The KAUST Research Conference on Robotics and Autonomy 2023

#RobotoKAUST 2023

in partnership with

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After the success of #RobotoKAUST 2022 (check talks and posters here) and #RobotoKAUST 2021 (check talks here), we are excited to organize the 3rd #RobotoKAUST conference in May 2023. We invite you to join us on this exciting journey!

Over the past seven decades, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been supplying a major share of the oil used to power the world's economies for transportation of people and goods, electricity production, and a myriad of synthetic materials that most of us could not live without at this point in time. As of today, the Kingdom is investing heavily in food production, on the one hand, and tourism development, on the other hand. Food production is a challenge in a country often associated with the word "desert". Tourism is a big opportunity for a country whose beautiful marine environment, which comprises more and healthier coral reefs than anywhere else, easily competes with the most famous natural sites worldwide.

None of the foregoing activities can become significant without achieving significant economies of scale enabled, for the most part, by robotics and automation. The KAUST Research Conference on Robotics and Autonomy 2023 (#RobotoKAUST 2023) brings together leading scientists and engineers to present and discuss their work devoted to robotics as it pertains to marine and agricultural applications. While speakers are expected to talk about their preferred area of application, they will also be encouraged to think about the other area, hoping that successful technology transfers may happen from one to the other, with worldwide dissemination. By doing so, #RobotoKAUST 2023 will encourage the development of novel ideas where they are most commonly found, that is, at the interface between two essential fields of interest.


If you have inquiries, feel free to contact us at

#RobotoKAUST 2023 Agenda

All times are in Arabia Standard Time (AST) UTC+3

Monday, May 08, 2023

Time Title Speaker Location
08:30 - 08:45 Opening Remarks - Professor Eric Feron B18, Fellowship Hall
08:30 - 08:45 Opening Remarks - Professor Gianluca Setti B18, Fellowship Hall
Session 1: Robotics and autonomy in the sea
Time Title Speaker Location
08:45 - 09:15 KAUST Reefscape Restoration Initiative Dr. Maram Abadi, KAUST Reefscape Restoration Initiative, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) B18, Fellowship Hall
09:15 - 09:45 Autonomous platform systems for underwater exploration: Light for the sea, adventures for the robots! Prof. Toshihiro Maki, Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo B18, Fellowship Hall
09:45 - 10:15 The future of coral reef monitoring B18, Fellowship Hall
Session 2: Marine robotic systems
Time Title Speaker Location
10:30 - 11:00 Frontiers in Marine Research Robotics B18, Fellowship Hall
11:00 - 11:30 Intelligent swarm underwater robotics for coastal and shallow water applications Prof. Mohd Rizal Bin Arshad, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) B18, Fellowship Hall
11:30 - 12:00 Developing Marine Robotics for the Western Indian Ocean - Needs, designs and applications Prof. Michael Roberts, UK-SA Bilateral Research Chair: Ocean Science & Marine Food Security, Nelson Mandela University and University of Southampton B18, Fellowship Hall
12:00 - 12:30 Exploring the Blue Frontier with Cooperative Marine Robots Prof. Antonio M. Pascoal, Institute for Systems and Robotics (ISR), IST / University of Lisbon B18, Fellowship Hall
Session 3: Marine surveys and monitoring
Time Title Speaker Location
14:00 - 14:30 At the Limits of the Red Sea - challenges of deep marine sciences Prof. Froukje M. van der Zwan, Physical Science and Engineering, Earth Science and Engineering, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology B18, Fellowship Hall
14:30 - 15:00 Neuromorphic Computing Architectures for Robot Vision in Marine Harsh Environments Prof. Jorge Dias, Center for Autonomous Robotic Systems, Khalifa University B18, Fellowship Hall
15:00 - 15:30 Remanent Imaging, a novel concept for imaging aquatic organisms Dr. Pierre R. Martineau, founder and CEO, Martineau & Associates, Inc. B18, Fellowship Hall
15:30 - 16:00 Scaling up reef ecosystem monitoring using underwater robots Dr. Yogesh Girdhar, Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution B18, Fellowship Hall
16:00 - 16:30 Deep benthic environments: an endless (but stimulating) challenge for marine robotics Dr. Fabio Marchese, Red Sea Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) B18, Fellowship Hall
Session 4: Industry and practice
Time Title Speaker Location
16:45 - 17:15 From ROV's to Smart Reefs: CMR's Journey supporting Marine Research Andres Espinoza, CMR Core Lab, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) B18, Fellowship Hall
17:15 - 17:45 Underwater Robot for Shallow Water Pipeline Inspection & Monitoring Hassane Trigui, Research & Development Center, Aramco B18, Fellowship Hall
17:45 - 18:15 Autonomous marine mapping, current situation and future possibilities Frank Mallon, Director, Marine and Archaeology, Shamal Technologies B18, Fellowship Hall
18:15 - 18:45 Bioinspired Subsea Robots and Underwater Networks Dr. Rudolf Bannasch, Managing Director (and co-founder), EvoLogics GmbH B18, Fellowship Hall

