students

  • Russell Buchanan – Masters Student (ETH) – Real-time legged robot navigation in complex 3D terrain (Supervisor: Dr. Navinda Kottege, Dr. Tirtha Bandyopadhyay)
  • Kamil Grycz – Masters Student (ETH) – 3D Hyperspectral Imaging for Plant Disease Detection (Supervisor: Dr. Peyman Moghadam)
  • Fabio Ruetz – Masters Student (ETH) – 3D Path Planning for Unmanned Ground Vehicles (Supervisor: Dr. Paulo Borges, Dr. Emili Hernandez)
  • JD Guo – Masters Student (ETH) – Colourisation of 3D cloud data using cameras for navigation (Supervisor: Dr. Paulo Borges, Dr. Mark Cox)
  • Victor Cazalla – Masters Student (University of Seville) – Persistent autonomy and intelligent long-term navigation (Supervisor: Dr. Emili Hernandez)


Industrial Trainees

  • Samith Ashan – University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, Electronic and Telecommunication Degree, 2015-2019 (Supervisor: Dr. Navinda Kottege)
  • Uvindu Perera – University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, BSc Eng Hons, 2015-2019 (Supervisor: Dr Nicolas Hudson)
  • Pinchahewage Bhanuka Malith Silva – University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka,BSc Eng Hons, 2015-2019 (Supervisor: Dr. Navinda Kottege andDr. Arash Khodaparastsichani)
  • Caio Fisher Silva – Sao Paulo State University (UNESP), BSc Electrical Engineering, 2015-2019 (Supervisor: Dr. Paulo Borges).
  • Daniel Ward – The University of Queensland, Electrical and Computer Engineering (Hons), 2013 – 2019 (Supervisor: Dr. Peyman Moghadam).



  • Peter Corke – Research Director
  • Jonathan Roberts – Research Director
  • Michael Brunig – Research Director
  • Graeme Winstanley – Principal Research Scientist
  • Bilal Arain – Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Damien O’Rourke  – Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  • Julian Ryde  – Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  • Matt D’Souza – Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  • Neale Fulton – Honorary Fellow
  • Sunil K Kopparapu – Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Srimal Jayawardena – Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Vu.M Nguyen-  Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Jason Saragih – Research Scientist
  • Mingrui Yang – Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  • Guillaume Salagnac – Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  • Cedric Pradalier – Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  • Glenn Foley  – Research Scientist
  • David Prasser – Research Scientist
  • Mike Bosse – Principal Research Scientist
  • Simon Lucey – Principal Research Scientist
  • Volker Hilsenstein – Research Scientist
  • Sebastian Ourselin – Research Scientist
  • Kane Usher – Research Scientist
  • Matt Dunbabin – Research Scientist
  • Daniel Fitzgerald – Research Scientist
  • Robert Zlot – Research Scientist
  • Nick Hillier – Research Scientist
  • Astrid Zeman – Research Engineer
  • Navid Nourani – Research Engineer
  • Lennon Cork – Research Engineer
  • Clinton Roy – Software Engineer
  • Polly Alexander – Software Engineer
  • Ben Mackey – Software Engineer
  • Marko Bjelonic- Postgraduate Student
  • Edgar Brea –  Postgraduate Student
  • Zhonghuan Dai – Postgraduate Student
  • Ashton Fagg – Postgraduate Student
  • Jian Li – Postgraduate Student
  • Andreas Pfrunder – Postgraduate Student
  • Jeremy Sofonia – Postgraduate Student
  • Stephen Nuske – PhD Student
  • Stefan Hoermann – Postgraduate Student
  • Justinas Miseikis – Postgraduate Student
  • Thomas Faulhammer – Postgraduate Student
  • Vitor Bottazi – PhD Student
  • Ralph Aeschimann – Postgraduate Student
  • Robert Bichsel – Postgraduate Student
  • Adrian Rechy – Postgraduate Student
  • Timon Homberger – Postgraduate Student
  • Philipp Egger – Postgraduate Student
  • Stephen Vidas –  Postgraduate Student
  • Frédéric Moster – Research Student
  • Marcus Hoerger – Research Intern
  • Niels Brouwers – Research Intern
  • Terry Kung – Industrial Trainee
  • Sebastian Kuppa – Industrial Trainee
  • Alan Rauzier – Industrial Trainee
  • Daniel Calderon Saavedra –  Industrial Trainee
  • Renato Sanabria – Industrial Trainee
  • Michael Thoreau – Industrial Trainee
  • André Cantão – Industrial Trainee
  • Julia Paul – Industrial Trainee