Study level


Vacation research experience scheme


Science and Engineering Faculty

School of Electrical Engineering and Robotics

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Professor Matthew Dunbabin
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Obtaining accurate biodiversity data is important for rainforest conservation. This requires long-term visual and acoustic data sets in parts of the environment that are often hard to reach.

This project involves developing robotic systems to conduct stealthy surveillance (visual and acoustic) in forest tree canopies for assessing biodiversity.

A key requirement for these systems is that they're small and nimble enough to climb into the cluttered tree canopies. These systems should be able to wait for hours or days whilst recording data without making any sound or motion to influence the results.

You will explore, develop and prototype novel climbing robotic systems to access the treetop environment. This will include:

  • mechatronic design
  • gripping (locomotion) systems
  • energy harvesting
  • sensor selection
  • image processing algorithms for evaluating climbing strategies up and down trees.

This project offers you the opportunity to gain invaluable experience and skills for a real-world problem that will foster opportunities for further collaborations and higher degree studies.

Research activities

Research activities include:

  • investigating and developing mechatronic systems for small tree climbing robots
  • developing robotic vision systems for determining the locomotion strategy to climb a tree
  • evaluating mechatronic systems and algorithms in challenging real-world environments and scenarios
  • preparing and giving high-quality research presentations
  • writing academic research papers for submission to top tier academic conferences and journals.


The primary outcomes from this project include:

  • new mechatronic systems (gripping and locomotion) for small, lightweight climbing robots
  • developing new image processing strategies for climbing trees
  • research papers in top international conferences and journals
  • research presentations
  • exposure and experience in cutting-edge field robotics.

Skills and experience

You'll need to have a high GPA (above 6) with experience and skills in a number of the following areas:

  • mechatronics
  • coding/programming
  • image processing
  • control
  • sensors


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.