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Session 5: Automation in agriculture
Time Title Speaker Location
08:30 - 09:00 New Zealand Robotics, Automation and Sensing (NZRAS) Roadmap and Horticulture Robotics Dr. Shen Hin Lim, School of Engineering, University of Waikato B18, Fellowship Hall
09:00 - 09:30 Flying LoRA IoT Gateway for Agricultural Applications Prof. Samsuzana Abd Aziz, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Universiti Putra Malaysia B18, Fellowship Hall
09:30 - 10:00 Semi-autonomous systems enable advances in Earth Observation B18, Fellowship Hall
Session 6: Coral manipulation
Time Title Speaker Location
10:15 - 10:45 Harnessing the potential for robotics and automation for restoring the worlds coral reefs Prof. David Suggett, KAUST Reefscape Restoration initiative (KRRI), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) B18, Fellowship Hall
10:45 - 11:15 From vehicles to teams in maritime operations Prof. João Tasso de Figueiredo Borges de Sousa, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Porto University B18, Fellowship Hall
11:15 - 11:45 Challenges in Coral Reef Research and Conservation: Robotics and Autonomous Sampling to the Rescue? Prof. Adrienne M. S. Correa, BioSciences, Rice University B18, Fellowship Hall
11:45 - 12:15 Robotics and Automation in Coral Monitoring and Restoration B18, Fellowship Hall
12:15 - 12:45 Robotic Customized Medicine for Corals B18, Fellowship Hall
Session 7: Agricultural robotics
Time Title Speaker Location
14:15 - 14:45 Predicting when introduction of robotics in agricultural leads to whole-system changes Clay Thomas Mitchell, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Fall Line Capital B18, Fellowship Hall
14:45 - 15:15 Optimal Design of Agricultural Walking Robot Prof. Sayat Ibrayev, Institute of Mechanics and Engineering B18, Fellowship Hall
15:15 - 15:45 Farms of the Future for Saudi Arabia: Lessons from the US Mid-West Prof. Girish Chowdhary, Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; co-founder and CTO, EarthSense, Inc. B18, Fellowship Hall
15:45 - 16:15 Smart Agricultural Robotics for Monitoring Coral Reefs and Plants: A vertical farming perspective Prof. Rafiq Ahmad, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta B18, Fellowship Hall
16:15 - 16:45 PROTEUS™: A new undersea laboratory serving aquanauts, marine robotics, and sensor networks Lisa Truitt and Prof. Mark Patterson, Proteus Ocean Group and Marine Science Center, Northeastern University B18, Fellowship Hall
Poster Session
Time Title Speaker Location
17:00 - 19:00 Gala event: Poster session / Exhibition / Contest winners announcement Building 3, Lobby area (desert side), Level 2

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Snorkeling & Diving Trip
Time Title Speaker Location
08:00 - 12:00 Snorkeling & Diving Trip [by invitation only] TBD
Session 8: Towards marine autonomy I
Time Title Speaker Location
14:00 - 14:30 Robotic applications in Coral Restoration B18, Fellowship Hall
14:30 - 15:00 Situational Awareness System for Autonomous Surface Vehicles Dr. Hyun Taek Choi, Advanced intelligent Ship Research Division, Korea Research Institute of Ships and Ocean Engineering B18, Fellowship Hall
15:00 - 15:30 Estimation and control of underwater optical wireless communication systems B18, Fellowship Hall
15:30 - 16:00 Marine Autonomy: Research and Applications Prof. Sanjay Sharma, Associate Professor (Reader) in Intelligent Autonomous Control Systems, School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, University of Plymouth B18, Fellowship Hall
Session 9: Towards marine autonomy II
Time Title Speaker Location
16:15 - 16:45 Optical wireless communication for underwater internet of things B18, Fellowship Hall
16:45 - 17:15 The UK National Centre for Coastal Autonomy (NCCA) – A centre of excellence for coastal marine autonomy Dr. Matthew Palmer, Head of Science - Digital Innovation & Marine Autonomy, Plymouth Marine Laboratory B18, Fellowship Hall
17:15 - 17:45 The need for robotics and automatization to meet our global coral restoration goals Dr. Sebastian Schmidt-Roach, BESE/Red Sea Research Center, KAUST B18, Fellowship Hall

Past Events


RobotoKAUST 2022



The KAUST Research Conference on Robotics and Autonomy 2022



Following on from our successful online conference in Spring 2021, the KAUST RISC Lab hosted the KAUST Research Conference on Robotics and Autonomy 2022 (#RobotoKAUST 2022) from February 28 to March 2, 2022.

During the #RobotoKAUST conference,  presentations and discussions of systems, items, and methods related to robotics and autonomy took place. As part of this event, we accepted poster abstracts for digital posters.
Posters were displayed digitally in KAUST Library during the RobotoKAUST Gala Meeting on March 1, allowing discussion among presenters and interested attendees. 

The KAUST RISC Lab announced a brand new story contest, the RobotoKAUST: Short Robotics Story & Video Contest 2022.
The contest was open to children, teenagers (TKS G1- G12 level), and adults.

The RobotoKAUST: Short Robotics Story & Video Contest 2022 welcomed entries in three different formats: stories, videos, and animated videos. The winning stories were turned into video animations and are published on our YouTube Channel and RobotoEvents Website