Rapid urban growth poses many challenges such as urban pollution, transport congestion, waste accumulation, high consumption of energy, and lack of skilled manpower which affect the liveability of cities and compromise the quality of life. These complex challenges have opened up many new research opportunities that call for multi-disciplinary approaches for cost-effective and environmental friendly energy solutions, reduced carbon emission, automation solutions, sustainable manufacturing, and smart transportations. Industry 4.0 has been recognized as the key to address many of these challenges facing mankind. It takes what was started in the third industrial revolution with the adoption of computers and automation and enhances it with smart and autonomous systems fueled by data and machine learning.
Robotics and autonomous system have been well recognised by many countries as important for economic growth, improved quality of life, and empowerment of people. We have seen a surge of interest in autonomous systems including self-driving vehicles, industrial and service robots, unmanned aerial vehicles and so on, in the past few years. On the other hand, the global demand for energy is increasing rapidly due to the rising living standards and the growing world population. Providing sufficient energy while mitigating climate change will require breakthrough technologies in energy supply and energy efficiency.
The research in this thrust is drawn on the strengths and capabilities in Control Theory, Machine Learning and Optimization, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Smart Manufacturing, Smart Buildings and Intelligent Transportations, Smart Grids, and Smart Energy Conversion Systems. The topics under the thrust are supporting the themes under RIE2025. Currently, the thrust has 36 affiliated faculty, 130 research staff, 137 graduate students and 7 laboratories including Robotics I Lab, Control Engineering Lab, Electric Power Research Lab, Internet of Things Lab, Clean Energy Research Lab, Process Instrumentation Lab, and Water and Energy Research Lab.