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Professor in Robotics, Queensland University of Technology

Jonathan is Professor in Robotics at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). His main research interest is in the area of Field Robotics and in particular making machines operate autonomously in unstructured environments. He graduated from the University of Southampton, UK, in 1991 with an Honours degree in Aerospace Systems Engineering. Jonathan furthered his interest in computer vision for driverless cars while completing a PhD (1991-1994) at the University of Southampton where he also developed skills in parallel computing.

In 1995 Jonathan joined CSIRO (Australia’s largest government research agency) to develop the area of mining robotics where he worked on numerous large robot machines including 3,500 tonne draglines, 30 tonne underground haul trucks and autonomous underground explosive loading vehicles. His work with his colleagues on the navigation system of semi-autonomous Load-Haul-Dump (LHD) vehicles was commercialised by Caterpillar. He was appointed a Science Leader at CSIRO in the area of Robotics and then went on to lead the Autonomous Systems Laboratory also at CSIRO where he was Research Director.

Jonathan is the co-inventor, and current head judge of the UAV Challenge Outback Rescue, an international flying robot competition in which teams search for a lost bushwalker using autonomous robotic aircraft. In 2013 he and his research team won the Australia and New Zealand Internet Award for Innovation for their Museum Robot project. This project deployed two mobile robots in the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and continues to be used by remote school students to visit the museum with an educator guide, on a weekly basis.

In 2013 Jonathan made international news by being the first person to 3D map the interior of the Leaning Tower of Pisa using his team’s Zebedee 3D laser scanning mobile mapping system. He continues to have an interest in the use of robotics technology for the use in documenting and protecting important cultural heritage sites. His team’s mapping of Fort Lytton in Brisbane in conjunction with Queensland Parks and The University of Queensland was the first Australian heritage site to be archived on CyArk, the international digital cultural heritage database.

At QUT, Jonathan is now developing technology for medical and healthcare robotics and in particular has an interest in the use of robot vision to help with robotic surgery.

Jonathan was President of the Australian Robotics & Automation Association Inc. from 2007-2008, and between 2008 and 2013 was Deputy Research Director of the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA).

Jonathan is also an expert on Star Wars, which he first saw after queueing around the block for tickets with his brother and parents to see the original film in 1977. He has maintained an active interest in all things Star Wars, especially droids, since that time.


  • 2014–present
    Professor in Robotics, QUT
  • 2009–2014
    Research Director Autonomous Systems Lab, CSIRO


  • 1994 
    University of Southampton, PhD
  • 1991 
    University of Southampton, BEng (Hon)