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Professor Peter Xu

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Chair in Mechatronics


Peter Xu joined the University of Auckland on 1  February 2011, as Chair in Mechatronics Engineering.  He was the Professor of Mechatronics (2007-2010), Associate Professor (2005-2006) and Senior Lecturer (1999-2004) in School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Massey University, New Zealand. Prior to coming to New Zealand, he worked at the City University of Hong Kong (1993-1998), the University of Stuttgart, Germany (1990-1992) and Southeast University, China (1988-1989).

His current research interests are mainly in areas of advanced mechatronics/robotics with applications in medicine and foods. He is Senior Member of IEEE and Fellow of IPENZ (Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand). He is Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics and ASME Journal of Science and Engineering in Medical Diagnostics and Therapy.

Professor Xu is the Principal Invstigator for Research Theme "Intervential Technologies" and the Leader for Platform Technology "Actuation and Control" at the New Zealand Medical Technologies Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE).

Professor Xu is also an Associate Investigator at Riddet Institute, The New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) in Food, Innovation and Health and The Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonics and Quantum Technologies, The New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE).

During his 2017 sabbatical leave, Professor Xu was Guest Professor at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, working on a funded project Soft Tissue Robotics, with Institute of Control Technologies for Machine Tools and Manufacturing Units (


BE (Manufacturing), Southeast University, China, 1982
ME (Mechanical), Southeast University, China, 1985
PhD (Mechtraonics), Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1988

Research | Current

  • Advanced robotics in foods
    • Digestion robotics (chewing, swallowing, throat, esophagus and stomach)
    • Soft surface manipulator for simultaneous sorting of multiple delicate objects
    • Robotic instrumentation for food texture and rheology analysis
  • Advanced mechatronics in medicine
    • Soft-bodied robotic instrumentation (soft sensing, actuating and control)
    • Data-driven modeling and control in soft robotics
    • Catheter-tip fiber optic Raman sensor for in vivo cancer diagnosis
    • Needle-tip fiber optic force sensor for in vivo tissue identificatio
  • Advanced mechatronics for agriculture 
    • Aerial manipulation for forest canopy sampling
    • Autonomous omni-directional mobile robotics
    • Automatic pine tree shoot culturing

Teaching | Current

  • MECHENG 312 - Sensors and Actuators
  • MECHENG 706 - Mechatronics Design
  • MECHENG 736 - Biomechatronics

Postgraduate supervision

Recent PhD students (2017 - present)

  1. Sherine Jesna, Esophageal Robotics Experimental Investigations in Foods, The Unievsrity of Auckland, 2018 -
  2. Qi Zhang, Soft Tissue Manipulation and Ovine Offal Sorting, The Unievsrity of Auckland, 2018 -
  3. Z.X. Chen, Data-driven Closed-loop Control of a Soft Robotics Table for Simultaneous Multiple Object Manipulation, The University of Auckland, 2017-
  4. B.X. Chen, Soft Robotics – Sensing and Control for Foods Mastication, The University of Auckland, 2017 -
  5. D. Bhattacharya, Primary and Secondary Peristalsis Control of a Soft-bodied Swallowing Robot, The University of Auckland, 2017 -
  6. S. Mostashiri, Dynamics and Control of Actuation Redundant Parallel Robots,  The University of Auckland, 2017 -
  7. D. Yu, Modeling and Analysis of a Pneumatically Actuated Soft Robot Mimicking Human Gastric Motility, The University of Auckland, 2016 -
  8. A.B. Hashem, Biomimicry of Human Gastric Motility Soft-bodied Robot, The University of Auckland,  2016 -
  9. J. Kutia, Aerial Manipulation for Canopy Sampling, The University of Auckland, The University of Auckland, 2015 -
  10. A.B. Din, Stretchable Sensing for Pressure and Deformation in Soft-bodied Robotics, The University of Auckland, 2018 (completed)
  11. H. Chen, Miniature Fiber Optic Raman Sensor for In Vivo Non-contact Nerve Detection in Minimally Invasive Spine, The University of Auckland, 2018  (completed)
  12. Z.C. Deng, A Novel XY Soft Machine Table Capable of Simultaneous Multiple Object Manipulation Through Surface Deformation, The University of Auckland, 2018 (completed)
  13. Z.L. Mo, A Miniature Temperature-Compensated Fiber Optic Force Sensor for Minimally Invasive Surgeries, The University of Auckland, 2017 (completed)
  14. L. Xie, Mechatronics Design and Energy-Optimal Autonomous Navigation of a Heavy-Duty Omnidirectional Mecanum Mobile Robot, The University of Auckland, 2017 (completed)


Alexander von Homboldt (AvH) Research Fellowship (1990)

Korean Federation of Science and Technology (KoFST) Research Fellowship (2006)

Japan Society of the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Research Fellowship (2010)

Young Academics Research Award, Fuk Ying Tong Foundation, China (1996)



Programme Director, BE(Hons) Mechatronics Engineering


Areas of expertise

Mechatronics, Robotics and Automation

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Associate Editor, ASME Journal of Engineering and Science in Medical Diagnosis and Therapy (ASME-JESMDT), since 2017

Associate Editor, IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, since 2003

Associate Editor, IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, 2008-2010

Editor/Editorial Board Member, International Journal of Intelligent Systems Technology and Applications, since 2005

Technical Committee Member, Sensors and Actuators, IEEE, since 2012

Professional affiliations

  • Senior Member IEEE
  • Fellow, Engineering New Zealand


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Lu, X., Xu, P., & Li, X. (2017). A soft robotic tongue: Mechatronic design and surface reconstruction. IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 22 (5), 2102-2110. 10.1109/TMECH.2017.2748606
  • Din, S., Xu, P., Cheng, L., & Dirven, S. (2017). A Stretchable Multimodal Sensor for Soft Robotic Applications. IEEE Sensors Journal, 17 (17), 5678-5686. 10.1109/JSEN.2017.2726099
  • Deng, Z., Stommel, M., & Xu, W. (2016). A Novel Soft Machine Table for Manipulation of Delicate Objects Inspired by Caterpillar Locomotion. IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 21 (3), 1702-1710. 10.1109/TMECH.2016.2519333
  • Zhu, M., Xie, M., Xu, W., & Cheng, L. K. (2016). A Nanocomposite-Based Stretchable Deformation Sensor Matrix for a Soft-Bodied Swallowing Robot. IEEE Sensors Journal, 16 (10), 3848-3855. 10.1109/JSEN.2016.2536724
  • Cheng, C., Xu, W., & Shang, J. (2016). Distributed-Torque-Based Independent Joint Tracking Control of a Redundantly Actuated Parallel Robot With Two Higher Kinematic Pairs. IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, 63 (2), 1062-1070. 10.1109/TIE.2015.2481360
  • Chen, F., Dirven, S., Xu, W., & Li, X. (2016). Large-Deformation Model of a Soft-bodied Esophageal Actuator Driven by Distributed Air Pressure. IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 22 (1), 81-90. 10.1109/TMECH.2016.2612262
  • Dirven, S., Xu, P. W., & Cheng, L. K. (2015). Sinusoidal peristaltic waves in soft actuator for mimicry of esophageal swallowing. IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 20 (3), 1331-1337. 10.1109/TMECH.2014.2337291
  • Wen, H., Xu, W., & Cong, M. (2015). Kinematic model and analysis of an actuation redundant parallel robot with higher kinematic pairs for jaw movement. IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, 62 (3), 1590-1598. 10.1109/TIE.2014.2365432


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 7, Room 702
New Zealand

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