Microrobotics Lab Home

The Avci research group believes that tiny smart systems will revolutionise work at the microscale, opening new avenues for research. Specifically, using microrobotics to solve biomedical challenges allows for improved consistency and speed when working at small scales, and frees researchers from laborious manual tests under a microscope. The many factors that come into designing microrobotics systems mean that an interdisciplinary environment is crucial. This is recognised by the Avci group, where our researchers have backgrounds in engineering, robotics, material science, micro-manufacturing, microbiology and veterinary science. The different backgrounds of our researchers have allowed us to work in three main research areas: nanoscale optical robots for analysis of molecules; microrobots for cell manipulation and analysis and millimetre-scale robots for gut analysis. The Avci group is using a variety of actuation, control and manufacturing methods in these research areas in order to effectively seize the opportunities available outside of the macroscale.

Left to right (top): Muhammad Rehan, Nick Carlisle, and Ben Orwin-Higgs;
Left to right (bottom): Kate Andrew, Martin Allen, and Ebu Avci.
  • NEWS 2022

    August 2022: PhD student Rehan is a finalist for the 2022 KiwiNet Momentum Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his “Robotic Capsule for Gut Health” project (winner will be announced on 6th of October in Auckland).

    August 2022: PhD student Rehan received the runner-up best presentation award during postgraduate day of IEEE at Victoria University of Wellington for his “Robotic Capsule” work. 27 postgraduate students from Massey and VUW competed. Well done Rehan!

    July 2022: PhD student Kate is a finalist for the best application paper award in the annual International Conference on Manipulation, Automation and Robotics at Small Scales (MARSS 2022), July 25-29, Toronto, Canada for her work “Developing an Optical Microlever for Stable and Unsupported Force Amplification”. Well done Kate!

    July 2022: Ebu is the organiser and chair of “Robotic Capsules for Gut” session during The Annual International Conference on Manipulation, Automation, and Robotics at Small Scales (MARSS 2022), July 25-29, Toronto, Canada.

    July 2022: Ebu is invited as a guest editor for the special issue of Micromachines “Recent Advances in Microrobotics.

    July 2022: We have a new paper “Development of a Robotic Capsule for In vivo Sampling of Gut Microbiota” that is published in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RA Letters). This work will also be presented at IROS 2022 in Kyoto, Japan in October 2022.

    July 2022: PhD student Rehan’s story on ecentre/massey website: Communication The Key To Success In Research And Enterprise.

    June 2022: Royal Society Te Apārangi has published online their latest edition of Highlights Te Tau 2021: Robotic capsule for gut sampling a winning Idea.

    April 2022: PhD student Rehan’s story on Royal Society Te Apārangi website: Muhammed’s journey to the 2021 Falling Walls Lab Finale.

    April 2022: PhD student Rehan obtained the third place at Grand Ideas 2022 Competition, ecentre, Massey University and obtained $5k grant for his “Robot for Gut Health” idea. Well done Rehan!

    April 2022: We have a new paper “Interfacial colloidal assembly guided by optical tweezers and tuned via surface charge” that is published in Journal of Colloid and Interface Science.

    April 2022: PhD student Kate is the winner of the 2022 MacDiarmid Institute Annual Symposium #MyResearchStory video contest. Well done Kate!

    April 2022: Our 2020 paper about robotic capsule for gut sampling is one of the top cited articles (2020-2021) of the International Journal of Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery, Wiley.

    March 2022: PhD student Rehan’s story on Massey University website: A pill-sized robot for better health outcomes.

    February 2022: Ebu graduated from KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Program.

  • NEWS 2021

    December 2021: PhD student Rehan’s story on Education New Zealand “Massey student’s robotic gut capsule could be a game-changer”.

    November 2021: PhD student Rehan obtained $10k grant from Palmerston North Medical Research Fund (PNMRF) for his “robotic capsule for gut” proposal.

    November 2021: PhD student Rehan did an interview on the Radio New Zealand (RNZ) with Jesse Mulligan: “Student working on life changing robot capsule”.

    October 2021: PhD student Rehan, who is working on “robotic capsule for gut microbiota sampling”, won the One Eighty Seconds of Your Research Study (180SRS) 2021 – PhD Category that is organised by Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Malaysia. Well done Rehan!

    October 2021: We have a new paper “Inside the ensemble: Unlocking the potential of One-at-a-Time experiments with Lab-on-a-Chip automation” that is published in Lab On a Chip. The publication is also highlighted as one of Lab on a Chip HOT articles 2021!

    September 2021: PhD student Rehan, who is working on “robotic capsule for gut microbiota sampling”, won the 2021 Falling Walls Lab competition that is organised by Royal Society Te Apārangi. Rehan also won the people’s choice award based on online voting. As the national winner, Rehan will represent New Zealand during the international Falling Walls Lab competition that is happening in Berlin on 7th of November 2021. Well done Rehan!

    September 2021: Ebu has been invited to be a member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE-RAS) Technical Committee on Micro/Nano Robotics and Automation.

    September 2021: We have a new paper “Towards Gut Microbiota Sampling Using Untethered Sampling Device” that is published in IEEE Access.

    August 2021: We have a new paper “Optical microlever assisted DNA stretching” that is published in Optics Express.

