Khalifa University Inaugurates Region’s First-ever Advanced Lab for Marine Studies and Research

September 26, 2023

Khalifa University and Stanford University Collaborate to Develop Marine Robots


Khalifa University of Science and Technology today announced the inauguration of Khalifa University Marine Studies and Research Lab, the region’s first-ever advanced robotics research facility equipped with wave and stream generation facilities. Khalifa University’s Center for Autonomous Robotic Systems (KUCARS) and Stanford University have also announced they have entered into a collaboration to explore the use of marine robotics for sustainable ocean ecosystems, including removal of plastics to curb pollution.


The collaboration was part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed by Professor Sir John O’Reilly, President, Khalifa University, and Professor Oussama Khatib, Director, Stanford Robotics Laboratory (SRL), in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University. The signing ceremony was attended by His Excellency Salem Butti Salem Al Qubaisi, Member of the Board of Trustees of Khalifa University, and Director-General of the UAE Space Agency, and His Excellency Fahed Salem Ahmed Alkayyoomi, Under-secretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Government Support.


Stanford and Khalifa University robotics collaboration.


The Marine Studies and Research Lab  at Khalifa University allows testing robots under a controlled environment that simulates the adverse underwater environmental conditions of the sea. The pool includes a wave generator, a flow current generator, underwater and overhead tracking systems, and an overhanging (gantry-type) mechanism covering the entire width of the pool.


The OceanOneK robot, designed and built by a Stanford University team led by Dr. Khatib, also made its Abu Dhabi debut and demonstrated its capability in retrieving plastic waste in the Khalifa University Marine Studies and Research Lab.


The MoU between Khalifa University and Stanford will facilitate research and development of marine robotics systems for sustainable marine ecosystem applications, such as ocean-monitoring, ocean-cleaning, and deep-water exploration. 


Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University, said: “Khalifa University’s Marine Studies and Research Lab, , one of the most important research facilities and the first-of-its-kind in the region, will develop marine studies and research in the UAE and the region. The new facility enhances the UAE’s research capabilities and places it at the forefront of countries in research and development in this field.”


He also said: “Khalifa University has always remained at the forefront of research and innovation in the UAE and the region, and we are delighted to enter into this collaboration with Stanford University to further expand the scope of our research in robotics and machine learning to ensure sustainability and cleaner oceans by removing plastics and other pollutants. We believe this collaboration will surely lead to more sustainable solutions that will benefit the UAE and the global community, in ensuring a cleaner environment on planet earth.” 


The Marine Studies and Research Lab  will allow for extensive and controlled testing of marine robotic vehicles including underwater, surface, autonomous or remotely tele-operated devices. Potential applications of marine robots include  underwater cleaning of plastics, coral reef inspection, and critical infrastructure inspection. 


Professor Lakmal Seneviratne, Director, KUCARS, said: “Our researchers are already developing autonomous robots for various land, air and marine applications. In the recent past KUCARS researchers have applied for patents on five innovative robotics solutions for these applications.”

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Clarence Michael
English Editor – Specialist
26 September 2023