Labs, Centres & Institutes

In addition to the RoboHub and its associated resources, the University of Waterloo has a wide range of world-renowned research labs, centres, and institutes which either focus on the study of robotics and related technologies or use robots on a regular basis as subjects or tools.

For more details on each of these labs, centres, and institutes, see the brief summaries below.

Active and Interactive Robotics (AIR) Lab

The Active and Interactive Robotics (AIR) Lab conducts research on human-robot interaction (HRI) from a multidisciplinary perspective, adopting methodologies from robot control, machine learning, and human factors. Their ultimate goal is to have robots seamlessly and intelligently interact with people in diverse environments including but not limited to manufacturing, home (e.g. cooking, cleaning), and long-term care institutions. It is led by Professor Yue Hu, a member of RoboHub's extended research team.

Autonomous Systems Laboratory

The Autonomous Systems Laboratory specializes in motion planning for mobile robots in uncertain, dynamic and complex environments. The goal is to create robots capable of learning about their environment, leading to improving performance over time. This research includes applications in ground-vehicle navigation, autonomous driving, aerial-vehicle mapping, and collaborative tasks with humans. It is led by Professor Stephen L. Smith, the Canada Research Chair in Autonomous Systems and a founding member of RoboHub's core research team.

Bio-Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Neuroscience (BRAIN) Lab

The BRAIN Lab aims to better understand brain function by developing and testing computer models of neural systems. They use robots to allow these models to interact with the physical world. It is led by Professor Chris Eliasmith, the Canada Research Chair in Theoretical Neuroscience and Director of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, and Professor Bryan Tripp, Director of Biomedical Engineering.

Centre for Pattern Analysis & Machine Intelligence

Coordinated Robot Control Laboratories

The Coordinated Robot Control Laboratories (CRClabs) provide over 1,500 sq ft of space for the investigation of multi-robot path planning and motion control. Led by Professor Chris Nielsen and Professor Stephen L. Smith, both founding members of RoboHub's core research team, initial infrastructure funding for the CRClabs was provided in 2011 via a $93K NSERC Research Tools and Instruments grant. Further support for this research exceeds $300K from NSERC, industry sources, and start-up investment from the University of Waterloo.

Human-Centred Robotics and Machine Intelligence Research Group

The Human-Centred Robotics and Machine Intelligence Research Group has an ambitious multidisciplinary research program, integrating theory from many disciplines to understand, emulate and assist human motions by exploiting and developing cutting-edge technology such as humanoid and wearable robots, assistive devices and motion capture systems. This group is led by Professor Katja Mombaur, the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Human-Centred Robotics and Machine Intelligence and a member of RoboHub's core research team.

Hybrid Systems Lab

The Hybrid Systems Lab conducts research at the interface of control, dynamical systems, and computation, with a focus on theoretical and computational aspects of control, learning, and optimization for dynamical systems. They integrate control, dynamical systems, and optimization theory in applied mathematics with formal methods and learning techniques from computer science to design feedback control algorithms for cyber-physical systems. This group is led by Professor Jun Liu, the Canada Research Chair in Hybrid Systems and Control.

Laboratory of Computational Intelligence and Automation

The Laboratory of Computational Intelligence and Automation (LCIA) conducts advanced research in modular manufacturing, reconfigurable robotics, sensor-based state estimation and intelligent control. The laboratory incorporates a cleanroom facility housing an advanced micromanipulation work cell and several reconfigurable robotic systems. The LCIA has received over $2.65M in research funding, including $1.7M from the ORF Green Intelligent Transport Systems program, $480K from NSERC programs, and $240K from Ontario Centres of Excellence. This lab is run by Professor William Melek, University Research Chair, RoboHub Director, and a founding member of RoboHub's core research team.

Maglev Microrobotics Laboratory

The Maglev Microrobotics Laboratory (MML) designs and develops magnetically levitated microrobots. The advanced control system deploys custom-made electromagnets, amplifiers and a laser-positioning system to create a 0.2m3 free-space maglev research environment. Directed by Professor Behrad Khamesee, a founding member of RoboHub's core research team, MML was established in 2005 with a $230K investment by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the ORF and the University of Waterloo. It has attracted over $660K in additional support, including $361K from NSERC, $120K from OCE, and $163K from the Auto21 network.