    July 2021: Our conference paper “Mechanical Characterisation of Robotic Capsule Anchoring Mechanism for Gastrointestinal Tract” was the finalist of the best paper and the best student paper awards in the 7th International Conference on Advanced Mechatronics (JSME ICAM 2021), Aichi, Japan. Well done Andrew and Rehan!

    May 2021: We have a new paper “Measurement of Peristaltic Forces Exerted by Living Intestine on Robotic Capsule” that is published in IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics.

    March 2021: Ebu is organising “Recent Advances in Micro/Nano Robotics” session in The 7th International Conference on Advanced Mechatronics (ICAM 2021, Aichi, Japan) together with Hisataka Maruyama (Nagoya University, Japan). Submission deadline is 19 March 2021.

    February 2021: PhD student Kate received the student talk prize for her presentation “Optical Micromachines for Molecule Stretching” during the MacDiarmid Institute Annual Symposium and Future Leaders’ Programme in Rotorua, New Zealand. Well done Kate!

    January 2021: We organised a 1-week long MacDiarmid Institute Discovery Camp for High School Students who joined us from various parts of New Zealand.

  • 2020

    December 2020: PhD student Muhammad Rehan’s current project is highlighted in VetScript magazine (the New Zealand Veterinary Association’s publication).

    November 2020: Ebu has been invited to serve as a topic editor for “micromachines” journal.

    October 2020: PhD student Kate Andrew gives us her scientific take on Octiron from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series via RadioNZ Nights’ Materials: Fact or Fiction.

    September 2020: PhD student Muhammad Rehan, who is working on the capsule robot project for gut microbiota sampling, won the 2020 3MT competition organized by the Graduate Research School, Massey University. Rehan also won the people’s choice award based on the online voting by the PhD students through stream. He won 1000 NZD prize money for the first place (judges’ vote) and another 250 NZD for the people’s choice award. Rehan had represented Massey University in the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition, in which 54 universities from Asia and Pacific region participated. Well done Rehan!

    Rehan accepts oversize checks for 1000 NZD prize money for the first place (judges' vote) and another 250 NZD for the people's choice award.

    August 2020: PhD student Kate Andrew received the runner-up award for her “laser-enabled microrobots” presentation during the 2020 IEEE NZ Central Section Postgraduate Symposium at Victoria University of Wellington. Competition included 27 postgraduate students from VUW, Otago and Massey. Well done Kate!

    July 2020: Undergraduate researchers Andrew, Sid and Nick took part in the Undergraduate Student Mechatronics Design Competition that is part of the 2020 IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM 2020). Their project was “Piezoelectric Device for Inducing Strain on Cell Samples”. They obtained the first place with a certificate and USD 800. Well done Gentlemen!

    Andrew, Sid and Nick proudly present their first place certificate.

    July 2020: We have a new paper “Capsule Robot for Gut Microbiota Sampling using Shape Memory Alloy Spring” that is published by the International Journal of Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery – Wiley.

    April 2020: Undergraduate researchers Sid and Nick obtained $10k scholarship from Ken and Elizabeth Powell Bursary. This scholarship is given to the exceptional students who contribute to the advancement of technology.

    February 2020: The Avci research group receives a KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Award ($20k) research sponsorship from the KiwiNet (Kiwi Innovation Network) New Zealand to develop capsule robots.

    February 2020: We have a new review paper with a title “Optical Micromachines for Biological Studies” that published in Micromachines.

    January 2020: Ebu is invited to serve as a Program Committee Member for The 7th International Conference on Advanced Mechatronics (JSME-ICAM 2020), Japan.

    January 2020: We have a new paper published on the development of a “micromanipulator for parasite isolation task” in Micromachines.

  • 2019

    November 2019: Ebu served as an Associate Editor during the paper review process of The 2020 IEEE/SICE International Symposium on System Integration (SII 2020), Hawaii, USA.

    October 2019: Undergraduate student Ben Lewis received the Best Researcher Award for his graduation project “Sampling the Digestive Tract using Capsule Robots” from School of Food and Advanced Technology, Massey University.

    Best Researcher Award certificate, awarded to Ben Lewis.

    August 2019: Ebu is invited to serve as a Program Committee Member for MARSS Conferences (The Annual International Conference on Manipulation, Automation and Robotics at Small Scales).

    August 2019: PhD student Muhammad Rehan received the runner-up award for his micro-gut capsule development work during the IEEE postgraduate presentation day at Massey University, Palmerston North.

    Muhammad Rehan accepts the runner-up award for his micro-gut capsule development work.

    July 2019: Ebu delivered an invited talk “Contact micromanipulation in 3D” at MARSS 2019 – International Conference on Manipulation Automation and Robotics at Small Scales.

    July 2019: Ebu delivered an invited talk “Micro-nano robotics for bio-medical applications” at The Department of Precision and Microsystems Engineering, TU Delft, Netherlands.

    May 2019: We have a new paper published on the design of a “compliant micro-gripper” in Micromachines.

    March 2019: Ebu has become an Associate Investigator in The MacDiarmid Institute.

  • 2018

    September 2018: Master student Matthew Lofroth received the runner up award for his micro-gripper development work during the IEEE postgraduate presentation day at Victoria University of Wellington.

    Matthew Lofroth accepts the runner up award for his micro-gripper development work

    September 2018: Ebu delivered an invited talk “Micro-Nano Robotics for Life-Science Applications” at the Department of Immunology, National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), Tokyo, Japan.

    August 2018: Ebu has become an Associate Fellow of The Higher Education Academy.