Marine Robotics Unit 

For more Information
Mr Andrew Young
Engineering Director
Tel: 27 41 504 9507

The Marine Robotics Unit is in its infancy and was established in March 2019 to support researchers based on the new Nelson Mandela Ocean Science Campus University as well as other activities that require such support and expertise in the field of marine robotics. The MRU is  based in The Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environment and Technology (EBET) but works across all Nelson Mandela University departments and faculties given the transdisciplinary nature of the work the unit envisages conducting.


Initially the Marine Robotics Unit (MRU) will support research in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) through the deployment and operation of off-the-shelf existing robotics such as autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and gliders. The MRU will host and maintain this equipment with dedicated Nelson Mandela University engineers and scientists who will also manage data collection missions.

The second function will be to stimulate innovation in marine robotics, i.e. design and build new robots to support the ocean sciences, this may also include the development of sensors and systems.

Additionally the MRU ‘platform’ will have a strong training component (third function) involving both undergraduate and postgraduate students from both WIO regional and northern hemisphere institutions.


  • the MRU will provide opportunities for staff and post graduate students to participate in engagement activities in collaboration with Nelson Mandela University’s researchers to produce products and technical equipment in support of the ocean scientists and related researchers.
  • The MRU will assist to formulate a strategy for technology and human resources development at Nelson Mandela University.
  • The MRU will solicit funding for its activities, and form ‘innovation bridges’ with northern hemisphere and African Centres of Excellence
  • MRU will lend engineering support and provide training to researchers using existing Marine Robotics platforms.
  • MRU will engage in the development of new innovative solutions to challenges facing ocean scientists.
  • MRU aims to provide innovation, research and development opportunities for students wanting to pursue further studies.


The Marine Robotics Unit was fortunate in securing funding through the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) for the establishment of a Marine Robotics Centre. The funding will assist in accelerating the activities already envisaged for the unit.