Mechanical Systems & Control Lab

Mechatronic Vehicle Systems Lab

The Mechatronic Vehicle Systems Lab is tasked with addressing the difficult challenges that arise due to the electrification of vehicle systems. One of the major research projects currently being led by the Mechatronic Vehicle System Lab is the development of the WATonoBus: Canada's first driverless, autonomous, 5G-enabled shuttle bus. The lab is led by Professor Amir Khajepour, the Canada Research Chair in Mechatronic Vehicle Systems and the NSERC/General Motors Industrial Research Chair in Holistic Vehicle Control.

Motion Research Group

Neural and Rehabilitation Engineering Lab

The Neural and Rehabilitation Engineering (NRE) Lab was established to advance independent mobility for over 3 million Canadian adults living with a mobility disability. Drawing on knowledge in sensors, signal processing, robotics, and machine learning, the mission of the NRE Lab is to develop and apply novel: I) methods to measure human motor control in real-world conditions, and II) assistive technologies to facilitate mobility and optimize motor rehabilitation. It is led by Professor James Tung, a member of RoboHub's extended research team.

Neuromechanics and Assistive Robotics Lab

The Neuromechanics and Assistive Robotics Lab uses machine learning techniques, system identification, and mathematical models to better understand the neural control of our movements and neuromechanics, and applies this understanding to the design of assistive controllers for robotic systems which assist human subjects in a collaborative manner. It is led by Professor Arash Arami, a member of RoboHub's extended research team.

Orthopaedic Mechatronics Lab

The Orthopaedic Mechatronics (ORTHOtron) Lab is focused on a multidisciplinary approach to develop and evaluate orthopedic interventions, ranging from robotic manipulators to characterize bone-implant mechanics to wearable sensors for musculoskeletal rehabilitation monitoring. It is led by Professor Stewart McLachlin, an expert on computer-assisted spinal surgery.

Smart Materials for Advanced Robotic Technologies (SMART) Lab

The SMART Lab is primarily focused on the development of novel soft, and programmable materials. They aim to employ these materials in the design, and fabrication of emerging generations of mobile soft robots, functional devices, and artificial biological organisms. The lab is bed by Professor Hamed Shahsavan, an expert on smart materials and a RoboHub collaborator.

Social and Intelligent Robotics Research Laboratory

The Social and Intelligent Robotics Research Laboratory conducts research in the fields of social robotics, human-robot interaction, cognitive and developmental robotics, and embodied artificial intelligence. The goal of this research is to advance knowledge in social and intelligent robotics and to develop robots that can make a positive contribution to human society. Directed by Professor Chrystopher Nehaniv and Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn, the Canada 150 Research Chair in Intelligent Robotics and a member of RoboHub's core research team.

Vision and Image Processing Lab

The Vision and Image Processing Lab is a research group under the Systems Design Engineering Department at the University of Waterloo. The VIP Lab is dedicated to understanding visual processes and finding solutions for the outstanding problems in visual processing and perception, as well as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and intelligent systems for a wide variety of applications. It is led by Professor Alexander Wong, the Canada Research Chair in Medical Imaging Systems, along with Professor David Clausi, Professor John Zelek and Professor Paul Fieguth.

Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute

The brand new Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute ( aligns with the current Strategic Plan and its theme of Transformational Research. The Institute’s goals are: to identify and seize opportunities to lead in new and emerging areas; to enable conditions that support excellence and impact; to increase interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary research; and to build greater awareness, nationally and globally, of Waterloo’s research productivity and impact. Founded a few years ago by its first co-directors, Professor Peter van Beek and Professor Fakhri Karray, the Loblaws Research Chair in Artificial Intelligence, the AI Institute is now under the leadership of Professor Vijay Ganesh and Professor Jimmy Lin, the David R. Cheriton Chair of the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science.

Waterloo Autonomous Vehicles Laboratory

The Waterloo Autonomous Vehicles Laboratory (WAVELab) provides two separate indoor positioning facilities with 6- and 18-camera arrays, respectively, enabling fine-tuning of vehicle controllers. These systems have ~1cm positioning accuracy over a 1m3 and 2m3 volume, respectively. Directed by Professor Steven Waslander, a founding member of the RoboHub, the WAVELab has attracted over $1.1M in research funding over the past five years including $450K from NSERC programs, $250K from Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), and $300K from the Ontario Research Fund’s (ORF) Green Intelligent Transport Systems program.