Professor Stefan Williams
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Professor Stefan Williams

PhD, University of Sydney, 2001

Head of School - School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering
Australian Centre for Field Robotics
Professor Stefan Williams

Professor Stefan Williams' research in the field of marine robotics is enhancing our ability to document, understand and thus protect our deep-water marine habitats. His current focus is on the development and deployment of autonomous underwater vehicles whose visual and acoustic sensors can gather data for the purpose of generating high-resolution 3D models of underwater marine environments.

"My research focuses mainly on the development of techniques for high-resolution mapping of marine habitats. This work uses a combination of visual and acoustic sensors to generate detailed, three-dimensional models of underwater environments using data collected by autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).

"These AUV surveys are designed to collect high-resolution stereo imagery and oceanographic data to support studies in the fields of engineering science, ecology, biology, geoscience, archaeology and industrial applications.

"My recent work has focused on generating high-fidelity, three-dimensional models of the seafloor; precisely matching survey locations across years to allow scientists to understand variability in these environments; and identifying patterns in the data that facilitate automated classification of the resulting image sets.

"Insights gained from this work have been used, for example, to better understand the recovery of coral reefs from bleaching and cyclones, as well as the behaviour of temperate reef organisms such as fish, urchins and lobsters.

"My colleagues and I conduct these AUV-based surveys around Australia and internationally. We are currently undertaking arguably the world's first benthic (sea-floor) observing program to make extensive use of AUVs for the purpose of monitoring benthic habitats on such a large scale.

"I am particularly passionate about this area of research because it allows me to interact with such a dynamic group of peers in helping to document and understand marine habitats. Seeing our robotic systems and sensor systems being deployed on sensitive coral reefs, deep-water hydrothermal vent systems and temperate kelp forests is immensely satisfying, and is helping to change our understanding of the marine environment."

MTRX5700 - Experimental Robotics

President of the Australian Robotics and Automation Association
IEEE Robotics and Automation Society
IEEE Oceanographic Engineering Society

2018 - Distinguished Lecturer by the IEEE Oceanographic Engineering Society

Project titleResearch student
Efficient Observation of Spatial Distributions of Reef FaunaNader BOUTROS
Automation and robust control on Surgical RobotsJohnny CHENG
Coupled Control of Underwater Vehicle Manipulator SystemsWilhelm MARAIS
Heterogeneous marine robot teamsJackson SHIELDS
Semantic-assisted Visual underwater long-term Place RecognitionZiting WEN


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Selected Grants


  • Whopping Volta GPU Cluster � Transforming Artificial Intelligence Research, Tao D, Vucetic B, Kotagiri R, Nebot E, Lin X, Gao Y, Bennamoun M, Buyya R, Baldwin T, Williams S, Yuan J, Pagnucco M, Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF)


  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, Williams S, Pizarro O, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources/National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS)
  • Automated Benthic Understanding with Multimodal Observations, Williams S, Pizarro O, Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP)

In the media

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